Israel and the economy of war

Klein suggests that, increasingly, private interests and even the global economy have become dependent on disaster and war, as through recent disasters, the threat of 'terrorism', and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US and world economies continued to accelerate.

(The global recession starting in 2008, caused by a specific set of investment practices, would likely not impinge on the central thrust of Klein's argument. I imagine, though, that she would point out the laissez-faire deregulation in banking and investment that contributed to the crash, and the fact that bailout attempts pass ever larger sums of public money into private hands, hoping to fix damage caused by many of those hands.)

In 2005 Lockheed Martin could receive $25 billion in contracts payed by taxpayers, and oil prices continued to rise, demonstrating that war, disaster, destruction, and so called 'reconstruction' can all be quite profitable to certain interests. Klein envisages an ongoing and growing synergy between the media, surveillance, security and homeland security industries that would play into and benefit from continued disasters or a constant state of fear. And so, she suggests, peace would be the biggest threat to this economic model.

And nowhere is this economy more dominant than Israel. For one of many starting points: in 2000, the Camp David peace talks with Palestine broke down as Arafat literally walked out; Hamas called the second intifada. As the stock market burst with the dot-com bubble, the Israeli government expanded investment in the technology, surveillance, and security sectors, also allowing military spending to leap. A nation ever defined by war and a security barrier separating it from its neighbours, this was evidence that war was the answer to a flagging economy.

Its history and this recent investment meant Israel was poised to benefit from the post-9/11 world. Israel joined the 'War on Terror' (Klein claims this was purely 'marketing') as its war and technology exports rapidly increased. Countries around the world subsequently hired Israel to teach them the secrets of homeland security and to train anti-terrorism forces. By 2006 Israel was the 4th largest arms deal in the world, impressive considering its size, with largely military technology making up 60% of exports. Besides the obvious conflict with Palestine, economic disparity and poverty also resulted within Israel as an increasingly select elite reaped huge benefits.

Lesson learned: Being at war constantly can bring a financial return, if a country is able to sell its experience, technology, and production capabilities to others. Peace is anathema to this economic machine, while disaster, war, and fear of terrorism stoke its engines. Fear especially enables a select group to continue to benefit from this momentum, pulling public funds into private hands in the name of security and safety. Being so long ‘tortured’ by perceived danger and terrorism, society at large takes such a state of affairs for granted, while those most interested in maintaining the status quo continue to increase reports and degree of threat, so the effects don’t wear off.

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