"We have to make America the best place in the world to do business."
~ Dick Cheney.
~ Dick Cheney.
Now we know what Lockheed Martin's PKK "coordinator" for Turkey, Joseph Ralston, was discussing with Edip Baser in Germany in mid-December. They managed to come to a deal to upgrade Turkey's current fleet of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter aircraft for a sweet $635 million, from the Washington Business Journal:
The U.S. government has awarded Lockheed Martin a $635 million contract to upgrade the Turkish Air Force's fleet of F-16 aircraft.
Bethesda-based aerospace giant Lockheed (NYSE: LMT) will provide the Turkish fleet with 216 modernization kits to upgrade the F-16s. The contract also includes flight testing, training and technical support.
The award continues work from an initial contract in July 2005 and is based on an agreement signed by the governments of Turkey and the U.S. earlier that year.
Most of the work and support for the program will take place at the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics facility in Fort Worth, Texas and at Tusas Aerospace Industries in Ankara, Turkey. The contract runs through 2016.
There are thousands of Lockheed-made F-16 aircraft worldwide, with 24 countries participating in the program.
Lockheed employs about 140,000 people worldwide and reported 2005 sales of $37 billion.
Lockheed Martin reported third-quarter 2006 earnings of $629 million at the end of October and fourth quarter earnings promise to be up over previous years, and there won't be any changes in store for the defense industry, including Lockheed Martin, when the Democrats take over next year, from the NYTimes:
“I wouldn’t look for Democrats to make cuts in the defense budget,” said Michael O’Hanlan, a military expert at the Brookings Institution. “You didn’t hear a lot about the defense budget in the last campaign and the Democrats know that you don’t mess with the top line.”
Still, the industry can expect some harsh scrutiny. Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who has lead the efforts to tighten oversight of military contractors and programs, moves up to become the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Harsh scrutiny, my ass. They are all part of the game, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. There is no difference. Besides, Lockheed Martin is the top defense industry lobbyist in the US, having filled campaign coffers to the tune of some $1.5 million during the 2006 election cycle. It's big bucks like that which help Lockheed Martin lobbyists like Joseph Ralston arrange so many nice deals for the company . . . like the $635 million upgrade deal for Turkey's old F-16s, or the $2.9 billion deal for Turkey's new F-16s, or the $10 billion deal for Turkey's new F-35s.
(By the way, you can check Lockheed Martin's top recipients of lobbying funds here. President Bush comes in at Number 2 and John Murtha, the Democrat who wanted to pull out of Iraq so badly this year, comes in at Number 3.)
It's small wonder then that the US continues to support the ruling military regime in Turkey and continues to supply it with the weapons it needs to murder Kurds. Defense industry profits are the reasons why the US has rejected the PKK ceasefire and any political solution to Turkey's genocide of the Kurdish people. This is why the US and Turkey are itching to conduct military operations against Kurdish refugees at Maxmur, why they refuse to "integrate" gerîlas back into society in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, why they refuse to allow PKK to become a political party within Turkish-occupied Kurdistan, and why the Americans make the absurd argument that PKK is worse for Turkey than al-Qaeda is for the US. All of which are comments of Lockheed Martin's PKK "coordinator" for Turkey, which you can read at the US Embassy in Ankara. That Ralston visit coincided with Turkey's selection of the Lockheed Martin F-35 over the Eurofighter.
More reasons for maintaining, if not for increasing, defense industry profits can be read at the State Department from the end of September, just before the PKK ceasefire announcement and the the Pentagon's request for a Turkish purchase of F-16s made the news. In this transcript, notice how Ralston brushes off a journalist's question about Turkish troops that are already present in South Kurdistan:
QUESTION: Margaret Besheer, Voice of America. I understand there's about 2,000 Turkish troops inside northern Iraq and I wanted to know what the status -- what their purpose is there and also what the extent of U.S. troop involvement is in northern Iraq in terms of countering the PKK.
GENERAL RALSTON: I don't think it's useful to go into various force levels and where they are in Iraq, other than to say that I did have discussions with General Casey. General Casey understands the seriousness of this issue and the significance of this issue. General Casey pledged his full support. I have been in discussions with General Abizaid as recently as yesterday. General Abizaid understands the seriousness of this effort and has pledged his full support.
That's a BS answer. How many Americans know there are Turkish troops in South Kurdistan? How many know that these remain in place due to an agreement between the former US-backed Baghdad government and the US client state, Turkey?
The US has refused to allow a negotiated settlement between the PKK and the Ankara regime like, oh, I don't know, the Nepalese Maoists and the Nepalese government? The IRA and the British government? ETA and the Spanish government? But none of those places have oil, do they? And none of those governments purchase the billions upon billions of dollars of military hardware that Turkey does. I guess the US also has a contract to sell body bags to Ankara, because that's what the US is building up for, from the anonymous "experts" at The Economist:
“It's no longer a matter of if they [the Turks] invade but how America responds when they do,” says a seasoned NATO military observer. America would be loth [sic] to let the Iraqi Kurds help their PKK kinsmen fight back, since Turkey is a cherished NATO ally and a pivotal Muslim state in the region. Turkey's airbase at Incirlik, in southern Turkey, is a hub for non-combat materiel flown in for American and allied troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If Turkish forces do invade Iraq, America's response will depend largely on the scope and scale. Most probably, they would not penetrate far into the country. “If they did, they would find themselves in the position that we do in Iraq, bogged down in a guerrilla insurgency,” says Henri Barkey, an American expert on the Kurds who served in the State Department during the Clinton administration.
Plainly, it is in America's interest to cut a deal between the Turks and the Kurds, including a plan to disarm the PKK for good, in return for wider cultural and political rights for Kurds in Turkey.
[ . . . ]
With Turks and Kurds digging their heels in, the Americans hint that they may be resigned to a limited Turkish operation that aims at PKK bases close to the Turkish border; and they would tell the Iraqi Kurds to stay put. But some in the Bush administration say the Americans should actually help Turkey swat the PKK in Iraq. “At this rate,” says another American official, “we're not only going to lose Iraq but Turkey too.” That, for America, is a prospect too ghastly to contemplate.
And that is the reason Kurds need to create a greater alliance with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, because the US will never choose Kurds over Turkey. There's also a nomenclature problem in The Economist article. All references to Kurds in the article are to the Southern Kurds, not to those Kurds under Turkish occupation. Kurds under Turkish occupation are never allowed a voice of their own and the Kurdish leadership in the South has never fought for Northern Kurds. Not the Americans, nor the Turks, nor the Southern Kurdish leadership are in any position to speak for Kurds who suffer under American-backed Turkish brutality.
The PKK is the premier voice of Kurds under Turkish occupation.
What to do? Invest in body bags. Buy stock in those companies that manufacture body bags. How many times has Turkey invaded South Kurdistan to fight PKK in the past? Each time they come, they bleed, they die, they retreat. . . and the US knows this very well. The US is encouraging a continuation of this low-intensity conflict to benefit the defense industry and to maintain regional control. For the US, instability is stability. The Pashas are along for the financial ride, while pretending to be too anal to figure all of this out, but the truth is, just like the American elite, the Pashas don't give a damn how many Mehmetciks die.
When the ceasefire ends, as it must because it has been ignored by all those who claimed they wanted it, Turkey will need those body bags. Demand increases profits.
Lockheed Martin stock should go up in the next year, so it might be a good idea to invest in LMT, too.
Send all of your dividends to Qendil.