by Kathie Malley-Morrison
A series of Saudi-led airstrikes were blamed for killing scores of people in Yemen as civilians, including children, continue to suffer deadly consequences of the U.S.-backed conflict that has lasted for years…. In the U.S., the Biden administration—like previous administrations—has faced calls to stop supplying Saudi Arabia with weapons and other support being used to wage the bombing campaign on Yemen that’s estimated to have killed over 300,000 Yemenis since 2015 and unleashed what the United Nations called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.
The myriad reports describing air attacks on an already brutalized and starving Yemen generally emphasize the following points:
- The government of Saudi Arabia has been killing innocent Yemeni civilians for years, in an effort some sources have labeled genocidal.
- The US government has supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia that have been used to kill those innocent Yemeni civilians.
- Raytheon Technologies, headquartered in Waltham Massachusetts, builds many of the weapons sold to the government of Saudi Arabia and used for killing Yemeni civilians.
- Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen—through bombing and blockades–violate international
Given that the US government and its military contractors, including Raytheon, are complicit in killing innocent civilians and violating international humanitarian war, why doesn’t Congress stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia? The best answer is the usual one—follow the money.
The gilded highway between Saudi Arabia and Raytheon
Evidence of the gilded (and bloodied) highway stretching between Raytheon and the Saudi government can be found in a January 25, 2022, conference call from Raytheon Technologies Chairman and CEO Gregory Hayes to Raytheon investors. Hayes referred to military actions involving the United Arab Republics (part of the Saudi-led coalition killing Yemenis) as well as “tensions” in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea. He assured investors: “I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it.“
How much does Raytheon—including CEO Greg Hayes—garner from weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other members of the Saudi-led coalition whose “defense spending” involves the purchase of deadly weapons to commit war crimes [link] in Yemen and elsewhere? The answer is: a big bundle. Overall, Raytheon reported sales of $64.4 billion for 2021 and predicts sales of $68.5 – $69.5 billion for 2022.
The bookings for the fourth quarter of 2021 included:
- $1.3 billion of classified bookings at Raytheon Intelligence & Space
- $729 million for two Standard Missile-2 (SM-2) production contracts for the U.S. Navy and international customers at Raytheon Missiles & Defense
- $269 million for Evolved Seasparrow Missile (ESSM) for the U.S. Navy and international customers
- $227 million for the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Mid-Band for the U.S. Navy
Raytheon CEO Gregory Hayes has personally been receiving a sizable share of the bundle as a reward for the benefits accruing to Raytheon through its contributions to military actions. His total compensation in 2020 was just shy of 20 million dollars. Of this total, $1,413,333 was received as a salary, $2,500,000 was received as a bonus, $7,178,289 was received in stock options, $7,417,686 was awarded as stock and $887,798 came from other types of compensation.
The gilded highway from Raytheon to other components of the US Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex
So what does the Raytheon power structure do with all that dirty gold from Saudi Arabia? First of all, obscenely large amounts go to lobbying and political donations. For example, Raytheon’s total lobbying expenditures for 2020 amounted to $11,580,000; of that total, $11,370,000 was for “defense electronics.” Although organizations like Raytheon cannot contribute directly to political candidates and committees, they do give donations through affiliates. Using this system, Raytheon has given over $4.5 million to the campaigns and leadership PACs of senators who voted against blocking weapons sales to Saudi Arabia over the lifetime of their political careers. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has consistently supported arms sales to Saudi Arabia, has received more than $218,000 from Raytheon over the course of his Senate career, more than $60,000 during the 2020 election cycle.
Does this play a role in Saudi Arabia’s slaughter of innocent civilians? Here are some facts to consider: Pentagon Prime Contracts Issued to Raytheon totaled 26.3 billion in Fiscal Year 2019 and 27.8 billion in Fiscal Year 2020. In regard to legislation to reduce Pentagon spending in 2021, Democrats who rejected the proposed cuts received far more campaign cash (an average of $60,690) from the PACs of Defense Department contractors than did the Democrat supporting the cuts (an average of $16,497).
Conscience: The highway out of the kingdom of dirty money
The US does not have to continue being an accessory to war crimes around the world. There are people of conscience in Congress, as well as among the country’s voters, who have undertaken major efforts to stop the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia. In November 2021, bills were introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate to block the sale of $650 million worth of weapons from the United States of America to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Although similar resolutions had been passed by the House and Senate in 2019 (and vetoed by President Donald Trump), the bills were voted down in 2022—in part because several Democrats who had voted for stopping the sales in 2019 switched sides and blocked the new legislation prohibiting those sales. One must ask why. Dirty money? Perhaps. Lack of conscience and a moral center? Certainly. Reversible? Yes, with your help.
People of conscience have not given up the effort to replace the prevailing submission of the public to power and profit with a commitment to government based on ethical principles. On February 7, 2022, Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Rep. Peter DeFazio announced they will introduce a new Yemen War Powers resolution to end unconstitutional US involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen. This resolution is being supported by a broad coalition including MAPA. You can help. Urge your members of Congress to support a Yemen War Powers Resolution.