When you hear self-appointed experts on Russia banging on about how Russia is busy “weaponizing” everything from information to PhotoShop to Wikileaks to refugees to robotic cockroaches and Jedi mind tricks, one could be forgiven for wondering why the locus of their concern isn’t a bit closer to home. As opposed to these fictional charges against Russia, the actual weaponization of US foreign policy has been been continuing apace over the last several years.
Since the Obama administration took office in 2009, US weapons exports have soared, resulting in a bonanza for weapons manufacturers. As of this writing, stock prices for the defense contractors L-3 Communications (LLL), Northrop Grumman (NOC), Raytheon (RTN), General Dynamics (GD), and Lockheed Martin (LMT) are at or near their respective five-year highs. As Nation contributor and the New America Foundation’s William Hartung recently observed, in 2014, “the United States was credited with more than half the value of all global arms transfer agreements.” In 2015 alone, the United States exported nearly $23 billion in weapons and by some estimates, the Obama administration has approved over $200 billion worth of arms sales since taking office. The United States now controls anywhere between 50 to 70 percent of the global arms market.
Meanwhile, there is mounting evidence which suggests that US arms merchants are banking on a new and more dangerous cold war with Russia. As The Intercept reported last week, “Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.”