Pondering the new book I've been reminded of some other Evil Machines or rather Evil Machine makers I wrote about in the Guardian a couple of years ago. Here's the piece:
Dear arms industry,
Congratulations! At this time of economic crisis, when everyone is tightening their belts and reducing expenditure because of the monetary meltdown, you're the one industry that's still expanding. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, worldwide military expenditure has increased by 45% over the past decade. In 2008 the Russians gave you a cool $59bn, the British $65bn, the French $66bn, China $85bn and the good ole United States a whacking $607bn.
I mean who would have thought that making, selling and servicing machines that kill people would be the best paid job on the planet? How on earth do you do it? I'd really like to know, because I've just invented this machine for creating a force-field around a house, capable of withstanding attacks by 16ft-high crabs, using only strawberry yoghurt and camomile soap. It doesn't work, of course, but then nor does military expenditure. There is no correlation between a country's military spending and how safe its citizens feel. Five years after 9/11 and the resulting rise in military expenditure from $300bn to $500bn, CBS News reported that four out of every five Americans said the war in Iraq had increased the threat of a terrorist attack. While the US has increased its military spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, other countries, such as Germany and Japan, have actually kept their expenditure flat or even reduced it. Does anyone feel less safe in Japan or Germany as a result? So my question is: how do you get people to buy something that nobody wants and that clearly doesn't do what it says on the tin? What's the marketing strategy? Is it creating a climate of fear? I suppose if you're going to sell machines that kill other people, you have to earmark somebody that it's OK to kill. And if you can make out, at the same time, that the people that it's OK to kill are actually trying to kill you, then bingo! You've got a deal.
So perhaps I should be going round my neighbourhood putting up pictures of 16ft high crabs attacking people's houses, with slogans like: "They're real! They're here! They're anxious to move into your house!". Or should I simply be offering jobs in Giant Crab Protection Industries Inc to influential senators? I can't help noticing that in the good old days of the cold war, you guys in the arms industry successfully used communism to persuade people that spending on the military was a necessity.
Well personally I think 16ft high crabs are a jolly lot more scary than Nikolai Bulganin or Mikhail Gorbachev. And now that you've somehow managed to persuade the public that Islam is an even bigger threat to democracy and western values than communism ever was, I'm more convinced than ever that I've got a good chance with the giant crabs. What people don't realise is that giant crabs really envy our American way of life. They yearn for rampant unemployment, drive-by shootings and a healthcare system that is a blot on the civilised world.
Of course I realise that what I really need to get my business going is "some catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor" (as the Project For The New American Century put it so succinctly a year before 9/11). So I'm just hoping and praying that some 16ft-high crabs will come out of the sea and rampage across America before the end of the year.
You never know your luck.
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