Not long ago, on a Friday night, I scrolled through the comedy genre of movies on my laptop and came across ‘War Dogs’. Instantly, it drew my attention. I hastened to watch the trailer and it seemed like a very entertaining movie. It was – until I realised what I had just watched. I watched a comedic version of our reality. In the movie, two young friends in their twenties living by Miami Beach during the Iraq war are becoming international arms dealers for some extra cash. They go on crazy adventures and the movie overall was very exciting. But it also showed us the dark side of the arms industry. Deaths, destruction and devastation – It meant nothing to the arms dealers. The boys got the opportunity for one of the deals to sell weapons to the US government that they would use to kill and would make the friends 300 million dollars. 300 MILLION DOLLARS.
Sometimes we sit and think to ourselves, considering the fact that tax payers money that you and I pay subsidises the arms industry (YouGov, 2014) – ‘why are there still wars and bloody conflicts and how does war benefit anybody?’ It’s not always disputes between a few nations that lead to a very long lasting war. There are many different reasons why wars happen. It could be anything from the fight for oil, religious based wars, ‘humanitarian intervention’ occupations and invasions etc. Globally, views on why we have war and what causes it differ. We have fascists, who always advocate for war and think it is a virtuous activity. We also have what’s known as pacifism, which is a position some religious or green parties maintain and believe war is never justified. Realists, Pluralist Liberals and Marxists believe that war can sometimes be justified. Overall, opinions vary greatly. But the sickening part is when killing people is justified with the fact that the arms industry prospers including businesses and even governments benefit financially from causing deaths and demolition.
The importance of the arms industry and arms companies goes as far as them being able to impact security and defence policies (Calvo Rufanges, 2015). There have been many occasions whereby the pronounced British foreign policy was completely different to the actual practice and the actions the British government was taking. For instance, the arms company in the 1990’s by the name of ‘Matrix Churchill’, a Coventry based engineering firm. Following the Kuwait war, this firm was selling military hardware to the Iraqi government. However, at that time there was a boycott on selling to the Iraqi government. This led to the firm being taken to court and what became apparent was that members of and directors of the firm were themselves in the pay of British intelligence services (Phythian and Little, 1993). This shows that there is a real lack of cognisance on British current foreign policy and arms deals in general by the public. The neoliberal era has shown that nothing is too valuable to sacrifice at the crucible of short term accumulation of capital and the march of industry is considered to be far more important than anything else (Hall, Massey and Rustin, 2015).
A contemporary debate regarding the issue of the arms industry is the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia. The same weapons the UK sells to the barbaric kingdom of Saudi Arabia are being used in an inhumane war crime against Yemen. We are selling them weapons to, [according to the prime minister], have even more influence on human rights and to boost ties (Independent 2017) – but like many cases in the past, this is just another method of gaining profits.
This film reminded me about our reality and how a neoliberal system prefers profits over everything even if it costs us lives. A film that was supposed to be enjoyable and take my mind of the filth, greed and deaths in the world only saddened me more. Next time, I might consider watching a movie that is not ‘based on a true story’.
Calvo Rufanges, J. (2015). The Arms Industry Lobby in Europe. American Behavioral Scientist, 60(3), pp.305-320.
PHYTHIAN, M. and LITTLE, W. (1993). Parliament and Arms Sales: Lessons of the Matrix Churchill Affair. Parliamentary Affairs, 46(3), pp.293-308.
(YouGov, 2014) https://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/11/09/public-attitudes-tax-distribution/
(Independent, 2017) http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-saudi-arabia-theresa-may-allies-liam-fox-trades-deals-europe-beware-a7664741.html
Hall, S., Massey, D. and Rustin, M. (2015). After Neoliberalism?. London: Lawrence and Wishart Ltd.