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Conflicts of interest
October 10, 2013 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Conflicts of interest in the Syria debate: An analysis of the defense industry ties of experts and think tanks who commented on military intervention
posted by AElfwine Evenstar (14 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria.

The sobriquet "former national security adviser to George W. Bush" should be enough to discredit anyone as an analyst on Syria. That Hadley might make a buck off of the deal could hardly discredit him more than his associations with the Iraq war.

And that's the thing. It's not just that there might be a conflict of personal interest. The real problem with commentators such as Hadley is that they have such a clear, unwavering prejudice on matters of war: War is always the answer. It is propaganda, not analysis, to ask the hammer what it thinks should be done about the nail.
posted by three blind mice at 1:19 AM on October 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is what American war is about. It's about Raytheon. It's about money. It's the handiwork of traders in blood. Shills for death. Bald-faced liars and greedy profiteers. Their continued financial comfort is more important to them than the lives of any Syrians and any American soldiers. Simple as that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:43 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Though the military-industrial complex is as plain to see as the nose on Dwight D. Eisenhower's face there have been conflicts where I would have supported some type of intervention. Rwanda for certain. In Somalia [I lived in Iowa for a time and the amount of food produced there is absurd] we should have just made it rain corn rather than try and control the distribution points. The Syrian conflict has bad people on both sides and though chemical weapons are horrible you end up just as dead from conventional weapons. I only wish both sides would fucking stop.

TFA is a calm and thorough analysis of an old problem.
posted by vapidave at 4:01 AM on October 11, 2013


The impressive thing about the Syrian debate has been how many people who are inclined to think "war is the answer" realized that war, or at least American intervention-style war, wasn't the answer here. For better or worse, the Iraq experience has put home the notion that when you start to think about invading a country for its own benefit, you really ought to think twice.
posted by MattD at 6:27 AM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's worth mentioning that there are supporters of US intervention in Syria who aren't connected with the defense industry. Nick Kristof of the New York Times and human rights activist Mia Farrow come to mind.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:35 AM on October 11, 2013


For better or worse, the Iraq experience has put home the notion that when you start to think about invading a country for its own benefit, you really ought to think twice.

Also Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc. America hasn't had a war that was worth getting into since WWII.
posted by Slinga at 6:36 AM on October 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


America hasn't had a war that was worth getting into since WWII.

Fifty million South Koreans would likely disagree.
posted by Etrigan at 6:46 AM on October 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


America hasn't had a war that was worth getting into since WWII.

More than a few defense contractors would vociferously disagree, of course. It's always worth it for them!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:47 AM on October 11, 2013


It's worth mentioning that there are supporters of US intervention in Syria who aren't connected with the defense industry.

I'm not sure why it's worth mentioning, but even if I stipulate its value, I'd think it's also worth mentioning, then, that at least some of these people might have different opinions if they weren't given a steady diet of inaccurate information and spin, promulgated by the very same establishment figures identified in this report.

I'm very appreciative of the large amount of heavy lifting that PAI put into this study.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:13 AM on October 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


So I went to Google to see if Syria has actually given up their chemical weapons, and I found this: Syria chemical weapons monitors win Nobel Peace Prize.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:37 AM on October 11, 2013


How it should work: "Joining us today is Stephen Hadley, who serves on the board of a company that manufactures machines for killing people. Thanks for being with us, Stephen. We're given to understand that your proposed solution for this problem is to use machines to kill people. Can you elaborate?"
posted by aparrish at 9:05 AM on October 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


...your proposed solution for this problem is to use machines to kill people

...your proposed solution for this problem is for the U.S. government to purchase additional machines from your company and then to use those machines to kill people...
posted by spacewrench at 9:17 AM on October 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


If you RTFA instead of arguing, you would find this:

The following is a selection of commentators, profiled at greater length below, who have multiple undisclosed ties to the defense industry and have expressed strong support for military intervention in Syria in multiple appearances:

Jack Keane has strongly supported striking Syria on PBS, the BBC, and Fox News. Though Keane is currently a director of General Dynamics, one of the world’s largest military services companies, and a venture partner of SCP Partners, a defense-focused investment firm, only his military and think tank affiliations were identified in all sixteen appearances.

General Anthony Zinni has expressed support for military action in Syria during three appearances on CNN and one on CBS This Morning, and has been quoted in the Washington Post. Though a director with major defense contractor BAE Systems and an advisor to defense-focused private equity firm DC Capital Partners, only Zinni’s military experience was considered relevant by the media outlets interviewing him all five times.

Stephen Hadley has voiced strong support for a strike on Syria in appearances on Bloomberg TV, Fox News, and CNN, as well as in a Washington Post op-ed. Though he has a financial stake in a Syria strike as a current Raytheon board member, and is also a principal at consulting firm RiceHadleyGates, he was identified all four times only as a former National Security Advisor to George W. Bush.

Frances Townsend has appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 six times strongly favoring action in Syria. Though Townsend holds positions in two investment firms with defense company holdings, MacAndrews & Forbes and Monument Capital Group, and serves as an advisor to defense contractor Decision Sciences, only her roles as a CNN national security analyst and member of the CIA and DHS advisory committees were revealed in all six appearances.

Think Tanks
Seven think tanks. The report profiles seven prominent think tanks with significant industry ties that weighed in on intervention in Syria. These think tanks were cited 144 times in major US publications from August 7th, 2013 to September 6th, 2013. The Brookings Institution, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and The Institute for the Study of War were the most cited think tanks from our dataset.

Experts with The Brookings Institution were cited in 31 articles on Syria in our dataset, more than any other think tank. Brookings is an influential think tank that is presented in the media as an independent authority, yet it receives millions in funding from the defense industry, including $1 – 2.5 million from Booz Allen Hamilton and $50,000 – $100,000 from Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Palantir Technologies. Brookings Executive Education’s Advisory Council Chair, Ronald Sanders, is a Vice President and Senior Fellow at Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies was cited in 30 articles on Syria. CSIS has ample individual connections to the defense industry through its advisors and trustees, including CSIS Senior Advisor Margaret Sidney Ashworth, Corporate Vice President for Government Relations at Northrop Grumman, and CSIS Advisor Thomas Culligan, Senior Vice President at Raytheon. CSIS President and CEO John Hamre is a director for defense contractor SAIC.

Analysts representing The Institute for the Study of War were cited in 22 articles on Syria in our dataset. One such article by former ISW Senior Research Analyst Elizabeth O’Bagy was cited by Secretary John Kerry and Senator John McCain during congressional hearings in their effort to justify intervention.1 ISW’s Corporate Council represents a who’s who of the defense industry and includes Raytheon, SAIC, Palantir, General Dynamics, CACI, Northrop Grumman, DynCorp, and L-3 Communication.

posted by KokuRyu at 11:56 AM on October 11, 2013


I'm very appreciative of the large amount of heavy lifting that PAI put into this study.

Anyone can now do this type of research using their website: LittleSis *opposite of Big Brother.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


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