From the fearsome arquebuse of the Middle Ages to the modern jets carrying atomic weapons, the arms industry provided governments with the means to wage war. Without the arms industry Lincoln would have been unable to arm 2 million men to subdue the South, and with his war came the scandals of enormous commissions paid to men who merely obtained contracts for arms and munitions. The Northern government became a source of easy money for arms merchants selling $14.50 pistols at $25, and $117 for diseased horses worth no more than $60. Dupont was a reliable Northerner who refused to sell his gunpowder to the South for political reasons, thus helping ensure the subjugation of those Americans. Perhaps if Dupont had refused to produce powder for Lincoln’s armies for use against fellow Americans . . .
Merchants of War
“Who – to be specific – has the power to declare war? All constitutions of the world (except the Spanish) vest the war-making power in the government or in the representatives of the people. They further grant the power to conscript man-power to carry on such conflicts. Why is there no ethical revolt against these constitutions?
Governments also harbor and foster forces like nationalism and chauvinism, economic rivalry and exploiting capitalism, territorial imperialism and militarism. Which is the most potent for war, these elements or the arms industry? The arms industry is undeniably a menace to peace, but it is an industry to which our present civilization clings and for which it is responsible.
It is an evidence of the superficiality of many peace advocates that they should denounce the arms industry and accept the present state of civilization which fosters it. Governments today  spend approximately four and a half billion dollars every year to maintain their war machines. This colossal sum is voted every year by representatives of the people.
There are, of course, some protests . . . but by and large it is believed that “national security” demands these huge appropriations. The root of the trouble, therefore, goes far deeper than the arms industry. It lies in the prevailing temper of peoples toward nationalism, militarism and war, in the civilization which forms this temper and prevents drastic or radical change. Only when this underlying basis of the war system is altered, will war and its concomitant, the arms industry, pass out of existence.
The fact is that the armament maker is the right-hand man of all war and navy departments, and, as such, he is a supremely important political figure. His sales to the home government are political acts, as much as, perhaps even more so, the tax collector. His international trade is an act of international politics . . . [and his] international sale of arms, even in wartime, is merely business.
The world at present apparently wants both the war system and peace; it believes that “national safety” lies in preparedness, and it denounces the arms industry. This is not merely confused thinking, but a striking reflection of the contradictory forces at work in our social and political life.
Thus it happens that so-called friends of peace frequently uphold the institutions of armies and navies to preserve “national security,” support “defensive wars,” and advocate military training in colleges.
Out of this background of conflicting forces the arms maker has risen and grown powerful, until today he is one of the most dangerous factors in the world – a hindrance to peace, a promoter of war. He has reached this position not through any deliberate planning of his own, but simply as a result of the historic forces of the nineteenth century. Granting the nineteenth century [was one of] amazing development of science and invention . . . the modern armament maker with all his evils was inevitable.”
(Merchants of Death, H.C. Engelbrecht & F.C. Hanighen, Dodd, Mead & Company, 1934, excerpts pp. 7-10)