The U.S. ruling class deploys the military for three main reasons: (1) to forcibly open up countries to foreign investment, (2) to ensure the free flow of natural resources from the global south into the hands of multinational corporations, and (3) because war is profitable. The third of these reasons, the profitability of war, is often lacking detail in analyses of U.S. imperialism: The financial industry, including investment banks and private equity firms, is an insatiable force seeking profit via military activity.
The war industry is composed of corporations that sell goods and services to the U.S. government and allied capitalist regimes around the world. Investment banks and asset management firms hold most shares of every major public war corporation.
Big Finance sits at the top of the war industry by purchasing most shares of war corporations and by owning war corporations. Insatiable demand for profit places immense structural pressure on the Pentagon and Capitol Hill for sky-high U.S. military and intelligence budgets, broad deployment of troops overseas, and the opening up of governmental jobs to corporations.
The Executive Branch is not exempt. Rapacious financiers—including hedge fund chiefs and venture capitalists—top the list of donors to the Biden Administration, though dark money groups prevent a full understanding of the overall campaign finance picture. Between July and September at least 67 billionaires and their spouses made contributions of more than $100,000 to committees supporting Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, according to records filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Biden’s campaign received over $9 million from Donald Sussman, CEO of Palmora Partners, a multi-billion dollar hedge fund, which has more than 260,000 shares in Raytheon, a preeminent weapons manufacturer and supplier of weapons to Saudi Arabia, which recently won a $100 million contract for Afghan Air Force training.
Another of Biden’s top donors, Jim Simons, who gave over $7 million, founded Renaissance Capital, which owns 1.2 million shares in Raytheon worth over $75 million, and 130,000 shares in Lockheed Martin worth $50 million.
Big Tech is positioned prominently among donors to the Biden inauguration celebration. Biden has been clear on the campaign trail that he does not intend to cut the military budget, even going so far as stating, “I’ve met with a number of my advisors and some have suggested in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased.” Biden’s advisors are part and parcel of the military-industrial-congressional complex. Cozying up to wealthy donors, Biden infamously assured them that “nothing would fundamentally change” in a Biden presidency.
Corporate media prevent the public from understanding the nature of the problem. A handful of business interests owns media outlets in the United States. Profit drives corporate media. U.S. corporate media (e.g. CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews) share the same business model: air what attracts the highest ratings in order to get more advertising revenue.
Corporate media hire career militants (e.g. former CIA Director John Brennan, MSNBC; former CIA Deputy Director Mike Morrell, CBS News; retired General Jack Keane, FoxNews) who further confine the debate. Retired generals and admirals regularly contribute to all forms of corporate media, often without disclosing existing ties to war corporations or financial investments in war.
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