The Economy of War

Men are dieing, arms dealers are profiting

Whenever and wherever any war begins in any corner of the world, the prices of everything, whether oil, food, or other commodities, rise. The Russo-Ukrainian War is no exception. Amid wars, the prices and demands for weapons also increase. Weapon industries across the world have made and are still making money from this war. Unsurprisingly, the USA has the largest share in the arms market and earns the most from it. Since the inception of the war, the trade of US arms-producing companies has become historic, breaking all the previous records. The Russia-Ukraine War should thus be assessed in terms of the economic interest of the largest arms- exporting countries through the Military-Industrial Complexes (MICs).

The world’s weapon producers will simply continue to exploit man’s ability to fulfil their financial desires. The international community should take effective and rational measures to bring a ceasefire not only to the Russo-Ukraine War but also to other war-torn countries of the world such as Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and so on.  Also, it should move towards the implementation of disarmament treaties in letter and spirit and should provide effective security assurances through confidence-building measures between those countries that feel threatened by each other. Lastly, the objective of ‘The New World Order’, which was to ensure the smaller states’ security, and not the major powers’ national interests nor the monopoly of arms-producing industries, must be reintroduced and reemphasized

In late February 2022, when the Russo-Ukrainian war started, it seemed like Russia could conquer Ukraine in a matter of a few days but surprisingly, Kyiv is yet to be conquered. Why is it taking so long for a big power like Russia to conquer Ukraine? What are the factors that keep Ukraine confident in its resistance against Russia? A possible answer can be the support and provision of modern weapons by the USA to Ukraine. For instance, the most recent military aid of $3 billion for Ukraine and its 18 neighbours alongside a package of $675 million of ammunition, armoured vehicles, and heavy weaponry was provided to the country in September 2022.

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Another unanswered question is ‘who is winning this war?’ The answer may be neither Russia nor Ukraine, but the arms manufacturing companies.

Between 2016 to 2022 the US, UK, China, Russia, France, and German arms industries exported 80 percent of the world’s lethal weapons. These largest arms-exporting countries are also involved in exporting arms to Ukraine amidst the war.

However, the USA dominates the global arms market. The share of the USA in the global arms market is 35 percent and it is the top exporter of major weapons producing hitech lethal arms, such as howitzers, anti-ship missiles, Stinger missiles, and Javelin anti-tank missiles. The top global US arms-producing companies are Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, and Raytheon. These are the US-based arm manufacturing companies.

Moreover, countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and China have raised their defence budgets. Weapons are being sold like cupcakes and weapons industry shares are increasing steadily. For instance, the share of various mentioned arm-producing companies like General Dynamics rose about 12 percent, Raytheon by 8 percent, Lockheed Martin by 18 percent, and Northrop Grumman by 22 percent. If the same practice continues, states with a minimum budget for their self-defence will be in unending fear of war. Ultimately, it is the failure of assurances provided by the treaties signed by non-nuclear states for their safety and survival and international peace and security.

The arrival of military hitech weapons such as laser weapons, automatic rifles, and hypersonic missiles has made the world more insecure, urging the states to focus more on defence than human development. US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his tenure (1953-61) rightly expressed his fear of the military-industrial complex. He said, “Every gun that is made, every warship that is launched, and every rocket that is fired signifies in the final sense a theft from hunger that is not fed. Those who are cold and not clothed”.

The world’s weapon producers will simply continue to exploit man’s ability to fulfil their financial desires. The international community should take effective and rational measures to bring a ceasefire not only to the Russo-Ukraine War but also to other war-torn countries of the world such as Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, and so on.  Also, it should move towards the implementation of disarmament treaties in letter and spirit and should provide effective security assurances through confidence-building measures between those countries that feel threatened by each other. Lastly, the objective of ‘The New World Order’, which was to ensure the smaller states’ security, and not the major powers’ national interests nor the monopoly of arms-producing industries, must be reintroduced and reemphasized.

Sakina
Sakina
The writer is Assistant Research Fellow at the Balochistan Think Tank Network, Quetta

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