Smedley’s Racket Revisited
Despite the end of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars large and small have a way of persisting & drawing our attention, if not our resources (we’re waiting to see how the ISIL issue impacts our drawdown). As we refocus our forces on being smaller and leaner while “pivoting” towards the Pacific, Iraq & Syria demonstrate that problems in the Middle East will continue meaning that we, the US & “the West” in general, will be forced to remain heavily involved in some way.
A May 2014 blog post in National Defense Magazine points out that the US may be shifting its focus to Asia but defense contractors remain focused on the Middle East. Given the gist of the article, I cannot help but be reminded of Smedley Butler’s book “War is a Racket” prompting me (and others) to wonder if such companies influence the generation and / or propagation of “instability” in the region as a way to ensure continued profits. It is understandable that defense companies will ply their wares in a region full of people who seem bent on mistrust and revanchism prompting their predilection for large, well-armed forces. But if MG Butler’s book is any guide, one only need to follow the money to see where our military is likely to end up in the next few years.
The Pacific may be the preferred focus of the US government, but the Middle East seems to be the preferred focus of US industry. Perhaps there is something to the maxim “Business is war”.
Morgan Smiley is a retired US Army officer currently working as a Force Development Analyst in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia .