In spite of absolutely zero benefits reaped from foreign wars to the American working class, politicians from both parties continue to vote in favor of more US military intervention, predominantly in the Middle East while the CIA conducts its usual clandestine operations involving regime change in Latin America. Stay tuned for a future article on this topic in the coming weeks. While a genuine albeit minority within Congress deviates from the war hawk votes in opposition to expensive and pointless conflicts, the overwhelming presence of interest groups from defense contractors to pro-Israel organizations spend millions of dollars a year lobbying to pressure senators and representatives over the notable and long-standing opposition to war by the American people. The backbone of our republic has a lengthy, proud history of anti-war demonstration, stretching all the way back to World War I but alas, elitist profiteers always triumph in the end.
Besides outside pressure groups with financial incentive to destabilize and massacre entire nations, a number of politician, even big names, helped themselves to a slice of the war profit pie or were the recipient of lucrative financial contributions from the defense sector. These elected officials listed below may or may not surprise you. What is assuredly undebatable is both political party affiliations are guilty in this matter of unethical conduct, effectively evidencing to Americans the illusion of choice each election cycle.
1. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Senior US Senator from California since 1992, Feinstein made a name for herself as a crusader for gun control in America, claiming in a 2012 Senate debate that “guns” as special interests have too much power in Washington. Interesting enough, while Feinstein justifies her gun control measures in order to curtail violence in the United States, her foreign policy simply reflect a personal desire to export violence for profit in the Middle East.
After voting in favor to invade Iraq in 2002, Feinstein claimed she was “misled” by President Bush, except this was possibly a deceitful cover for her husband Richard Blum to collect millions of dollars from a civil infrastructure construction company known as Perini in which he exerted a 75 percent voting share. After the military invasion and the destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure, causing untold devastation and chaos, the US Army Corps of Engineers gifted $500 million to Perini for Iraq’s Central Command services. Another $500 million was presented to Perini in March 2004 for “electrical power distribution and transmission” in southern Iraq.
Senator Feinstein’s office explained to Sludge that she “has no involvement in her husband’s financial and business decisions” while also addressing that the $650,000 in Boeing stock belongs solely to her husband managed by a blind trust. Right, so Feinstein’s consistent pro-intervention votes, war mongering propaganda, and the hush-hush 2006 purchase of a $16.5 million mansion in Pacific Heights, San Francisco for “better homeland security” after Blum’s war profits were made all have no bearing on her foreign policy decisions, in addition to the advantageous gain to her defense sector donors according to the Center of Responsive Politics.
2. Susan Collins (R-ME)
Businesswoman and senior US Senator representing Maine since 1997, Collins is the longest-serving Republican woman in the Senate to date – a career politician. At the beginning of her first term, Collins cooperated with extending American imperialist ambitions by voting against limiting NATO expansion to ‘only’ Poland, Hungary, and Czech subsequently voting in favor of further enlarging NATO to encompass Eastern Europe and allow for all necessary force in Kosovo. Besides Feinstein, Collins unsurprisingly voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution in 2002. In 2003, she voted YES on a bill that appropriated a whopping $86.5 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As member of the Defense Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee responsible for drafting the acquisition section of the yearly Defense spending bill, this is where serious conflicts of interests emerge. The defense invoice includes billed funding for the Defense Department to purchase from private contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman. So in 2020, when the Defense appropriations bill permitted $1.85 billion for F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircrafts and other war materials from Lockheed Martin, it was revealed through the latest Senate stock disclosures that Susan Collins through her spouse has investments amounting to maximum value of $101,000 in Honeywell, United Technologies, and Boeing stocks. As for defense sector donations, political action committees (PACs) and individuals combined contributed an approximate total of $185,800 for the 2015-2020 Senate election cycle as disclosed by Open Secrets.
3. Tom Carper (D-DE)
His stances on border security took a much needed insight into addressing the root causes of migration from Central America. This is empty rhetoric however. One of the main factors behind overwhelming migration from Central America stem from CIA regime change operations that overthrew democratically elected presidents, plunging these sovereign and relatively economically stable governments into chaos and civil war. The twentieth century is full of examples on why interventions, even under humanitarian facades, only worsens foreign situations and spawn native population resentment. And yet, Carper voted for hawkish neoconservative bills including the 2002 resolution to invade Iraq, $86 billion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, renewing the PATRIOT Act and sanctions on Iran. To his credit, Carper voted to end military actions against Iran but this bill, which passed 55-45 in February 2020, specifically prohibited American military actions against Iranian targets unless Congress authorizes the use of force.
Back in 2013, Carper proclaimed the U.S. goal in the Syrian Civil War should focus on militarily weakening Assad and strengthening “moderate forces” which of course were later proven to be terrorists. President Obama had secretly authorized the CIA’s Special Activities Division program to train, fund, and arm Syrian rebel fighters to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad known as Operation Timber Sycamore beginning that same year. When it came to the Syrian conflict, the Delaware Senator Carper explained in a 2014 press release his vote for the bill to fund the government and authorize Obama to train and equip “moderate Syrian rebels.” Alongside his open-border stance as estimated by the U.S. Border Control (USBC), one has to wonder if Carper’s former position as chairman and ranking member of the Senator Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs if it occurred to Mr. Carper those “root causes” of refugee crises and unyielding economic migration are spawn from acts of war – acts in which he voted in favor for repeatedly.
Could there have been a financial motive for such counterproductive series of choices? The latest defense stocks invested by Tom Carper through his spouse list his maximum value of investments as $130,000 in Honeywell, Raytheon, and Boeing. These investments began in 2006 and have ranked consistently among the top three Democratic Senators since then. In 2018, his investments in the defense sector amounted to $64,500 alone.
4. Rick Scott (R-FL)
Defeating his Democratic opponent and weapons money recipient Bill Nelson for the Florida Senate in 2018, Senator Scott firmly backed Trump’s decision to launch missile strikes in Syria over Bashar al-Assad alleged use of chemical weapons in 2017 which again turned out to be propagated fake news. Scott elaborated on his interventionist stance on Syria as a “fight for freedom” in the following:
“I think it’s very important that America stands for freedom. I think we’ve got to defend our borders and our rights and all those things,” Scott added. “But every chance we have the opportunity to help another group of individuals fight for freedom, we’ve got to do it.”
This is not a humanitarian mission of the United States. This is military aggression used to maintain its sphere of influence in the Middle East and at the behest of a powerful foreign state and lobby. Border security is vital for a nation’s survival, but simultaneously backing military destabilization efforts overseas will inevitably reap a refugee crisis to burden the responsible nations. This would seem like common sense on the surface, but once again perhaps financial incentives are a factor for holding these hawkish views. In 2019, it was revealed the Florida Republican possesses holdings in defense contractors despite serving on Senate committees tasked with regulating that industry, particularly overseeing the Pentagon’s budget. Among those contractors are Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, the latter being among the nation’s top weapons contractors.
5. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Known for being Tennessee’s first Jewish congressman, Democratic representative Steve Cohen did start off with reasonable anti-war positions during the Bush administration pertaining to Iraq. Cohen acknowledged Bush had lied about Iraq in order to propel its imperialist invasion and co-sponsored impeaching Dick Cheney for partaking in the lies one of which “openly threatened aggression against Iran absent any real threat to the United States, and has done so with the U.S. proven capability to carry out such threats, thus undermining U.S. national security.”
However, once Barack Obama succeeded Bush, Cohen’s foreign policy stances flipped, once again demonstrating how party loyalty trumps principle. While “working closely” with former President Barack Obama, the president had agreed to nominate several of Congressman Cohen’s recommendations for federal positions. When it came to foreign intervention, Cohen co-sponsored the Syria Accountability and Liberation Act, strengthening sanctions on Syria and among several stipulations set forth “diplomatic measures intended to isolate the government of Syria” while directing the President to “provide assistance to support a democratic transition in Syria.” In 2011, despite past criticism of the Bush administration for its aggression against Iran, Cohen signed both the Iran Threat Reduction Act demanding boycott and sanctions against Iran for terrorism and nukes and the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act again calling for sanctions on Iran to end nuclear program. As for nukes and terrorism, haven’t we done our fair share?
Upon the NATO-directed campaign that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, Steve Cohen celebrated this American-NATO force alliance by tweeting: “Libya falling/proud to have supported President on air war and no boots on ground.Pan Am 103 justice finally!” This was in reference to the December 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland which was bombed by Libyan operatives, killing 270 people. Party loyalty is certainly a probable factor for the sudden endorsement of belligerent military campaigns. This is especially outlined by Cohen’s resolution expressing support for NATO in Central and Eastern Europe and “countering Russian aggression.” However, per usual, there is also the matter of profit enticement. In 2018, according to Open Secrets, Congressman Cohen’s amount of investments in Boeing ranged $51,002 to $115,000. In the same year, his investments in Northrop Grumman ranged from $100,001 and $250,000, the highest investment of any member of Congress that year.
After the storming of the Capitol at the start of 2021, Cohen remarked that white male members of the U.S. military could pose a threat to the country since the majority did not vote for Joe Biden as president, citing that 75 percent of the Guard protecting the Capitol “are in the class that would be the large class of folks who might want to do something. And there were military people and police who took an oath to defend the Constitution and to protect and defend it who didn’t do it who were in the insurrection. So it does concern me. But the vetting at the last minute…”
Such gratitude coming from a Congressman who was protected by the National Guard during the so-called insurrection in which one casualty, namely Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, occurred not at the hands of rioters but Capitol police. As for Cohen’s case, so long as you can profit, supporting the storming of other nations’ capitols through congressional co-sponsorships is apparently acceptable.
Stayed tuned for part two of this article; there is no shortage of war profiteers in Congress with even bigger names that may astonish you. Defense lobbyists certainly have much to gain by keeping the war machine going in contrived conflicts overseas. For the politicians, they’re merely the lever for this mechanism and American taxpayers are the fuel except the final product of war earnings is received by politicians and lobbyists.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.