Top Arms Corporations Spent $1 Billion on Lobbying During Afghan War, Saw a $2 Trillion Return

Here's some Americans who won the Afghanistan war (and will win every war until the last one)

With the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s return to power, the unwinnable nature of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is increasingly obvious to Americans across the political spectrum. That’s probably one reason why over half of Americans support Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan even while disapproving of the handling of the withdrawal, according to a Pew Research poll released on Tuesday.

There will be inevitable finger-pointing for why three successive U.S. presidents continued the war in Afghanistan despite public reports and the congressional testimony from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, casting serious doubts on the viability of efforts to nation-build in Afghanistan.

Indeed, the United States paid a high price for these mistakes — the Cost of War Project at Brown University estimates that the war in Afghanistan cost U.S. taxpayers $2.3 trillion to date and resulted in the deaths of 2,324 U.S. military personnel, 4,007 U.S. contractors and 46,319 Afghan civilians — but those costs weren’t shared by everyone.

While the American people financed the war with their tax dollars, and in some cases their lives, the top five Pentagon contractors enjoyed a boom in growth in federal contracts over the course of the war in Afghanistan. Stephen Semler, co-founder of the Security Policy Reform Institute, found that Congress gave $2.02 trillion to the top five weapons companies — Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman — between 2001 and 2021.

And between 2002 and 2020, federal funding for those five weapons companies grew by 188 percent.

In fairness, the weapons companies invested heavily to lobby members of Congress about a variety of matters, including budget and appropriations issues impacting their bottom-lines.

That wasn’t cheap. A compilation of data from lobbying disclosures archived at OpenSecrets shows that those five firms spent over $1.1 billion on lobbying between 2001 and 2021. That number seems like a staggering sum to spend on influencing policymakers but it may have been the most financially prudent decision these companies have made in the past 20 years.

Taken as a form of investment in procuring lucrative Pentagon contracts, the top five weapons firms earned $1,813 in Pentagon contracts for every dollar spent on lobbying, a 181,214 percent return on investment and a 43.76 percent annualized ROI between 2001 and today.

Of course, the weapons firms made other investments in influencing policymakers. They sent $120 million in campaign contributions to federal candidates between 2002 and 2020, hired former government officials to sit on their boards while simultaneously advising U.S. policymakers to extend the withdrawal timeline from Afghanistan, and bankrolled think tanks that opposed the withdrawal and supported ongoing U.S. military engagement in the Middle East.

But those investments dwarf in comparison to the over $1 billion explicitly spent to influence policymakers via legal, registered, and documented lobbying, leading to enormous federal contracts and outsized gains for owners of weapons stocks.

“$10,000 of stock evenly divided among America’s top five defense contractors on September 18, 2001 — the day President George W. Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and faithfully reinvested all dividends, it would now be worth $97,295,” according to The Intercept’s Jon Schwarz.

The exact same investment in an S&P 500 index fund would be worth only $61,613.

The Global War On Terror was very good for a select group of companies that invested over $1 billion in lobbying Congress and securing over $2 trillion in taxpayer funds. While the American public takes a hard look at how and why an unwinnable war was fought at a staggering financial and human cost for two decades, the war’s biggest profiteers appear to be facing little accountability or scrutiny, especially from the policymakers who were the target of a billion-dollar lobbying blitz.

Source: Responsible Statecraft

  1. yuri says

    amerikans cannot govern themselves, no zero about sociology, philosophy, history believe they can judge how civilized peoples govern themselves—farcical

    1. Mr Reynard says

      Oy Vey.. Shekels are Shekels !
      There are NO Shekels in sociology, philosophy, history….

  2. Chinook says

    Since the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 was signed into law by a corrupt Preisdent Wilson and the private Federal Reserve Bank was formed (owned by 8 Zionist banking families (4 in the US and 4 in the UK/EU), the Zio Globalist Cabal have controlled all US major banks, Wall St, most Fortune 500 companies, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Media, Big Tech, Hollywood, Las Vegas and the Military-Industrial-Complex, the Arms merchants which profit from endless wars, like in Afghanistan.

    To take America back the US Govt needs to first nationalize the Federal Reserve Bank and prohibit Lobbying in Congress where billions of dollars are used to bribe the corrupt Senators and Representatives.

  3. Rebel Forever says

    ‘War is a racket’- Smedley Butler…always has been, always will be.Rebe

  4. Chinook says

    “the Cost of War Project at Brown University estimates that the war in Afghanistan cost U.S. taxpayers $2.3 trillion to date and resulted in the deaths of 2,324 U.S. military personnel, 4,007 U.S. contractors and 46,319 Afghan civilians.”

    Plus the Biden Administration left behind in Afghanistan a cache of $83 Billions worth of arms, Humvees, Trucks and aircraft and helicopters. What a waste.

    The American public is now awaken to the scams by the Zionist-controlled Arms Merchants in the Military-Industrial-Complex.

    All the Taxpayers’ money wasted in endless wars could build a few dozen High Speed Rails across America, New Airports, plus renovating 55,000 Bridges and countless Highways, which are all in a rickety condition.

    There will be no homeless Americans, ten of thousands of whom are sleeping in the streets of San Francisco, LA, Atlanta and New York and using the streets as their public toilets. Disgraceful.

    Wake up America !! Stop the Warmongers !!

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