A common motif to the narrative of NATO conflict in Ukraine has to do with war profiteering by the arms industries.

There is absolutely nothing new here. We can extend this argument, of course, to MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-thinktank complex). This is the insufferable Incubus which determines US foreign policy.

Through NATO and the QUAD and other similar pacts the Incubus extends internationally. Through the use of propaganda, it is a machine that also determines mainstream media coverage because it is central to US and global capitalism, as are the media and the corporate giants of which most of them are components or to which most of them are subservient.

The Incubus provides sustenance for the millions of its employees. It props up the economy in the best and the worst of times. It determines ideology, thought and ways of thinking, since the ruling ideas are always the ideas of the ruling classes. The Incubus, in other words, gives us all “meaning,” a sense of “purpose.”

War itself provides the rationale for the Incubus. As we have seen in so many “lost” wars such as in Vietnam, or Afghanistan, it really doesn’t matter whether wars are won or lost, since either way, MICIMATT and its allies are the prime beneficiaries. Even their lives are far more secure than those of ordinary citizens.

So too in the NATO-Ukraine War, the Incubus is already the winner. It is a foregone conclusion. A huge swathe of western taxpayer money is being funneled or laundered, perhaps we should say, to the plutocracy through the arms industries. Expansion of NATO to Sweden and Finland is an extraordinary gift to the same elites since these countries must now acquire new weapons to ensure that they meet NATO “standards.”

And if Russia were to win the war, who cares? NATO members will probably require even more, not less, investment in arms than if NATO won the war. Besides, don’t forget about China! In the much bigger picture, we can see certain “advantages” to the depopulation that is usually a result of war since perhaps this will reduce the oh-so-tiresome pressure on the fossil fuel industries (MICIMATT is their most enthusiastic client) to decarbonize the world.

There are other secondary but curious implications of the war for the arms industries. For example, as US/NATO countries risk destruction of their economies in the name of “democracy” – in order to “protect” a decidedly less-than-democratic and very corrupt country, Ukraine – by pouring taxpayer wealth into arms for the Ukraine morass (in place of propping up flailing US infrastructure, for example), they risk these weapons being destroyed or captured by Russia. Not a problem, since this merely requires the dispatch of even more weapons, and funneling even more western taxpayer money to the arms industries.

How about if Russia captures and uses these weapons against Ukraine? Not a problem, because the US is not proposing to put (its own) boots on the ground. Ukrainian (and Russian) infantry are the fodder for the manufacture of US arms profits.

How about if Russia reverse engineers any of these weapons so as to improve the efficiency of its own weapons (where US weapons still have an advantage – not so much of an issue in the nuke realm)? Not a problem because the US/NATO countries will funnel even more of their taxpayer money to the arms industries for further weapons research and enhancement.

What could possibly go wrong? Suppose the weapons, as in Syria, end up in the hands of extremist Nazi or Islamist or nationalist or similar militia. Not a problem, because the multiplication of militia contributes to the social and economic and political disintegration of countries that Washington does not like or really care about; besides, extremist militia help continue the climate of war and continuation of war is good in principle for arms industry profit and for the Incubus.

But mightn’t these disintegratory tendencies also impact the NATO countries of Europe themselves? Not really a problem, because the wars still continue and that is good for profit, and the profits are going mainly to the plutocratic class and they can be highly mobile so far as the avoidance of war zones is concerned.

So in effect there is very, very little that MICIMATT truly cares about beyond its own survival and hegemony, also illustrated in its invulnerability to public outrage after each mass shooting in the USA, of which we have had 220 already in 2022. More danger equals more fear for the propaganda ‘machine’ to exploit, leading to demand for weapons and more demand for “protection” from security forces and the State, equals more, justification for MICIMATT and more profit for its affiliated industries.

(Featured Image: “alaska” by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC BY 2.0.)


  • Oliver Boyd-Barrett

    Oliver Boyd-Barrett is Professor Emeritus (Journalism and Public Relations) from Bowling Green State University, Ohio and (Communication) from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. His first book, The International News Agencies, was published by Constable/Sage in 1980, and its French sister, Le Traffic des Nouvelles (with Michael Palmer) by Alain Moreau, in 1981. Since 2000 he has focused on issues of war and propaganda. Recent titles include Hollywood and the CIA (Routledge), Media Imperialism (Sage), Western Mainstream Media and the Ukraine Crisis (Routledge), Russiagate and Propaganda (Routledge), Media Imperialism: Continuity and Change (Rowman and Littlefield)(with Tanner Mirrlees), Conflict Propaganda in Syria (Routledge). Two current projects deal with Russiagate: Aftermath of a Hoax (Palgrave), and Afghanistan: Aftermath of Imperial Occupation (provisional).

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