How Would You Feel About Profiting from War?

camelbak.jpgNow here’s something interesting to think about over the new year: What to do when your company is offered a lot of money to sell to the US Military in the middle of a highly controversial war. It’s not an easy question, and I for one, see valid arguments both for and against entering into a military contract. Some people are rightly disgusted by the idea, and others see it as a normal business transaction that will keep troops well equiped and less likely to get injured.
Some companies are caught in the middle due not only to their own principals but also due to the constituency of their customers. Outdoor equipment companies, for example, sell a lot of products to the so called “LOHAS” market – folks who enjoy things like camping and outdoor recreation, and are, generally speaking, outspoken against war in general and the situation in Iraq in particular. Those same companies, in many cases, happen to make prodects that are very useful to soldiers such as excellent boots, hydration systems, sunglasses, and backpacks. Hence the dilemma.
Brands such as Oakley, The North Face, Camelbak and Arc’Tryx are among them, as reported on the Get Outdoors blog and in USA Today.
Although some see a bit of irony in this, I would be surprised to see mass outcry against, say, Camelbak. For one thing, supplying troops with something that’s going to help them survive is hard to see as immoral. It’s not like they’re manufacturing land mines. The other side of the coin is, of course, the idea that dependance on military contracts encourages companies to actually see a profit motive in continuing warefare – and that’s a problem. What do you think?

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.