Outrage over the unilateral, arbitrary killing of people from Pakistan to Yemen with unmanned US military aircraft – drones – is growing beyond just the regions being bombed and the offices of CODEPINK. It’s even sneaking its way into the US Senate, if only for a hearing. Though opposition to remote-controlled killing may not be mainstream, now it’s at least being acknowledged. But is this outrage being bankrolled by the military-industrial complex?
That’s what one military expert who has never served in a military is suggesting. On Twitter, the armchair warrior who goes by the name “The War Nerd” postedthat he keeps “having this feeling that a big part of the drone outrage is funded by Lockheed Martin.” It was a bold claim, backed by the argument that “Defense [sic] is all about $” and a fighter jet costs a lot more than a drone. The post was subsequently shared by a number of left-wing journalists, primarily his colleagues at the Not Safe for Work (NSFW) Corporation, an outlet that is essentially Playboy without the pictures.
But is it true? Well, if Lockheed Martin is fueling outrage over drones, as some on the left are now suggesting, it is going about it in a most curious way. Indeed, it almost appears as if the the world’s largest military contractor is funding support for drones, aware that while they might sell for less than a jet, that only means the government can buy more of them.
For instance, consider: The chairman of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, which exists to “[s]upport policies and budgets” that promote the increased use of drones, is California Republican Buck McKeon, who also chairs the House Armed Services Committee. McKeon’s top campaign contributor? Yeah, it’s Lockheed Martin. Henry Cuellar, a Texas Democrat who co-chairs the caucus – stacked with dozens of the best friends the military-industrial complex ever had – also gets cash from Lockheed Martin. In fact, the Bethesda, Maryland-based company gives more money to congressional drone advocates from border states (that is, the politically more important ones) than any of its competitors.
Another way Lockheed Martin is financing opposition to President Barack Obama’s drone wars in perplexingly bizarre ways is by funding a favorable PBS documentary on the “Rise of Drones.” And by ramping up its own production of unmanned aircraft and buying out its drone-manufacturing competitors. And by building planes that carry drones. And by building the “video-game-like interface” that helps drone operators pilot Lockheed Martin’s drones.
It is all very strange, isn’t it? Why would a firm that manufactures drones and drone-supporting congressmen and drone-carrying planes and drone-flying computers be funding opposition to its products? It just doesn’t make sense. It’s kind of stupid, really. It’s really stupid.
Say what you will about America’s merchants of death, the folks running Lockheed Martin have been pretty adept at making money. Last year, the company had revenues of over $47 billion, more than 80 percent of which came from the US government. They would not, it seems, be dumb enough to bankroll a campaign against a technology they tell their investors is one of their key “growth opportunities.” The simple answer to why Lockheed Martin would be funding outrage over drones is: Um, it wouldn’t be. It’s not. Wait, do I smell booze on your breath?
And that raises its own question: If Lockheed Martin is clearly not behind drone outrage, who is funding the shoot-from-the-gut conspiracy that said outrage over drones is being driven by something other than dead bodies? Corporate America, actually. Mr. Nerd, as a staff writer for NSFW, is paid for by way of a generous grant from executives at the online shoe store Zappos, a subsidiary of sweatshop titan Amazon.com. And his colleagues are just as divisively conspiratorial, it turns out, with one positing that the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” was a CIA plot to turn Americans against Muslims, a theory that similarly furthered the right-wing agenda by dividing the left – or at least seeking to – and furthered the gross, right-wing-approved narrative that there was something inherently fishy about Muslims building a place of worship in Manhattan.
Conspiracy theories have been crafted out of less.