War profiteering and Syria

I have read the same suspicion many times in the last few days: It asserts that the military industrial (-congressional) complex (or plain "arms makers") want an attack on Syria (or similar attacks) because this will make them into war profiteers: They would make profit on it.

This is too simple if not primitive. I claim that the reality is more devious.

A few hundred combat aircraft flying two sorties per day for a week or two may expend a lot of ammunition, kerosene and need some spare parts as well, of course. The actual combat sorties would be a superior substitute for training missions, though. The kerosene and spare parts would substitute for about the same expenditures during training.

The munitions are a different matter, but even assuming the intensity mentioned above, the price of the ammunitions spent would merely account for a few billion Euros. The replacement would be dispersed over 2014-2020 approximately and would hardly create a noticeable spike in the combined military budgets of the participating military forces.

I don't think that the expenses of such a limited intervention are what a military-industrial complex is after.

Instead, it's more devious:
The real profits are not in waging war, but in preparing for it. The Western peacetime budgets usually dwarf the supplementary budgets for military operations nowadays.

What the military-industrial complex and its shills are really after is a perception:

The voters shall perceive the military as useful in foreign policy challenges. It shall perceive the forward-leaning, intervention-leaning stance as justified. The U.S.Navy's incredibly expensive cruising of very distant waters all the time instead of training in waters near North America can only be justified with a quicker availability for action, for example. It's not about defence. Same goes for the forward deployment of troops and combat aircraft on bases. It's all very expensive.
Entire military forces have been developed towards warfare far away from home, and this requires a recurring (false) justification by their use in such conflicts.
Just look at how carrier enthusiasts point at how naval air power participated in a string of wars. They use this as a justification for very expensive carrier fleets, but they never tell you how useless said wars were or how almost always land-based airpower could have done the job as well (and actually did it in parallel).

The military-industrial complex isn't seeking these unnecessary smallish conflicts because of the extra turnover from the war costs. It does so because these unnecessary smallish conflicts are widely (and I think erroneously) accepted as justifications for the bloated peacetime military budgets which sustain the bulk of the profits and all those officer billets.
Besides, I'm not even sure that the military-industrial complex is actively pushing for such small conflicts. It appears to have established a more indirect strategy in which plenty people work for its interests on their own, based on their warped perceptions of the world.



  1. I think you've really got something here, and I can certainly see a lot of validity in the conclusion you come to. I wonder, though, how much of that line of thought is intentional and how much of it might be subconscious.

  2. I agree with Brant. "Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity and incompetence".

    I do not believe in a devious conspiracy by the "military-industrial complex" to inflate defence budgets. I'm sure that they are all convinced that every dollar/euro/whatever that goes into the budget is justified by "National security", and that they firmly believe that all the unnecessary wars are really justified and unavoidable.

  3. I think you're correct, in part, although I also believe that those small conflicts can and probably will lead to a much larger conflict, much like Iraq.