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Noble Piece Prize?!
The war on terror is an excuse to boost the sales of US defence MNCs
When Lockheed Martin had embarked on the ambitious F-16 project [which eventually became one of the world’s most versatile and successful fighter aircraft], little did it know that this nuclear-capable strike aircraft that can literally wipe out a city would one day be termed as a tool for fighting terrorism. And if the respected Mr. George W. Bush is to be believed, these aircraft are such a potent force in the fight against terrorism that Pakistan would desperately need a diversion of funds to the extent of $230 million for the ‘upgrade’ of its ‘ailing’ fleet of F-16s from the Foreign Military Fund (FMF), which otherwise could have been used to strengthen the counter terrorism expertise of Pakistani forces engaged in the Afghan-Pakistan border. This is in addition to the 36 new F-16s that Pakistani Prime Minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani (extreme left) has engineered from the US. That the $230 million ‘upgrade’ money will be diverted to causes other than aircraft maintenance is a bygone diplomatic finality. That the upgraded F-16s can be well used to deliver bombs on ‘civilian’ territories speckled with spartan ‘terrorists’ resulting in more civilian casualties than terrorist ones, is a fact well proven in the past. But that these aircraft can be put to immediate use to show excessive love to Pakistan’s neighbours [Did someone whisper India?], is something that suspiciously seems to be the primary reason these F-16s are being bought in the first place.
But why would Bush, who has mentored the war on terror, want to do something like this? Well, the issue is simple. When it comes from the US, ‘aid’ is merely a transfer of funds, which is then routed back to US as the equipment are mostly bought from US vendors only. Consider this $230 million which Bush is planning to transfer to Pakistan; this money would help no one but Lockheed Martin, the original manufacturer of F-16s, in more ways than one.
The US Armed Forces have stopped procuring the F-16s a long time back as they are looking forward to the arrival of the fifth generation Joint Strike Fighter. So Lockheed Martin [read Bush] is trying very hard to sell off the remaining pieces to the third world and also make as much possible from the repair of the vintage artefacts that were sold nearly a couple of decades back. Had Bush been really serious about helping Pakistan in its war on terror – at the same time making money – he would have rather given Gillani the brand new AC-130 gunship, the one that the US has regularly used to attack Al-Qaeda in Somalia and Afghanistan. But then, there is no dearth of cash rich buyers for AC-130 gunships. Why waste a hot selling product over bad rubbish? Further, the moment Pakistan acquires the F16s, India won’t be far behind to order more armaments from the US.
All in all, the entire war on terror is nothing but a tool to help the US defence industry. In a CATO Institute Policy Paper (No-539), the famed Charles V. Pena writes, “The US could better fight the war on terrorism by investing in better intelligence gathering unmanned aerial vehicles, special operation forces and language skills... It is important to remember that the large US military with its forward-deployed global presence was not an effective defence against the 9/11 hijackers.” Yet, when the priority is maximising the profit of the US multinationals, who cares if the war is eventually lost or won, and who cares if millions of Pakistanis remain malnourished! Mr. Bush could well end up winning the Noble Piece Prize; er, for the pieces he’s made of this globe...
By:- Pathikrit Payne
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