At an event in Kyiv which hosted 250 “defense” industry corporations from 30 different countries on Friday, President Zelensky gave a speech urging war profiteers to open factories in Ukraine to cut out the middleman of securing and delivering so many weapons from abroad.

The Mad Propaganda Push To Normalize War Profiteering In Ukraine

CAITLIN JOHNSTONE  September 30, 2023 / Repost December 18, 2023

Update, December 18, 2023, Editor’s Note: Another 64.1 billion in military aid has now been pledged for 2024 for Ukraine ($14.4 billion for Israel). Much In this money will land in the coffers of Congress who get large donations from U.S. manufacturers of weapons. It’s a viscous cycle. In the   previous post Ira Stoll asks “Populists on the right and left attack us. Who do they think protects us?” My response is, What do you call protection? Spending ga-zillions of dollars, that is wasting ga-zillions of dollars, on Ukraine.

But is protection spending all that money on weapons and war really protection? The increase in homelessness, the increase in hunger–those who do not know where their next meal is coming from, especially children–is that protection? While members of Congress and the defense industry ride on our backs and increase their millions and billions? Healthcare cost increases, roads needing fixing (infrastructure), rampant inflation, and more…meanwhile additional permission for fracking and fossil fuel extraction instead of money for slowing the climate crisis (maybe it could have been stopped if they sought solutions earlier, but it’s too late now).

Peace is more of a protection than war, in all cases. War begats war. Violence begats violence. I would like a government that cared whether we lived or died, especially in regard to people of color, that listened to its citizens and not just the ruling neoliberal elite who care about only one thing, $$$$$.  Oh, yes, and might actually care that thousands upon thousands of Gazans are being murdered by Israel.

Listen to a reading of this article (reading by Tim Foley):  -6:09

There’s been an astonishingly brazen propaganda push to normalize war profiteering in Ukraine as Kyiv coordinates with the arms industry and western governments to convert the war-ravaged nation into a major domestic weapons manufacturer, thereby turning Ukrainians into proxies of the military industrial complex as well as the Pentagon.

At an event in Kyiv which hosted 250 “defense” industry corporations from 30 different countries on Friday, President Zelensky gave a speech urging war profiteers to open factories in Ukraine to cut out the middleman of securing and delivering so many weapons from abroad. This is an investment that the arms industry would ostensibly have plenty of time to set up, given that western officials are now going out of their way to communicate to the public that this war will stretch on for many more years to come.

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Zelensky’s speech twice made use of the phrase “defense-industrial complex”, and used the phrase “arsenal of the free world” no fewer than three times.

“Ukraine is developing a special economic regime for the defense-industrial complex,” Zelensky said. “To give all the opportunities to realize their potential to every company that works for the sake of defense — in Ukraine and with Ukraine or that wants to come to Ukraine.”

“Right now, the most powerful military-industrial complexes are being determined, as are their priorities and the global standard of defense. All of this is being determined in Ukraine,” Zelensky tweeted with photos from the event.

This move has been accompanied in recent weeks by some of the most appalling mass media headlines that I have ever seen, all geared toward normalizing the military industrial complex in the eyes of the public.

In an amazingly awful Wall Street Journal op-ed titled titled “In Defense of the Defense Industry” and subtitled “Populists of the right and left attack U.S. companies that make weapons. Who do they think protects us?” Future of Capitalism’s Ira Stoll argues that the military industrial complex is actually a wonderful thing we should all love and support.

“The weapons industry protects America and its allies, keeping us safe from ruthless enemies who would otherwise exterminate or enslave us,” Stoll writes. “Raytheon helps make weapons systems that defend Israeli civilians against attacks from Iran-backed terrorist groups. These include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, SkyHunter interceptor systems and Tamir missiles. Raytheon also produces the Javelin antitank missile that Ukraine has used against Russian armor and the early-warning radars that would detect incoming missiles aimed at the U.S.”

Stoll does not name the alternate universe he is describing in which the US military is used to keep Americans safe rather than to advance imperial interests abroad.

Another recent Wall Street Journal article titled “The War in Ukraine Is Also a Giant Arms Fair” and subtitled “Arms makers are getting orders for weapons being put to the test on the battlefield” glorifies the way war machinery is being field tested on human bodies to the benefit of war profiteers.

“The Panzerhaubitze howitzer is part of an arsenal of weapons being put to the test in Ukraine in what has become the world’s largest arms fair,” writes WSJ’s Alistair MacDonald. “Companies that make the weapons being used in Ukraine have won orders and resurrected production lines. The deployment of billions of dollars worth of equipment in a major land war has also given manufacturers and militaries a unique opportunity to analyze the battlefield performance of weapons, and learn how best to use them.”

A Reuters article from two weeks ago titled “At London arms fair, global war fears are good for business” gushes over how much money is being raked in by arms manufacturers as a result of this war, with one unnamed arms industry executive telling Reuters, “War is good for business.”

Just the other day CNN anchor Erin Burnett followed up some clips of “far right lawmakers” voicing their opposition to funding for the Ukraine proxy war by pausing to explain to her audience that this funding is actually good for Americans, because it goes straight into the US arms industry.

“It’s worthwhile with all of this gaining some steam in public perception to be clear on some facts,” Burnett said. “First and foremost, the vast majority of this money is going to American companies and jobs, right, because those are the people that are making the Abrams tanks, the ammo and everything else. And you take Lockheed Martin, which makes the HIMARS, that have been core to Ukraine’s counteroffensive, the company announced it’s going to increase its workforce in Camden, Arkansas, by 20 percent, just because of this new demand.”

“That money is going to America,” Burnett added.

All this propaganda energy is going into normalizing the act of war profiteering because if you let the idea stand on its own, it would make people scream in horror. The fact that a deliberately-provoked war is being used as a giant field demo to show prospective buyers and investors how effective various weapons systems can be at ripping apart human bodies in order to profit from all this death and destruction is more nightmarish than anything any dystopian novelist has ever come up with.

Ukraine is a giant advertisement for weapons of mass slaughter, and the cost of that corporate ad is not money but human blood. If you look right at this thing it absolutely chills you to the bone. Which is why so much effort is being poured into making sure people don’t look at it.


Caitlin’s Newsletter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.   All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.

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