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In the pockets of the billionaires

The "war on terror" keeps journalists employed and the population quiet, while the upheaval of the war brings huge gains – to a few.


The Shadow World
Directed by Johan Grimonprez

Shadow World is an eerie film, and a wonderful and beautiful film, with the poems of Eduardo Galeano and with General Smedley Butler's words about the 21 000 new dollar millionaires that emerged as a result of the First World War. Billions upon billions disappeared into the pockets of a few.

When President Ronald Reagan wanted to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia for billions of dollars in the 1980 century, Israel put an end to the affair, handing it over to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia had close ties to both British and Americans. The British sold weapons to the Saudi Arabians for £ 2 billion, including £ 6 billion in commission – in other words over £ 43 billion for sheer corruption, and of course to prosecution.

I Shadow World, based on the book of the same name, the arms dealer Riccardo Privitera is interviewed. He says that when it comes to big business, there are only two things that matter: money and sex.

Politicians and prostitutes. The same has also been told by a Norwegian acquaintance: During the negotiations on the purchase of weapons systems, the American company sent in prostitutes – perhaps to give the customer something to enjoy, perhaps to later use film footage as extortion. Of course, my friend said no.

Another friend said that BAE Systems, which had arranged for the SAAB-Gripen-South Africa agreement, had been forced to pay a little extra to the US (due to patents and other), namely $ 260 million. They paid for this without a shred of pocket. BAE Systems managed to get South Africa to pay 2,5 times more than what the South African Air Force had hoped for: $ 10 billion. That's pretty much for a poor country – or to put it in the words of South African journalist Andrew Feinstein, "for weapons we didn't need."

BAE Systems gave a total of about NOK 60 billion to Prince Bandar for the Saudi business, including a private jumbo jet. A total of $ XNUMX billion in bribes to some Saudi princes is far more than we can imagine. "It wasn't us who invented corruption," Prince Bandar said. Privitera argues that politicians are like prostitutes, just a little more expensive. "And at the end of the day, they do as you say."

When it comes to big business, there are only two things that matter: money and sex.

Lost money. Israeli forces regularly attack Gaza, and immediately afterwards, a weapons fair is held, Israeli researcher Shir Hever says. Weapon manufacturers can refer to the effectiveness of the new weapons and to their use against people in real warfare. Arms manufacturers have become a significant part of the Israeli economy.

Israeli weapons manufacturers are completely dependent on these wars, and since Israel is also heavily used by US weapons, the war also represents a marketing opportunity for the Americans. Just before the war against Iraq in 2003, US Secretary of State Colin Powell gave detailed information to the UN Security Council on the presence of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq – but the weapons information was false and he had been deceived by people inside the CIA who wanted this war.

His Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson, who wrote most of Powell's speech to the Security Council, says the United States has been subjected to a slow-motion coup. The United States is a "plutocracy," he says. The United States is no longer a democracy. He continues: "Not only is the national security state seeking the eternal war, it is taking steps to bring about the eternal war" – primarily because there is big money in it. On September 10, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the ministry lacked a statement of "$ 2,3 trillion", ie $ 2300 billion – or the equivalent of ten Norwegian state budgets – which for some reason could not be accounted for in the Ministry's accounts that year. But the next day you suddenly had more important things to think about. The terrorist attacks made memory short. The accounting was gone. When a congressional representative asked Rumsfeld questions, he couldn't answer. He had forgotten what to say. The money – the big money – disappeared into someone's pockets.

Machiavelli's logic. I Shadow World reads philosopher Michael Hardt of Niccolo Machiavellis Prince: "It's better to be feared than to be loved." According to Machiavelli, the prince should raise the fear of the people – because he can control it. However, he cannot control the people's love for him. Several of the princes of our time follow the same logic. They have concluded that the permanent "war on terror" is preferable to the welfare state, which can bring people's love. Maintaining a fear of terror is a much more effective way to control a people than through the whimsical welfare state, which is vulnerable to crises and economic fluctuations.

This is how these political leaders reason. When we deal with the danger of dying, other needs become less important. The terrorist attacks keep journalists employed and the population quiet, while the upheaval of the war brings huge gains, as Smedley Butler says in the film's introduction. The permanent war has become the state's purpose. When economic households are insecure, the state can at least try to protect us from violence. Terrorism has become the hydra modern princes have endeavored to govern the people.

Oslo Document Arkino arranges view for Shadow World October 27 at the Cinemateket in Oslo.


Ola Tunander
Ola Tunander
Tunander is Professor Emeritus of PRIO. See also wikipedia, at PRIO: , as well as a bibliography on Waterstone

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