As the world stares in horror at Gaza, it sees death, devastation and anguish everywhere: shrouded corpses in the streets awaiting removal; buildings, including hospitals, leveled; medical care nearly non-existent; famine looming. 


But Israel’s six-month war against Hamas has not been an equal opportunity disaster. Some have benefitted, including Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu. His single-minded determination to eliminate Hamas — collateral damage be damned — has helped him cling to power. 


And Bibi is not the only beneficiary.  


No, the war’s winners also include arms merchants, who have enjoyed a bonanza. The returns they’ve seen help explain President Biden’s baffling inability to stand up to Bibi despite the rising body count — 33,000 people, mostly women and children — and the growing possibility of starvation for millions more. Biden hasn’t even talked a good game. After an errant Israeli air attack last week killed seven workers from the World Food Kitchen, the strongest word the president could muster was “unacceptable.” Yet at the same time he was pressing Congress to authorize a new arms package for Israel: 1,800 MK-84 2,000-pound bombs. And a week earlier, the U.S. agreed to sell 25 F-35A fighter jets to Israel, those on top of $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets previously approved. The 2,000-pound bombs are so lethal that “the U.S. military and many allies prefer not to use them in urban warfare,” according to The New York Times. Our military discourages using such massive bombs in urban warfare because the collateral damage would be “unacceptable” (my quote marks). Collateral damage is a euphemism for the mass slaughter of innocent men, women, and children.


Details about who is benefitting from Israel’s massive assault on Gaza is available on the website of the American Friends Service Committee — the Quakers. The site  ( includes a section showing exactly who is profiting from the war on Gaza. Here’s the link:


The U.S companies on the list are a who’s who of the military-industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned about more than 60 years ago. I’ve mentioned Eisenhower’s warning and its eerie applicability to today’s world previously. Here’s a link to my May 23, 2017 blog, entitled “We Like Ike — no longer”:


If you care to dig deeper, peruse the proxy statements of a few of the largest of these arms merchants. You’ll see that their boards are populated by the CEOs of large industrial companies and retired military leaders — admirals, generals and assistant secretaries of defense. The companies include Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and RTX, the latter formerly named Raytheon. I suspect Raytheon changed its name after fragments of its bombs showed up in photos of mass casualty sites in Yemen. 


Top military brass and Department of Defense officials are courted by weapons  companies because they have been customers, a relationship that becomes symbiotic: A high-ranking military officer favors a defense contractor with big orders. That officer retires from active duty then joins the board of the weapons company, which pays him upwards of $350,000 per year for sitting on the company’s board. This is the way of the world and no thinking person can doubt that it’s all about mutual back-scratching. 


Now imagine, if you will, the consternation around the board room table if Biden told Netanyahu that he was suspending arms shipments to Israel. The company’s profits, dividends and compensation would be threatened. And those board members who still have friends at the high levels of government might well warn their friends that “abandoning our staunch ally Israel” is a bad idea. The military-industrial complex shifts to high gear to protect the profits of these mammoth capitalist machines. 


The admonition will be heard loud and clear by senators and House members, particularly those whose districts are home to arms manufacturers. The politicians will feel almost insurmountable pressure to amp up the flow of weapons to Israel and anywhere else for that matter. (I haven’t even bothered to tie in Big Oil, another beneficiary of war.)  


Our nation’s economic system profits from the perpetuation of armed conflict. Israel’s continued bombing depletes its munitions stockpiles; replenishing them is exactly what Israel and U.S. arms merchants want. It boosts profits, dividends, stock buybacks, and compensation for the executives and board members. Everybody wins. 


Except, of course, the people in Gaza. And they are not losing dividends or bonuses. They are losing their lives, their children, their homes and their hope. But they are far away and they are Arabs, so we let it go on. It’s good for business. 


By the time you read this I hope the Biden administration will have altered course and demanded a cease-fire in Gaza. From what I read most Israelis want a cease-fire, except far-right religious parties. A majority of Americans also want one, except the right-wing Republicans who support giving Netanyahu a blank check while they oppose arming Ukraine against Russian invaders. 


So why can’t Biden do the right thing and tell Bibi that business as usual will end unless the slaughter and starvation of Gazans end?


You know the answer. Dwight Eisenhower warned us about it 60-plus years ago.

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About Buck Close

Deacon Buck Close serves on the staff of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Newport, RI. He was born in South Carolina, graduated from Tulane University in 1972 with a BA in Economics and Latin American Studies.

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