A war profiteer is any person or organization that improperly profits from warfare or by selling weapons and other goods to parties at war. The term has strong negative connotations. General profiteering may also occur in peace time.
Making unreasonable profits from war is widely considered unethical and is deeply unpopular, so attempts to prohibit excessive war profiteering, such as the imposition of an excess profits tax, receive much political support in wartime. Defining 'excessive' accurately is difficult, however, and such legislation frequently allows some instances of profiteering to go unchecked while reducing the income of others' war-related business to loss-making levels.
The Center for Public Integrity has reported that US Senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum, are making millions of dollars from Iraq and Afghanistan contracts through his company, Perini Feinstein voted for the resolution giving President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
Indicted defense contractor Brent Wilkes was ecstatic when hearing that the United States was going to go to war with Iraq. “He and some of his top executives were really gung-ho about the war,” said a former employee. “Brent said this would create new opportunities for the company. He was really excited about doing business in the Middle East.”
The War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007 intended to create criminal penalties for war profiteers and others who exploit taxpayer-funded efforts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world. War profiteering cases are often brought under the Civil False Claims Act, which was enacted in 1863 to combat war profiteering during the Civil War.
The image of the 'businessman profiteer' carries the implication of influence and power used to actively cause wars for personal gain, rather than merely passively profit from them. In the aftermath of World War I, such profiteers were widely asserted to have existed by both the Left, and (fused with anti-Semitism) by the Right.
The surname of the character 'Daddy Warbucks' in Little Orphan Annie carries an obvious implication. This character is interesting for being an example of the stereotype of a war profiteer applied to a 'good guy'.
The Tintin adventure The Broken Ear features an arms dealer called Basil Bazarov who sells arms to both sides in a war. He is a recognisable example of this 'type', and specifically based on Basil Zaharoff.
The character of Joe Walker in the sitcom Dad's Army is an example of the second stereotype of a war profiteer while the character Rick Pym in the novel A Perfect Spy is a more psychologically complex example.
REP. JOHN CONYERS JR. HOLDS A MARKUP OF H.R. 400, THE WAR PROFITEERING PREVENTION ACT OF 2007; H.R. 2102, THE FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION ACT OF 2007; H.R. 3013, THE ATTORNEY-CLIENT PRIVILEGE PROTECTION ACT OF 2007; H.R. 2740, THE MEJA EXPANSION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2007; H.R. 1119, THE PURPLE HEART FAMILY EQUITY ACT OF 2007; AND H.R. 1071, THE SEPTEMBER 11 FAMILY HUMANITARIAN RELIEF AND PATRIOTISM ACT
Aug 02, 2007; HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HOLDS A MARKUP OF H.R. 400, THE WAR PROFITEERING PREVENTION ACT OF 2007; H.R. 2102, THE FREE FLOW OF...