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Sun 15 Apr 2007 12:00 AM

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The bloody business of war

Why none of us are innocent of the blood being spilt in any war.

Every day we read the newspapers, watch TV, or surf the internet to see what's new in the world, and one thing that is never absent is war. Either we are waiting for one to happen, one is in progress, or one has just ended. Yet in all of these scenarios, where war is taking place or who are the warring parties is irrelevant. Why is this the case? The answer is simple. Because, it is said, war is good for business.

The fact that people die and others suffer during a war is secondary. Just ask all those lovely people who make weapons for a living.

Do you think that they care that people die for their trade? No, they don't but people are dying for their products and services everyday.

The CIA's World Factbook estimates that in 2006 the world's GDP was US$65 trillion. It also estimates that globally the military spends around 2% of that.

This means that the world spent US$1.3 trillion on weapons of war in 2006. But surely this is a severe underestimation because it doesn't include all the auxiliary products and services needed to serve these weapons such as fuel and maintenance.

If I were conservative in my assessment, and use a total of 5%, that would mean that US$3.25 trillion was spent globally on the military in 2006.

But why would world governments spend that much of their wealth on something that they had no intention to use?

The answer is because they do intend to use it.

Sometimes they use it on foreign entities, but usually on their own people because they are the least able to retaliate. Other times it is just spent to show off.

These manufacturers make weapons because someone buys them. Someone buys them because they have a purpose for them. And so the logic goes.

This is bad logic, however, because most governments buy weapons the same way people buy cars or clothes. We need the best and the shiniest even if we never use them.

This is how these companies make their money. They convince us that we have "old" technology and we need the latest "new" technology - the latest killing technology. So we pay.

They will even go out of their way to show us who our potential enemies are. First we start off with the local troublemakers to see if these products are really worth it.

So we pay yet again. And then, once we are convinced that we can win a war, they will lead us to a "limited" one. So we pay once again.

Little do we know that each bullet has chalked up a few cents for them in profits and each rocket a few thousand dollars in profits. So why should they stop selling us our fantasy?

If money was your god, would you stop making more of it even if people died to fatten your pockets?

Please consider the following: None of us are innocent of the blood being spilt in any war.

Either we are shareholders in these companies, trade with these companies, wish that we could make money from these companies or even, and this is the worst thing we could do, just don't care.

When people die, they die because a small group wanted something immoral, but not illegal, and the majority of people did not stop them.

We are the majority. We, the people of this world, have a way of stopping them. We can stop them either by writing to them, not dealing with them, selling their stocks, exposing their lies and do whatever we can to make them know that we will not let their destructive greed go unnoticed.

Mishal Kanoo is deputy chairman of the Kanoo Group. (Column courtesy of


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