Why Blame Raytheon?

Peace Advocate November 2021

By Kathleen Malley-Morrison

Raytheon (which, since its merger with United Technologies has relabeled itself Raytheon Technologies) is culpable for every casualty, physical and psychological, human and environmental, associated with every action in which the United States military industrial complex has participated since World War II. 

Does this assertion sound wildly over-stated? Well, let’s consider some basic facts about this corporate giant. Like Lockheed Martin, Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, and other weapons manufacturing corporate giants, Raytheon is a war profiteer: it is a major player in the national and international military-industrial complex (MIC). It is also a warmonger. In order to reap enormous and ever-increasing benefits from international—and domestic—weapons sales, Raytheon has promoted, through lobbying and bribes (which they euphemistically label “political donations”), aggressive involvement of the United States in endless wars. Raytheon’s CEOs, like the CEOs of the other war profiteering organizations, spend millions of dollars every year convincing the political establishment in the US and its allies that it’s necessary to spend billions of dollars on weapons to kill  in the names of “democracy” and “security.”  

The MIC and Its Bedfellows 

Republican President Dwight D Eisenhower’s term, military-industrial complex, is distressingly apt because of the incestuous connections of the military with industry—particularly the military weapons industry, often sanitized as the “defense” industry. Some recent examples: Mark Esper worked as vice president of governmental relations for Raytheon from 2010 to 2017 before becoming Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense. Raytheon posted record levels of federal lobbying expenditures during Esper’s tenure, peaking in 2013 when it shelled out more than $7.6 million. During the US decades of slaughter in Afghanistan, the boards of directors of Raytheon and the four other profitable defense contractors included retired top-level military officers. Lloyd Austin, President Biden’s Secretary of Defense, a former general in the US Army, came to Biden’s Cabinet from his position on the Board of Directors at Raytheon. Although Secretary Austin promised to recuse himself from any decisions regarding Raytheon, just three weeks after he was sworn in, Raytheon was awarded a defense contract worth nearly 50 million dollars to supply F-135 engines for the US Navy.  

Although the MIC was originally called the military-industrial-Congressional complex because Congress so often did the bidding of the military and the weapons industry, it recently has been called the military-industrial-media complex because the prevailing corporate media in this country so steadfastly publish the propaganda spewed out by the military-industrial complex and the war profiteers embedded within it.

What the MIC Has Wrought, with Help from Raytheon: A Few Examples

Internationally, as documented by several human rights associations and reported by Medea Benjamin, Human Rights Watch, and the American Friends Service Committee, Raytheon has profited from the sales of weapons to aggressor nations; those weapons have repeatedly been used in acts of terrorism, killing thousands of innocent civilians. In the hands of Saudi Arabia’s international coalition, weapons built and sold by Raytheon played a role in repeated airstrikes on Yemen. Regarding an airstrike in August 2017, which killed 16 civilians, Amnesty International identified at least one of the bombs as Raytheon-built. Human Rights Watch identified the use of Raytheon’s GBU-12 Paveway bombs in a 2016 attack that killed 31 civilians, including 3 children. Thirty-six of these air strikes killed 513 civilians and injured at least 17 more. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Israel has employed Raytheon missiles and bombs in repeated attacks on densely populated areas in the West Bank and Gaza, and the United States and its allies have used several weapons systems made by Raytheon in their war on and for terrorism in Afghanistan. According to Wikipedia, during the War in Afghanistan, as of April 2021, over 47,245 civilians, as many as 69,000 Afghan military and police, and more than 51,000 Taliban fighters had been killed. The Cost of War project estimated in 2015 that as many as 360,000 additional people died through indirect war-related causes.  

Raytheon Complicity in Violations of Human Rights and International Law

Medea Benjamin summarizes the case nicely: “To profit from wars on some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world, from Yemen to Gaza to Afghanistan, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics have developed a business model that feeds on war, terrorism, chaos, political instability, human rights violations, disregard for international law, and the triumph of militarism over diplomacy.”  

More specifically, regarding Yemen, the killings of innocent civilians by weapons sold for profit by the MIC, including Raytheon, have been labeled violations of international law and possible war crimes. Although the thousands of civilian casualties resulting from Israeli attacks on Palestine conducted with weapons from the US have received little condemnation by the American corporate media, they have not been ignored by the international human rights community. For example, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and United Nations commissions have all identified those attacks as “human rights violations, collective punishment, and at times war crimes” (AFSC report). A new Amnesty International report shows that industrial companies such as Raytheon do not use due diligence to prevent their products from being used in possible human rights violations and war crimes. Raytheon’s response has been that, once the weapons have been sold, it is not responsible for how they are used.

The US military’s invasion and bombing of Afghanistan has been identified as violating international law, including international humanitarian law, and even domestic law because of the US’s ratification of the United Nations Charter (which makes the Charter part of the law of the land under the Constitution). According to that Charter, no country can use military force against another except in self-defense.

Going Forward

In pointing the finger of blame at war profiteering/warmongering weapons manufacturers for their role in thousands of deaths of innocent civilians and the destruction of their homes and sources of sustenance, why have I singled out Raytheon? It is not the only corporation that has put profits before people, and schemed, lied, and propagandized to reap profits from the destruction they sow. The answer is that like Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), Raytheon’s headquarters are located right here in Massachusetts: right in Waltham, close to Boston. Recently, MAPA members engaged in an action highlighting Raytheon’s hypocrisy in advertising itself as a major donor to a Run to Home Base charity race sponsored by the Red Sox. Is it time to bring that message closer to home? Raytheon’s home?

If you are interested in learning about and perhaps joining in future actions against Raytheon’s profiteering from military weapons, including nuclear weapons, please contact Paul Shannon at PShannon@afsc.org.  Be sure to put “Raytheon Campaign” in the subject line.

— Dr. Kathie Malley-Morrison is a professor emerita of psychology at Boston University, specializing in peace studies and in life-span human development.