Trump’s latest move is brazen. But the world can at least now prepare for the horrors ahead

Trump defence conflict of interest
Tracy Keeling

Donald Trump is giving a top boss at defence manufacturer Boeing his dream job at the White House. And though it is a brazen move, at least we can now prepare for the horrors ahead.

Number Two

On 16 March, the White House announced that Trump wants senior vice president of Supply Chain and Operations at Boeing, Patrick M. Shanahan, to be his Deputy Secretary of Defense. People commonly refer to the role as the Pentagon’s No. 2.

Coincidentally, Shanahan works at the second largest defence contractor in the world. Boeing comes second only to Lockheed Martin. In 2015, the corporation raked in $30,388m in defence revenue. That’s over 30% of the total revenue that year for the aerospace and defence giant.

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Prior to his current role at Boeing, Shanahan was the vice president and general manager of Boeing Missile Defense Systems, according to the White House.

A dog in the fight

Like all presidents, Trump’s administration picks suggest what direction his government may take. And Trump’s have drawn much criticism. One example is his pick for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of oil giant Exxon Mobil. Those who believe in climate change are understandably upset at such a conflict of interest. A bad omen for our planet.

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But Shanahan’s appointment is equally alarming. For those who want an end to aggressive US foreign policy. Or for those who hoped Trump would stick to his campaign promises.

After all, when Trump compared his foreign policy plan to that of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the presidential race, he said:

Unlike my opponent, my foreign policy will emphasize diplomacy, not destruction

Outlook: good for Boeing

Yet since his election win, Trump and his appointees have significantly raised tensions with both Iran and China. And although Trump has called the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan a “mess”, his generals and fellow Republican politicians are currently pressing the Senate to repeat the same mistakes. Meanwhile, Trump is following in Barack Obama’s footsteps with military raids in Yemen. Raids and military action that, in the case of both presidents, have killed innocent children. And Trump’s initial dealings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu show there is very little chance he will help bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict either.

Now, a war-profiteer will advise Trump on, well, war. And they will decide what wars should be waged.

A US government that prioritises arms sales is not, of course, unusual. Obama’s administration sold more weapons than any other since WWII. But what’s unusual now is that the priority is so obvious. And because it is, we can spot the conflict of interest a mile off.

That should strengthen anti-war sentiment and actions. Because forewarned is forearmed.

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Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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