The past week saw two senior executives forced to resign in the United States after admitting to their respective infidelities. The head of the CIA, General David Petraeus, abruptly resigned after his affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was exposed by the FBI. In the not-so-covert battle for control over federal resources between the FBI and the CIA, this was one of the biggest coups staged by one federal agency against the other.
Around the same time in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area, another affair led to a forced resignation of Christopher E. Kubasik, who was the then President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Lockheed Martin Corporation. Mr. Kubasik, who was in line to become the CEO in the near future, was booted from the company after “an ethics investigation confirmed that he had a close personal relationship with a subordinate employee.” Having an affair with a subordinate is “inconsistent with our values and standards”, said Robert J. Stevens, chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin, which is one of the world’s largest defense contractor and is responsible for manufacturing several deadly war machines.
Lockheed Martin is literally embedded with the US government’s defense and other key departments. According to William D. Hartung, the company “received $36 billion in government contracts in 2008 alone, more than any company in history.” Realising that the company’s latest reported annual revenue is $47.3 billion, while it received $41.5 billion from the US government during 2011 (see the table below), it appears that Lockheed Martin exists primarily on the US government’s contracts. One still wonders how is Lockheed Martin able to secure such huge contracts from the government year after year.
Ten largest contractors with the US Federal Government
Funds received from the US government in 2011
|Lockheed Martin Corporation||
|The Boeing Company||
|General Dynamics Corporation||
|Northrop Grumman Corporation||
|United Technologies Corporation||
|L-3 Communications Holdings Inc.||
|Bae Systems Plc||
William Hartund in fact sheds some light on the quid pro quo between Lockheed Martin and the US government by revealing that Lockheed Martin spent “$12 million on congressional lobbying and campaign contributions in 2009 alone. Not surprisingly, it's the top contributor to the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman, Republican Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, giving more than $50,000 in the most recent election cycle. It also tops the list of donors to Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI), the powerful chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.” Under the guise of lobbying, the weapons manufacturer has spent several thousand dollars in getting those legislators elected who may be sympathetic to its core mission and values. Such investments in affecting the electoral outcomes perhaps does not violate Lockheed Martin’s values and standards.
The nexus between the US civil and military establishment is indeed strong. The relationship is even more pronounced when the Republicans control the White House. Notice below how Lockheed Martin’s stock sustained an upward climb between 2001 and 2009 during the Bush presidency. The company’s fortunes reversed when it became apparent in late 2008 that Democrats would control the White House. The profitability of American firms manufacturing the ornaments of war rely on the military adventurism of the US government. In the absence of war, companies like Lockheed Martin would have to engage in less ‘glamorous’ tasks, such as counting people for the Census!
The other villain in the story, General David Petraeus, though is not your typical soldier. He earned a Masters and a Doctorate in International Relations from Princeton University. He was also hailed by the Washington insiders and the Newsweek Magazine as the man who ‘saved’ Iraq. While the Newsweek magazine is too weak to appear in print (as of January 2013), several Washington insiders are still rooting for the General who led the 101st Airborne Division in 2003 and later in 2007 was put in charge of the surge in Iraq.
The surge did not work in Iraq. After decades of wars and sectarian strife, Iraqis got tired of killing and they reorganised along the sectarian lines in cities. With Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds retreated to the safety of their respective ghettos, the killing spree ended in Iraq. However, this did not happen before nearly 120,000 civilians died in the American imposed war on Iraq, which was waged on false pretences. The General also led Nato forces in Afghanistan during 2010-11, where civilian deaths since 2006 have exceeded 12,800.
How is it that the Americans are not outraged by such massive atrocities caused by their civil and military leaders? Why is that women groups in Washington, DC, and elsewhere are flabbergasted after learning about affairs of their leadership, but are not moved by the misery of others caused by the same individuals? With thousands of civilians dead in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans should ask why these wars were waged in the first place and what have they achieved in the end.
I hope that these extramarital escapades distract the civil and military leadership in the United States from waging wars on others. Monica Lewinsky served the same purpose when Washington, DC, was gridlocked in 1995 because of the tussle between President Clinton and the Republican controlled Congress. The US could have waged another war to get the House in order, which it didn’t courtesy Ms. Lewinsky.
However, when President Clinton was pushed into a tight corner on August 17, 1998, during his testimony before the Grand Jury about his affair with Ms. Lewinsky, the US establishment indeed resorted to firing missiles, which landed on August 20, 1998, on Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum, Sudan. The missiles completely destroyed the factory and as a result subsequently caused the deaths of thousands in Sudan because with Al-Shifa gone, they had no alternative source for basic medicines.
While I reserve the ‘moral’ judgement on extramarital affairs, I am all for such rendezvous as long as they keep the American executives distracted and pre-empted from waging wars on others.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.
Murtaza Haider is a Toronto-based academic and the director of Regionomics.com.
He tweets @regionomics.
The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.