One of the few elected Democratic lawmakers with an extensive anti-war record, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), has combined forces with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) to push legislation that would ban federal agencies from using taxpayer-backed funds to provide weapons, training, intelligence, or any other type of support to terrorist cells such as al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other group that is associated with them in any way.
The Stop Arming Terrorists Act is so unique that it’s also the only bill of its kind that would also ban the government from funneling money and weapons through other countries that support, whether directly or indirectly, terrorist nations such as Saudi Arabia.
To our surprise—or should we say shame?—only 13 other lawmakers out of hundreds have co-sponsored Gabbard’s House bill. Paul’s Senate version of the bill, on the other hand, has zero co-sponsors.
While both pieces of legislation were just introduced in early 2017, no real action has been taken as of right now. This proves that Washington refuses to support bills that would actually provoke positive chain reactions not only abroad but also at home. Taking a look at the powerful special interests that would lose a great deal if this bill were signed into law gives insight into why it has stalled.
With trillions of tax dollars flowing to companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and even IBM, among others, companies that invest heavily in weapons, cyber security systems, and other technologies that are widely used in times of war would stand to lose a lot—if not everything—should the United States reverse course, say goodbye to the empire, and once again become a nation that stands for peace and free market principles.
For one, these companies have a heavy lobbying presence, ensuring that lawmakers sympathetic to their plight are elected every two years. When the possibility of a new conflict appears on the horizon, these companies are the first to lobby heavily for immediate action. This dynamic is far from a secret, as the American war machine has been an unmistakable reality for generations.
We all know that the crony capitalist system thriving in Washington, D.C. is the very bread and butter of politics in America. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned the nation in his farewell address back in 1961 that “an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” were quickly becoming the shadow powers behind U.S. politics, and that if we were not weary of this influence, we would risk living in a perpetual state of war.
Sadly, Americans allowed the military-industrial complex to take over. Eisenhower’s worst fears came to pass, and there is not one industry powerful enough to counter this destructive authority. With the support of an army of well-established lobbyists with a practically limitless amount of wealth at their disposal, the war machine has grown so powerful that virtually anything can be turned into an existential threat.
Any conflict abroad that has absolutely no importance or that poses literally no threat to the common American is inflated to become a threat to the American way of life. They hate us “for our freedom.” Therefore, we must show them what democracy looks like.
Without the same kind of powerful and wealthy team behind the cause for sanity and peace, this army of big money and big lobbyists has singlehandedly put us and generations to come in debt over Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and now Syria. As the marketing machine behind this kind of lobbying effort taps into the social justice trend that has infiltrated every aspect of our culture in recent years, these organizations have learned to get broader support from the public by they adding feminist, anti-poverty, and pro-equality messages to their pro-war efforts.
Take the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, for instance, which, as NBC has reported, originated with “Obiageli Ezekwesili, a former vice president of the World Bank for the Africa region and a senior advisor on Africa Economic Development Policy for the Open Society Foundations.” In no time, the social media “effort” had become the most effective lobbying force behind the expansion of the never-ending war on terror. Whether it was meant to promote this outcome or not, it helped the United States invest more tax dollars into a fruitless war that shows no signs of stopping.
Even if Gabbard and Paul managed to use all of their time to force the Stop Arming Terrorists Act through Congress so it could get to President Donald Trump’s desk, the powers at play in Washington would do their best to sweep this effort under the rug. This is not because individuals involved in pro-war lobbying are necessarily thirsty for war per se, but the system under which they operate creates bad incentives that produce a great deal of wealth and influence for those who create death and destruction. The table is constantly tilted in favor of the most rapacious influences imaginable.
Without a state that can be bribed, companies would be left to fend for themselves and stay afloat by making customers… happy. And you can’t make customers happy if all you have to offer is war.