Obama Approves Arms Package for Syria

If there's one thing that spurs defense companies' profits, it's war. And by all accounts, the civil war in Syria is horrific. More than 100,000 people have been killed, 1.8 million have fled, and 4.25 million are displaced. Further, on Thursday, the leader of Syria's Western-backed opposition group told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry that if the United States doesn't supply the rebels with promised weapons, President Bashar al-Assad's regime would win.  

Assad is known for his human-rights violations, corruption, and disdain for the U.S., but what pushed the Obama administration into promising weapons to Syrian rebels was "conclusive evidence" that Assad's regime used chemical weapons against opposition forces. However, the promise for weapons was made in June, and only recently was a "light armament" package approved. And now there is growing opposition to the United States' involvement in Syria. So, what does this mean for defense companies?

Benefiting from a state of chaos
War is an unfortunate fact of human existence. Some are just, others are not; but regardless, defense contractors benefit from this state of chaos. In fact, war is out-and-out lucrative to defense companies' bottom line.

For example, when North Korea decided to go on its missile-launching venture, South Korea responded by spending $1.6 billion on Boeing's (NYSE: BA  ) attack helicopters, while the U.S. found it needed to beef up missile defense. Those decisions directly benefited Lockheed Martin's (NYSE: LMT  ) Aegis Missile defense system and will probably end up benefiting Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC  ) , the prime contractor on the Missile Defense Agency's Joint National Integration Center -- a simulating and war-gaming center -- as well as Boeing's ground-based interceptors, and Raytheon's (NYSE: RTN  ) SM-3, a defense weapon used to destroy incoming ballistic missiles.  

The war in Syria presents similar lucrative opportunities for defense contractors. But it's not defense contractors that make the decision on whether to supply arms. In this case, the decision lies with the president.

To arm, or not to arm, Syria
The problem with arming Syrian rebels is that there's a possibility that such arms could end up in the hands of al-Qaeda-backed groups and other terrorist organizations. One example from last year is the Obama administration's decision to arm Libyan rebels from Qatar. Evidence emerged that Qatar was giving some of those weapons to Islamic militants. Obviously, the decision to arm Libyan rebels didn't turn out as planned. Consequently, the Obama administration, while still approving a Syrian rebel arms package, is approaching this decision with more caution. 

There are a number of senators on both sides of the aisle that have serious concerns about arming Syrian rebels. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), said: "The president's unilateral decision to arm Syrian rebels is incredibly disturbing, considering what little we know about whom we are arming. Engaging in yet another conflict in the Middle East with no vote or Congressional oversight compounds the severity of this situation." Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), said: "I'm deeply skeptical about plans for military intervention in Syria, given the dangerously fractured state of the opposition, and the very real risk of American weapons and money falling into the hands of the same terrorist organizations we're already fighting around the world."

What to watch for
So far, the Obama administration has declined to specify what arms the U.S. will send to Syria. But the White House has described a recently approved arms package as "mostly light weapons," while the rebels have stated their need for anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. The good news is Ahmed al-Jarba, the coalition's newly elected president, has publicly rejected an alliance with jihadists and repeatedly stressed his desire to have Syria be a pluralistic democracy. Still, on Thursday, Kerry stated that "there is no military solution" to Syria's civil war and said the only way forward is through political negotiations.  

The newly approved arms package seems to indicate that the U.S. will arm Syrian rebels, but given that the decision is political, a lot could happen between now and delivery. Regardless, this is another example of why defense companies are here to stay. There will always be dictators and corrupt leaders threatening the safety of their, and other nation's, people. Consequently, there will always be a need for weapons, and their makers. As such, defense contractors make a great long-term investment.

Boeing is the biggest defense contractor in the world, and it could make a fantastic long-term investment, considering humans' war-like nature. However, there are things to consider before you invest your hard earned money.  A recent Motley Fool report, "3 Strong Buys for a Global Economic Recovery," outlines three companies, including Boeing, that could take off when the global economy gains steam. Click here to read the full report!


Read/Post Comments (45) | Recommend This Article (13)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:23 AM, ghelmz21 wrote:

    You guys in the military in Afghanistan be advised your President is arming the militant Muslims in Syria who are his friends but not yours!

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:37 AM, Toni1942 wrote:

    How many more people will die before Obama sends one gun? looks like one more speach that he keeps making while the good guys keep dieing and no help gets to them.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:39 AM, vespacian wrote:

    Israel is bombing the Syrian government forces.

    It supports the al-Quaida rebels. Assad, like Saddam, has allowed Christians the freedom to live their lives under secular law, not Sharia law.

    We should support secular leaders in the Islamic world. Israel wants chaos amongst the Muslims.

    America should bring our military home from the Middle East. Nobody has noted that neocons generally oppose the Keystone pipeline and other

    practical ways for America to achieve energy self-sufficency. The Zionist lobby wants us tied down in the Middle East forever. That is not in the best interests of America. So, which is more important, Social Security and the American economy or blank check support for our non-ally Israel? Time to choose.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:50 AM, jacko4golf wrote:

    STUPID OBAMA AND JOHN MC CAIN WANT WARS... THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT 30 MILLION ILLEGALS HERE IN USA, Don,t give a dam about USA CITIZENS. Americans don,t want any more wars especially in Middle East which can,t be won / just lifes and spend trillions of dollars. but cut benefits for seniors, 50 million poor living below proverty standards in USA..

    Kerry needs to shut his big mouth and leave his check book home.

    20 billion to Israel, 20 Billion to Syria, 1.2 trillion to Egypt brother hood, and tanks and jets to them.

    Where are the transportation jobs.

    5 bills passed in senate / sent to boehner and he put them in his desk.

    500,000 construction jobs on bridges 7,000 broken bridges and roads.

    jobs e-varifyed no illegals wanted.

    Enforce the federal laws show me your papers, arrest and deport same day no jail terms... Put troops to work for ICE ROAD BLOCKS IN EVERY CITY AND STATE CHECKING IDs.

    WHites, Blacks, browns so they can,t say being picked on... broke 2 laws Entry and Fake IDs...

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:52 AM, robruff wrote:

    Floors me that he is so willing to arm other countries, but is so quick to find ways to disarm ours.

    His hypocracy knows no bounds.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:57 AM, SLTom992 wrote:

    More money that doesn't exist is being spent on something that almost none of the American public believes in and in fact any intelligent person would be completely against.

    Why is our government arming al Qaeda?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:00 AM, munichtexan wrote:

    Its simple enough to understand. Reduce our use of oil through effective Public transportation where routes and schedules are posted at all bus, tram and train stations. Electronic schedules are at main stations. Use electric vehicles combined with your own solar power thus reducing income for oil companies who continue to promote these wars when the power in charge of a country is no longer making those companies money.

    We have spent enough blood in protecting oil interests in the Middle East. The technology and economics are here today to switch to solar power, electric vehicles and public transportation. Its time to do it. This will create real jobs here in the USA employing thousands of people doing solar installs, saving people money on transportation which then allows them money to spend on other items and reducing our overall oil dependence.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:08 AM, amvet wrote:

    The CIA has been arming and training the anti-government forces for years. We have spent a lot of borrowed money to destroy Syria and kill Syrians.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:15 AM, beijingyank wrote:

    Those hits just keep coming from the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

    These endless wars are going to make America weak.

    Why did he have to go to Africa and spend over $100 million to see the jungle when he could have done it on the cheap by going to Detroit.

    $15 billion a year for Israel when we have Detroit and many other cities to follow?

    In Obama they trusted. Now they are busted.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:17 AM, nismo747 wrote:

    while china beef up their military capability, Our government is busy doling out our tax money.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:21 AM, mr091468 wrote:

    SECEDE. This broken country is over. The reason planes are flown into our buildings and killing our citizens is that the DC prostitutes, including Huesinne obama continue to march our troops ILLEGALLY down the streets of the middle east. John MCSHAME of Arizona should be impeached. Never will happen. Whores protect whores. A good day to my fellow subjects.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:30 AM, PapaMikey wrote:

    By sending weapons to Syrian rebels (Al Qaida)would be to arm our enemies. This is High Treason, which our current administration is already guilty of. No matter which country our dear president supports, total disaster follows, whether it be Libya, Egypt, and even here in our own country. Coincidence?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:39 AM, Idiot2014 wrote:

    The US shouldn't get involve. Didn't they learn any lessons from the Vietnam war. The middle east never at peace for thousand of years. Arming these people are dangerous because evenually they will use these weapon on the US. Let them solve their own problems else. We need to solve the problems at home and not wasting tax payer money.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:56 AM, scotttu wrote:

    Meanwhile 100,000 people took a 20% pay cut, aka furlough...........

    IRS Got 70 mil in bonuses.

    And theseweapons are going to terrorists...aka AlQuada and the muslim brotherhood...

    Nice.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:56 AM, spoonfedbrain wrote:

    The Jackals have been very very busy. And very naughty! The time for them all is coming to an end. For those who send them out and those who carry out for the profit of those who wish us dead or enslaved.

    More LOVE+More AWARE=No WAR

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:00 AM, fred525252 wrote:

    It's amazing, Mr Obama can approve the arms deal and yet let Government Employee's lose part of their pay because we don't have enough money to pay them. I know single one income mom's who only make $44,000/yr and will loose almost $600/month due to the furlough. WOW how he he really did stand on his campaign of "Change" it's also amazing how they waited until AFTER the election to bring all of this up! Ya screwed again by government, the one's we voted for. I guess we do have a Cast system, if your not one of them then you are Nothing to them.....

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:02 AM, Feihu wrote:

    Arming the same people who we are fighting in Afghanistan and the same ones who have just made a mess out of Egypt and Libya is not only pure political folly but and incredible waste of the taxpayers' money. This will come back to bite us just like the US government selling arms to the Mexican cartels. I didn't think we would ever have another administration as insane as the Bush administration but I guess I was wrong on that. Arab spring? Yes they are going to "spring at" us.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:03 AM, Littleeccy wrote:

    More arms for death and destruction, well done Obama.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:26 AM, Mark1946 wrote:

    Wait a minute, I thought one of Obama's campaign promises was to scale down the wars in the middle east...Giving American Taxpayer's money and weapons to any of those rag-land countries is only feeding the fire...Besides, I thought our Country is broke...where are these dollars coming from?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:43 AM, Funquang wrote:

    The last time the U.S.A. provided weapons to Al-CIAda, who were called "Freedom Fighters" by the snitch and pedophile rapist (when president of the Film Actors Guild), multi-adulterous/engaged in pre-martial sex (to marry a 3 month pregnant Nancy), Treason fomenting (Iran Contra weapons for cocaine scandal), War Criminal (supporting Death Squads in El Salvador and Guatemala), wife and political party swapping Ronald Reagan.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:46 AM, CharlieTX wrote:

    Yet another instance showing O'Bummer's lack of understanding on the world stage. Giving arms to the Taliban who, incidentally, are not our friends despite what O'Bumer said, is NOT a good move.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:47 AM, Atlacatl wrote:

    Let me get this straight: We are signing a Arm package with Syria, but the government of Syria, but the rebels. How about playing the evil advocate like this: Could Russia, or North Korea, or Iran have an arm deal with let's say rebels here in USA, like the skin heads, KKK, or whatever, or rebel groups in Europe ? Governments are governments we like them or dislike them, they are to be honored that is the World Order, just as we expect ours to be honored. Who are we to decide who can govern, or who can not ? How can an American, or a British decide for the Syrians, or the Afghans, or whatever. I see something wrong with this picture !

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:56 AM, jonny665 wrote:

    Can let city's go bankrupt and people go hungry but what's a day without killing people?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 12:03 PM, crossle27 wrote:

    Sorry Toni1942, but what good guys? You have a murderer on the government side, and barry's al-queda buddies on the other, so I don't see any good guys here.

    Reagan was villified for involving himself in the Contra affair, and the same for Bush with his supposed collaborations. So where is the outrage over this muslim fraud in OUR white house supplying arms and $$ to a terrorist organization that is our enemy?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 12:09 PM, crossle27 wrote:

    funguang, you are one weird person. Your totally bizarre and made up rant about President Reagan shows your close minded liberal hate for anything American or conservative.

    You want to whine about a leader, try the adulterous and conniving JFK, or slick Willy and his disgusting behavior both as a husband and a politico.

    None of what you raged about is true, but that doesn't stop liars like you from spouting off whenever you see a chance to do so. Stick to the subject and understand that this musslim fraud is arming his terrorist pals with our arms and our $$ you fool.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 12:19 PM, 51jordan wrote:

    obama wants to start world war 3

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 1:18 PM, LeoFoss wrote:

    Katie Spence says "War is an unfortunate fact of human existence. Some are just..."

    "Just" and "unjust" are like beauty: they are in the mind of the beholder.

    In my mind, she has already started down the wrong road if she believes that you can label any war as "just" or "unjust" without defining those words.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 1:54 PM, ChrisMcPhail wrote:

    - Obama has aided America’s enemies, violating his oath, by sending funds to insurgents in Syria who are being commanded by Al-Qaeda terrorists.

    - He has violated federal law by overseeing a cover-up surrounding Operation Fast and Furious, the transfer of guns to Mexican drug cartels direct from the federal government.

    - He has lied to the American people by overseeing a cover-up of the Benghazi attack which directly led to the deaths of four American citizens. The cover-up has been called “Obama’s Watergate,” yet four months after the incident, no one in the administration has been held accountable.

    - He has brazenly undermined the power of Congress by insisting his authority came from the United Nations Security Council prior to the attack on Libya and that Congressional approval was not necessary. “I don’t even have to get to the Constitutional question,” said Obama. This is an act that “constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution,” according to Congressman Walter Jones.

    - He has flagrantly violated article 1, section 9, clause 8 of the Constitution by accepting rotating status as chairman of the United Nations Security Council. The clause states, “No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States; and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall without consent of Congress accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”

    - He has ignored Congressional rejection of the cybersecurity bill and instead indicated he will pursue an unconstitutional executive order.

    - He has signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act which includes provisions that permit the abduction and military detention without trial of U.S. citizens, violating Habeas Corpus. Despite Obama claiming he would not use the provisions to incarcerate U.S. citizens, it was his administration that specifically demanded these powers be included in the final NDAA bill.

    - He has enacted universal health care mandates that force Americans to buy health insurance, a clear violation of the Constitution in exceeding congressional power to regulate interstate commerce. Obama has also handed out preferential waivers to corporations friendly to his administration.

    - He has declared war on America’s coal industry by promising to bankrupt any company that attempts to build a new coal plant while using unconstitutional EPA regulations to strangle competition, ensuring Americans see their energy costs rise year after year.

    - He has violated the Constitution’s Takings and Due Process Clauses when he bullied the secured creditors of automaker Chrysler into accepting 30 cents on the dollar while politically connected labor unions and preferential others received better deals.

    - He has violated Article II of the Constitution by using signing statements as part of his executive usurpation of power.

    For these, and other offenses which constitute high crimes and misdemeanors, including perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming and refusal to obey a lawful order, we call for the immediate impeachment of Barack H. Obama.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 1:54 PM, KUBLOTNIK wrote:

    i love reading comments! 1. isreal is not the problem. 2. oil is not the problem. 3. getting involved in a fight between two denominations of islam is our problem. yes people are dying,and it's sad. but arming al qaeda and the muslim brotherhood is not the way to solve this.the "arab spring " was a lie foisted on us by the liberal press,who lives in their own little new york/washington dream world. we should not send any weapons to the syrian rebels .period.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 1:58 PM, Paulson545 wrote:

    What would Old Abe have said in 1861 if France decided to Arm the Confederacy ? He probably would have said it's none of France's F ing business it's a Civil War. 600,000 Americans died in our Civil War. So way do we feel like we have to be the world's policemen ?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 2:25 PM, dixiedog44 wrote:

    Go, Go, Obummer - Another gun-running opportunity! Get your franchise up and running before your administration ends or you are impeached (whichever comes first) Man, politics is fun - grin and lie into the cameras and microphones, send your scumbag affiliates like Holder, H. Clinton, Lurch Kerry, the entire IRS and FBI, and your doofus V.P. Stooge Curley Joe Biden to do your dirty work while you play golf and take multi-million dollar vacations to Africa. Who cares if they pizz of the Pope, the leaders of Israel and England? Suck up to the Muslim nations where your next opportunities lie! LIFE IS GOOD!

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 2:54 PM, brad1breather wrote:

    geee, you would think what is good for America's enemies would be be good for America too but no "yo-momma" wants you give up your guns, while arming those who hate Americans.

    i guess that tells you where "yo-momma" stands doesn't it?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 5:06 PM, Mustafa08 wrote:

    Defense contractors have always controlled the politicians. They contribute enough money to the politicians campaigns. Whenever those large corporations, want to make more money, all they have to do is call the politicians they have in their pockets, and ordered them to start a war somewhere.

    .

    The politicians then start telling us that our freedom is in jeopardy, and we all respond like sheep, giving them carte blanche to attack a foreign country and take their natural resources.

    .

    It works every time.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 7:48 PM, asalon wrote:

    we need another political party 815 million for those evil looks libya no body have control that country after gadafi mohammad gaddafi we need that 815 million over here to by food what a bout heir debt ceiling

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 8:16 PM, Jarhead44 wrote:

    We need a fresh, new Government, including all branches and the Supreme Court in order to change the way things are headed. We will be next on the news as those who failed and I do not see the American People as failures. We are still here because we do not give up and we fight for what is right for the many, not what is right for the few.

    These existing politicians, for the most part, are only figure heads, most attorney's will law firms, receiving benefits that are too good for the people they represent and then they keep sending foreign aide when we are broke. Also, why send money to rebels whom we can't trust?

    Get the heck out of countries that do not want us there anyway and leave them to their own problems.

    We'll negotiate with the winners, if there are any left.

    We're next if we don't do something to change the direction of the "winds of changes."

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 8:19 PM, smokenjoe42 wrote:

    Instead of arming Syrian rebels,please Arm the law abiding citizence of Chicago.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 8:30 PM, roger142 wrote:

    In the 1970's we backed Iran, but that didn't work out. So in the 1980's we armed Iran's enemy, Iraq. That didn't work out so well. We also gave the Taliban and Al Qaida weapons including stinger missiles in Afghanistan because we didn't like the USSR. That didn't work out so well.

    Does any body else see a pattern here?

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 9:28 PM, rizqiyian wrote:

    doesn't that make America a terrorist country, when Iran supplies weapons to Hasbullah they are called Terrorist ,that make America look hypocritical, wouldn't you think !

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 10:50 PM, bc3b wrote:

    Obama is doing so because he supports radical Islam. McCain loves war and Lucy Graham does whatever McCain tells him.

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:11 PM, VRSEFgold wrote:

    Hahahaha! Schadenfreude Ovomit and all of his Muslim Brotherhood!

  • Report this Comment On July 27, 2013, at 11:30 PM, gogd wrote:

    way to give arms to the people who would like to kill US soldiers. Our country doesn't care about them dying though. Selling weapons is profitable. No wonder the rest of the world doesn't like us. We give them guns to kill each other.

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2013, at 8:32 AM, EdHamox wrote:

    ''Is the President going to do a background check on the Syrian rebels before providing them weapons''? ~ Sen. Ted Cruz ~

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2013, at 9:15 AM, Dadw5boys wrote:

    The President has not sent any arms and they have been fighting how long ? McCain actually went ovber there and came back saying to send arms ! But none have gone yet.

    So they push the President on and on while he delays and lets them fight it out with help from anyone besides the USA.

    Now they will blame the President. Right ?

  • Report this Comment On July 28, 2013, at 12:16 PM, Peacefull1 wrote:

    The famous Nobel Peace Prize winner will certainly help to kill more Syrians, particularly Christians to eliminate them completely from Middle East. May be he hopes getting another Nobel Peace price award. Today killing of human beings or consumming them is highly appreciated, particularly in US

  • Report this Comment On July 29, 2013, at 3:07 AM, EquusPallidus44 wrote:

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. We can kill the al-Qaeda later after they have done there job in Syria.

Add your comment.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2562729, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/16/2014 1:47:57 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement