One of the biggest disasters to befall the world’s major arms companies was when, entirely without meaning to, the United States won the Cold War.
That victory was an appalling accident that not merely prompted dramatic cuts to defence spending, but deprived an entire generation of intelligence officers and defence officials of the excuse of an apocalyptic conflict to justify their behaviour. The clash of freedom and communism, as it turned out, didn’t quite measure up to the biblical loading it had received for so long, when our opponent was revealed as a hollowed-out bankrupt whose own controlling party was desperate to reform it.
To lose one excuse for running a Security State is a misfortune. To lose two is downright careless. Ever since, the United States has been struggling to devise a reason for continuing to support one of its most important industries. The War on Drugs did good duty for a time; the phrase “narcoterrorist” was coined and even that cool avatar of Cold War propaganda, James Bond, took on the cartels. But it was the War on Terror that provided the best excuse for reflexively ramping up military spending and encroaching on citizens’ basic rights, not merely in the US but across the West.