From Dow Chemical’s manufacture of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War to the Cyclone Power Technologies man-eating battle droids of today, military contractors have inevitably faced questions about the ethical use of their products in decidedly unethical conflicts. Thanks to last week’s Wikileaks video release, it is now Boeing’s turn under the microscope.
Boeing, once mostly a manufacturer of civilian aircraft and operator of its own airlines, now gets 51% of its total revenue from military contracts, and is one of the largest 3 such contractors in the world. One of its products, the AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, was front and center in the Wikileaks video, as the helicopters mowed down some 12 civilians, two of them reporters for Reuters.
Though this is hardly a case of the helicopters malfunctioning or even being specifically designed with the express purpose of massacring civilians, the company’s insufferably smug advertisements have left it open to parody.
The extent of the fallout from the Wikileaks controversy has yet to be realized, but unlike its chief competitors in military contracting, Boeing still has a significant non-military business which could face pressure from a damaged reputation caused by incidents such as these.