It was WWII that helped to shatter gender barriers for women in the workforce, encouraged the subsequent Baby Boom and allowed the U.S. to become a major player on the world stage. War has always been its own economy, and a vehicle to spark change — both good and bad — around the world. The Crusades sparked the Renaissance that was to follow, leading Europe out of an era known as the Dark Ages because of its backward thinking. But does the end justify the means?
Remember, too, that Nazi Germany was in power during WWII, and you’ll be shocked by how many companies you still recognize today worked closely with that regime. Remember that one of the world’s greatest holy cities was sacked and plundered viciously during the Crusades, and historic treasures were lost to the ages. When there is war, there is also crime.
War creates opportunities for evil as well as good, and around the world American dollars, American products and American companies are used to inspire hate, foster violence and create chaos in countries all over the globe. These are companies that contribute to, profit from, and either directly or indirectly help fuel the war economy that leads to horrific crimes against humanity all over the world.
Some of today’s top German companies were built on the backs of Jewish slaves, quite literally. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t seem possible in the modern era, but happen it did. Audi, back then known as Auto Union, used slave labor supplied by concentration camps to keep operations going in Nazi-controlled Germany during WWII. Some 20,000 people from concentration camps went to work in Audi factories. Young children and the elderly were included among those who were forcibly put to work making mechanics not just for civilians, but for use by the Nazi party. More than 4,500 slave workers died during this time while working for Auto Union.
In recent years, Twitter has been the target of more than one lawsuit. One of the most high-profile of these suits occurred in 2016 following a shooting at an Orlando, Florida nightclub. Families of the victims sued Twitter, along with Google and Facebook, for helping with ISIS radicalization. The lawsuit alleged that Twitter, et al., profits from ISIS postings via the ad revenue these companies collect. Families of people killed in the 2015 Paris attacks also accused Twitter of offering support to ISIS. Twitter’s defense was that the company is a conduit for communication, and Twitter does not speak for ISIS. The 2015 suit was dismissed. Twitter is protected by the Communications Decency Act, which guards them against legal liability for what other people say and do using their product. But make no mistake, the internet is an economy — and it’s huge one.
War is very much a money-making venture. Though based in the UK, Cummins is a global company. Cummins made $45 million from the Iraq war, providing diesel engines and power stations across the country. But Cummins also makes engines and generators that are sold everywhere, including machinery supplied to regular everyday customers. This company provides parts and offers support for all types of mechanics. Cummins was the first company to establish a power distribution grid across the whole of Iraq, so they’re making quite a bit of money from what the war has done there. Several accusations of war crimes in Iraq have been alleged from numerous sources.
Rolls-Royce is practically synonymous with luxury automobiles, but the company makes a significant portion of its money off arms sales. In 2015, defense contracts provided about one-fifth of the company’s total revenue, to the tune of $4.79 billion in arms sales for that year. Rolls-Royce contributes to power systems development and makes engines for everything from military helicopters to fighter jets. Protesters accused Rolls-Royce of abetting war crimes by manufacturing reactor cores for nuclear submarines. The British courts ruled on a similar matter in 2000 that this type of manufacturing is lawful, but it didn’t stop human rights activists from attempting to shut down a Rolls-Royce plant with a human blockade in 2008.
Terrorist groups and their followers watch the same ads that you do, and you can thank Google for that. Companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Sandals Resorts and Honda have all had their ads appear on extremist web sites and YouTube videos courtesy of Google, which distributes ads all over the internet for all sorts of companies. However, it seems Google isn’t always so careful about which ads they place on which YouTube videos. Google, which ultimately owns YouTube, was accused of not marking videos clearly enough for advertisers. And while Google has responded to complaints from various companies by removing their ads from terrorist-created videos, some clips still create revenue before they are removed. As such, several companies who buy ad space with Google end up accidentally funding terror groups around the world.
10. Environmental Chemical
This California-based company has been creating chemicals for some of the nation’s biggest industries since 1973. They provide industrial cleaning agents, oven and kitchen cleaners, food-grade oil spray, pesticides and even just plain old alcohol to school systems, food service industries, mining companies, transportation corporations and cleaning contractors, among others. This company also made more than $870 million during the Iraq war for munitions disposal. In other words, they cleaned up used ammo and spent weapons. Iraq is the 6th-largest importer of heavy weaponry in the world. This weaponry has been used in abductions, torture and deliberate harassment of civilians. There have been accusations of war crimes committed by American-trained soldiers in the current fight against ISIS in Iraq.
9. Apple, Inc.
More than 6,000 companies are actually contributing to the problem, but as of February 2017 Apple is the world’s biggest smartphone supplier. That means they’re the biggest company embroiled in the civil war raging in Congo. This country is rich in tin, tungsten and tantalum, the “3Ts” of electronics. These minerals are used in smartphones, laptops and gaming consoles. And since the 1990s, a terrible civil war in Congo has killed more than 5 million people. Militias and renegade armies earn over $180 million annually by controlling access to the mines, collecting bribes and forcing tax payments along trade routes. This is the terrifying truth of how consumers can power violence on the other side of the world. The conflict in Congo is the most deadly one the world has seen since WWII. Have you bought a smartphone lately?
There’s an ugly history underneath that gorgeous auto gleam you seen on BMW cars. Today they’re the height of style and luxury, but during WWII they were using concentration camp slaves to aid the war effort. BMW stayed silent for decades on the topic before finally admitting that they used 50,000 Jewish slaves during WWII. BMW was making ammo, rifles, artillery and other items for the Nazi soldiers to use in their takeover of the world, a terrifying ploy that came frighteningly close to actually working. Mercedes and Volkswagen both admitted to using Jewish slave labor during WWII as well. Slave labor helped build the BMW brand that now thrives worldwide. At the 100th anniversary celebration of the company, German-based BMW apologized for its role in Nazi Germany.
Though largely known for their airplanes, this Chicago-based company also gets about 35 percent of its sales revenue from arms deals. It’s the largest aerospace company in the world. In 2013, Boeing made $86.6 billion on arms deals. Boeing is also the world’s largest arms exporter. Arms from Boeing go to the Middle East routinely. Saudi Arabia, for instance, is the world’s largest arms importer. That means Boeing makes the most and Saudi Arabia buys the most, so you can do the math pretty easily. Arms from Boeing go around the world and they’re used in conflicts of all types.
As part of IG Farben, Bayer was involved in a number of war crimes dating to WWI. The company was instrumental in creating chemical warfare agents. The chemical was mass-produced during WWII, though never deployed. During WWII, Bayer parent company IG Farben build a synthetic and oil complex near Auschwitz. Jewish people being held in the concentration camp were forced to work in the plant as slave labor. When they became too weak to work, they were killed in gas chambers. After the war, IG Farben became Bayer, Hoechst and BASF. Bayer creates a huge range of products including Advantix, Aleve, Alka-Seltzer, Claritin, Coppertone, Dr. Scholl’s and Xarelto.
Though many diamond-sellers in the U.S. have taken measures to prevent the sale of blood diamonds in their stores, not all of them are doing everything they should to avoid the sale of conflict diamonds. The issue of conflict diamonds was brought to the world’s attention with the film “Blood Diamond,” but the market hasn’t changed quickly enough. Major U.S. retailers failed to provide full disclosure about where their diamonds come from in a 2004 review, including U.S. department stores like Bloomingdale’s. Along with Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s is one of the major department stores that failed to respond to Global Witness in regard to their diamonds. Only 5 out of 30 retailers who were asked responded to Global Witness with proof that their diamonds are conflict-free. In recent years, even more U.S. retailers have taken strides to provide only conflict-free diamonds.
4. Deutsche Bank
Deutsche is now Germany’s largest bank, but it was built on a dark history. The bank fired all Jewish directors when the Nazis rose to power in 1938. It then participated in the taking over of Jewish-owned businesses, and acquired a great many equitable assets that helped this company rise to power in Germany and throughout the world.
In the late 1990s, Deutsche Bank admitted to dealing in Nazi gold and apologized for this connection. However, the bank did not comment on whether officials knew at the time that some of the gold may have come from concentration camps. Deutsche Bank has more currently been accused of money laundering, and has been asked to provide information about possibly Russian-backed loans given to the POTUS.
CACI is involved in everything. This company provides business systems, communications equipment, cyber security services, intelligence services and even health services, among others. CACI was sued by 256 Iraqis in 2004 in a U.S. federal court for war crimes. The suit alleged that CACI was involved in torture and crimes against humanity including sexual assault and inhumane treatment of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. The suit further alleged that CACI was negligent in hiring and supervising its Iraqi employees. The U.S. government employs CACI to provide translation and interrogation services, which at a glance seems pretty disparate. The Court of Appeals ruled in favour of CACI and the other defendants named in the case in 2009. CACI, California Analysis Center Inc., was one of the biggest profiteers of the Iraq war.
Perhaps the most infamous name among defense contractors, Haliburton is the company where former Vice President Dick Cheney served as CEO before ascending to the White House. Halliburton got one of the biggest contracts in the Iraq war, though the company started out as an oil services and engineering company. In 2001, it got a contract to provide housing, fuel, food and logistical support for troops in the Middle East. The contract was valued at about $5 billion. Halliburton and Cheney have been accused of profiting from the war, and Halliburton has been accused of numerous offenses including torture, rape and forced labor. Halliburton, and both Dick Cheney and George W. Bush by extension, has been accused of perpetrating war crimes.
1. L3 Communications
L3 Communications is involved in electronics, aerospace and communications. The company serves many private and commercial clients, including airports around the world. But L3 is also a huge defense contractor and arms dealer. More than 80 percent of the company’s income is earned through defense contracts. In 2013, L3 paid $5.8 million to settle a case in which one of their subsidiaries was accused of being complicit in an Iraqi military prison scandal involving abuse and human rights violations. L3 provided interrogators to the U.S. military in Iraq. Photos of prisoners being abused surfaced in 2004, leading to public outrage and cries of war crimes.
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