[Documents menu] Documents menu

Date: Wed, 8 Jul 98 12:48:36 CDT
From: Sid Shniad <shniad@sfu.ca>
Subject: Military enforces multinational corps domination
Article: 38605
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.27913.19980711121530@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

The TNCs and arms production: Military alliances serve as enforcers of TNC domination

By Mark Frank, CCPA Monitor, March 1998

Tony Clarke, in his important book Silent Coup, points out that one of the essential conditions for transnational corporations in developing their investment strategies is the assurance of political stability and security—for them, if not for the general population.

Just how will this security be delivered? Among the many tools at hand for TNC domination is the use of military force, either from abroad or within the country targeted for investment.

In the 19th century, this was simply called gun-boat diplomacy. Now it’s called responding to threats to peace, good government and political stability. And if NAFTA, the MAI, and other trade and financial agreements are designed to make the world safe for the TNCs, then surely military alliances like NATO, and armies, big or small, serve as the TNCs’ enforcers of a new kind of imperialist globalization.

Thus the TNCs and the corporate community have a direct, continuing and vested interest in military arms production. The deployment of military equipment serves their global and now their outer-space interests to maximize profit and domination. The relationship between the military and the TNCs is symbiotic, in the sense that they feed on each other.

Some corporations actually fund their own private military detachments, spy, intelligence and security services, geopolitical strategies and tactics, communication services and media agencies, entirely independent of the governments and countries which they occupy.

Other TNCs suborn the governments of sovereign states by propping up and supplying those political factions that will best advance their aims. They are the shadowy backroom players in the recurrent tensions and internal wars that plague many parts of the world today. (Shell Oil in Nigeria, U.S. oil monopolies in the Persian Gulf and in the Caspian, NATO in Bosnia, and now in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.)

The TNCs are avid promoters of militarizing the economies of countries in which they operate. They encourage and facilitate trafficking in arms, increasing military budgets, as now in Poland and the Czech Republic, in anticipation of large NATO arms contracts; and they strongly support and promote the arms bazaar industries.

In Canada, the newly-appointed Chief of Defence Staff, General Maurice Baril, has said that Canada needs a war-ready force. If it’s in the vital interests of Canada that such-and-such a place in this world is stabilized, he told The Toronto Star, we’re going to go with the other folks. He didn’t specify who the other folks are, or the vital interests involved, but clearly he proposes automatic commitment, without Parliament’s approval, to whatever military adventures are undertaken by the United States, which dominates the military alliances to which Canada belongs.

The TNCs feed on violence, wars and international tensions. They are today’s merchants of death, inheriting this mantle from the pre-World War II arms-traders.

In his remarkable confession just prior to his death in 1940, the infamous U.S. Marine Corps General Smedley D. Butler set out his record of service to the corporations, a record that is being surpassed by the military-corporate complex of today.

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service, Smedley declared, and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for big business, Wall Street, and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I helped make Mexico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped to make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped to make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927, I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested.

General Butler spoke as well for our time, only today the whole world is the target of the U.S. military, acting for the TNCs. They have a vested interest in the arms industry. Each country that joins the expanded NATO will be required to retool every aspect of its military in order to match the standards of western military technology, ranging from communication devices to machine guns to fighter aircraft. It’s a multi-million-dollar refit to make the various national militaries compatible.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (Oct. 20, 1997), nuclear lab programs are being funded by a dramatic expansion in the annual U.S. weapons budgets, which after their initial post-Cold War decline, are now expected to rise by 33% in current dollars over the 1995-1999 period. The program is currently projected to cost $60 billion over a 13-year period, including some $19 billion in new construction and equipment acquisitions. This is a windfall for the corporate sector.

Working people do not require bloated arms production to assure their security in jobs. The Canadian labour movement has advanced clear positions on conversion of military production to social purposes, as have most peace organizations such as the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade and Project Ploughshares.

The military exercise of muscle is designed to make Europe and the former Soviet Union safe for Mobil Oil, Exxon, and a long string of other TNCs in a post-cold-war new world order in Central and South America, Asia and Africa. The 1991 example of the massive deployment in the Persian Gulf for oil mastery is still fresh in our minds.

Currently, a consortium of seven western oil companies is seeking to split off Russia’s southern flank, the former Central Asian Republics of the Soviet Union. Georgia, Azerbaijan and Khazakhstan are being courted for their oil, especially in the Caspian sea, which contains reserves greater than those in the Persian Gulf. These companies are AGIP, British Petroleum/Statoil, British Gas, Mobil, Pennzoil, Shell and Total.

Working for this consortium of western oil companies are Brent Scowcroft (former U.S. National Security advisor); Zbigniew Brzezinski (former White House advisor); Richard Cheney (Ex-Defence Secretary); John Sununu (Ex-White House Chief of Staff); James Baker (Ex-Secretary of State); and Lloyd Bentsen (Ex-Treasury Secretary).

The U.S. has defined its military doctrine to include a comprehensive nuclear targeting plan, with clear emphasis on nuclear war-fighting against Third World insurgencies. The plan also calls for the seizure of critical raw materials, especially oil.

The U.S. Space Command has also released a document Vision for 2020, which states: Space forces will emerge to protect military and commercial interests and investments in the space medium....there will be a critical need to control space to ensure U.S. dominance. The planet seems to have become too limited a sphere of operations for the U.S. military-industrial complex.

Clearly, in building a People’s Resistance against TNC world domination, we must factor in two major realities.

The first is the link between issues of world peace, military spending, the arms trade, and the TNC agenda. The strategy of struggle against the TNCs must link the social and economic injustice generated by the TNCs with the larger issues of world peace, foreign policy, the traffic in arms, and military spending in general.

The second reality is the current political framework, in terms of the various parties and their roles and policies on the TNCs.

With some notable exceptions, committed anti-corporate activists either ignore these two factors, or address them sporadically, in seeking to shape a common front against the TNCs. For example, while Tony Clark cites military armaments in a long list of public concerns and people’s struggles (CCPA Monitor, September 1997), his book Silent Coup is regrettably silent on this issue.

The same appears true for the program material for the Toronto teach-in on Challenging Corporate Rule last November, which omitted a critical workshop theme Corporate Rule and World Peace from its wide-ranging list of workshops.

Here are some useful sources of relevant facts and figures:

Press for Conversion: The Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, Ottawa; Project Ploughshares, Conrad Grebel College, Waterloo, Ont.; Transformation Moment: The Report of the Citizens’ Inquiry into Peace and Security (1992); the Canadian Women’s Budget, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (1993); the World Assembly for Peace, Documents, Mexico City (1996); World Military and Social Expenditures, Ruth Leger Sivard; Deep Water Danger: Nuclear Warships in British Columbia, video; End the Arms Race (1996); Bombs Away: Airshow Canada, Globalization, and the New International Arms Trade, video.