For decades, US defense contractors have reaped the benefits of protracted wars and long-term military alliances. With NATO on the verge of further enlargement and European countries looking to bolster their defense budgets, the war in Ukraine looks like another boon for the American arms industry.
TEL AVIV – Despite Ukraine’s recent impressive counteroffensive around Kharkiv, the war with Russia has reached a prolonged deadlock. But there is one clear winner: the US arms industry.
Some view these companies as the “arsenal of democracy,” as US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called the American industrial effort to support the Allies during the earlier days of World War II. And their role in helping Ukraine fend off Russian occupation is undeniable. But their profit motive and influence over American foreign policy threaten to turn the arsenal against democracy itself.
For years, the US arms industry – together with other major arms exporters such as Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Israel – has reaped the benefits of protracted wars and long-term military alliances. American contractors, now in control of 39% of the global arms trade, began rearming Europe long before Russia invaded Ukraine. While arms exports declined by almost 5% globally between 2017 and 2021, Europe increased its rearmament commitments by 19%.
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