When corporations choose despots over democracy

Amy Goodman writes:

Egypt has been the second-largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid for decades, after Israel (not counting the funds expended on the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan). Mubarak’s regime has received roughly $2 billion per year since coming to power, overwhelmingly for the military.

Where has the money gone? Mostly to U.S. corporations. I asked William Hartung of the New America Foundation to explain:

“It’s a form of corporate welfare for companies like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, because it goes to Egypt, then it comes back for F-16 aircraft, for M-1 tanks, for aircraft engines, for all kinds of missiles, for guns, for tear-gas canisters [from] a company called Combined Systems International, which actually has its name on the side of the canisters that have been found on the streets there.”

Hartung just published a book, “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.” He went on: “Lockheed Martin has been the leader in deals worth $3.8 billion over that period of the last 10 years; General Dynamics, $2.5 billion for tanks; Boeing, $1.7 billion for missiles, for helicopters; Raytheon for all manner of missiles for the armed forces. So, basically, this is a key element in propping up the regime, but a lot of the money is basically recycled. Taxpayers could just as easily be giving it directly to Lockheed Martin or General Dynamics.”

Likewise, Egypt’s Internet and cell phone “kill switch” was enabled only through collaboration with corporations. U.K.-based Vodafone, a global cellular-phone giant (which owns 45 percent of Verizon Wireless in the U.S.) attempted to justify its actions in a press release: “It has been clear to us that there were no legal or practical options open to Vodafone … but to comply with the demands of the authorities.”

Narus, a U.S. subsidiary of Boeing Corp., sold Egypt equipment to allow “deep packet inspection,” according to Tim Karr of the media policy group Free Press. Karr said the Narus technology “allows the Egyptian telecommunications companies … to look at texting via cell phones, and to identify the sort of dissident voices that are out there. … It also gives them the technology to geographically locate them and track them down.”

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3 thoughts on “When corporations choose despots over democracy

  1. Vince J.

    The United Fruit Company is a murderous US corporation responsible for many deaths and torture in Central America…
    The Iraq illegal invasion is another example.
    The US government hates democracy.

    Watch on YouTube the documentary “The War on Democracy” by John Pilger.

    another excellent document is “The Panama deception”.

  2. Christopher Hoare

    This is no surprise — the structure and ethos of capitalist corporations is essentially and openly undemocratic — of course they support the institutions that pay them. No corporation shareholders’ meeting allows free debate and dissent from the floor — Everyone should experience the dictatorship in action at a large corporation’s meeting at least once in their lives. The shareholders do not enjoy any democratic privilege like ‘one shareholder one vote’ but are subject to the overwhelming power of the few with the most. (The whole of our political progress of the past 500 years has been predicated on eliminating this aristocratic holdover where the largest fortunes have controlled the largest number of votes, and consequently the preponderance of lawmakers in the legislature. One man one vote is diametrically opposite to the accepted norm in economic and financial theory.) Not only this but the law of our lands uphold these anti-social, anti-individual, anti-progressive travesties.

    It’s about time that the citizens of countries where democracy is revered should open their eyes to the snakes in their midst an de-fang them.

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