AN INTELLIGENT SALESMAN’S GUIDE TO THE ARMAMENTS INDUSTRY
The purchasers of armaments are Governments. The success of the business, therefore, depends upon persuading Governments to buy.
No Government wishes to spend money. Taxation is unpopular. But every Government will spend money on armaments if convinced that the expenditure is necessary for national defence.
Therefore the first things an armament firm must do is to convince Governments that its articles are indispensable for this purpose.
An armament firm produces a new type of death-dealing instrument and submits it to a Government. The instrument is costly. The Government knows that no rival Power possesses it, and turns it down.
The armament firm is not discouraged. It knows that it has only to get one Government to buy the new type of death-dealer and immediately all governments will buy. Any War Minister who neglected to order the latest weapons in use would betray the sacred cause of national defence.
So the armament firm seeks out some Government which is nervous about the arms of some rival nation. “Take this new invention,” says the firm, “and you need fear your rival no longer.”
Or the firm seeks out some small nation just launching out in armaments expenditure, with a Government or ruler who will take pride in possessing the first of a new type of armament.
It does not matter how insignificant the Government is: once get the new invention on the market and no Government will dare to be without it.
But sometimes there is a difficulty. The Governments of small nations cannot afford to buy. So comes the second principle of armament selling: Governments must be lent money if necessary. That involves a close relationship with the banks.
It will be convenient, therefore, if armament directors happen to be bank directors; perhaps the armament firm will run a bank itself to facilitate the loan. The loan will be made on conditions that orders are placed with the firm.
The next necessity in the technique of armament salesmanship is the use of Press influence. The heavy sale of armaments depends upon the state of tension in international relations. Therefore public psychology must be kept nervous. This not only involves making the Press of your own country suspicious of other countries: the Press of other countries must be nervous of the intentions of your country.
Armament salesmanship therefore requires close connection with the Press. Own newspapers if you can. Some of your directors should certainly also be directors of newspapers. Don’t be too squeamish about the truth of your stories. Publicity knows no morals. Good business depends upon war scares. Foment them!
Fenner Brockway. The Bloody Traffic. London: Victor Gollancz, 1933. 28-31.