Jeff Bezos earns more in two minutes than most of us earn in two years. With that kind of money, comes a great deal of power. Can we trust the richest man in the world to use that power responsibly? Could Jeff Bezos become our international supreme leader? Someone who is ruling us from space with killer drones, satellite death rays and exploding Amazon deliveries?
Let’s find out what would happen if Jeff Bezos had a private army by using his wealth and influence. We’ll be thinking about whether Mr. Bezos could afford and want an army, the tech he would use, and more. And stick around till the end, because things are about to get galactic.
The Richest Man in the World and His Private Army
Private armies are a very lucrative business. It can be found all over the world, wherever fighting or enforcement is called for. For example, in Johannesburg, South Africa, which is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. Crimes occur in such quantity that the government has been unable to keep its citizens safe, leading to the establishment of private police and military forces, funded by local citizens – sometimes forcefully – who take justice into their own hands and are accountable to no-one.
In countries undergoing extreme social turmoil or political unrest, the emergence of private defense companies is common. Private military company KBR is one such example of a military-force-for-hire, and had a net income of $442 million in 2017, with 34,000 employees around the world.
As you can see, the military-industrial complex justifies its existence through the sheer amount of money to be made. In other circumstances, governments will directly work with and fund mercenary – or the preferred term, “contractor” – companies to aid in their own internal and external military efforts.
The US government has worked with private military company Blackwater – now rebranded as Academi – since 2000. Blackwater was initially unaccountable to the US government, and after Blackwater gained notoriety in 2007 when a group of its employees was convicted of killing 14 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, company officials were found guilty of war crimes. The US government was not held accountable.
Accountability is still a legal grey area – which makes private armies a potentially useful tool for someone like future Supreme Leader Bezos, seeking to establish a regime without accountability for the immoral means of achieving their aims. Crimes can be shaken off and possibly even forgotten with a name change, as was the case with Blackwater. Uh — I mean Academi.
Background of Jeff Bezos
But before we think about what a private army funded by the richest man in the world would be like, we should find out some more about our future supreme overlord, and what he might potentially use it for.
Jeff Bezos graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and immediately began making waves in the finance industry. Since founding Amazon in 1994, Jeff has seen his company grow from a garage-based business into one of the most prominent corporations the world has ever seen, expanding from an initial catalog of books to video, music, general consumer goods and even groceries. Almost half of all online purchases made, all over the world, are through Amazon.
As a result of Amazon’s meteoric rise, Jeff Bezos is not only the wealthiest person alive with a net worth of around $130 billion, but is $56 billion richer than the second wealthiest, Bill Gates. Bezos doesn’t just have wealth at his command, he also has significant influential power. These two things would be incredibly useful should he ever build an army. For one thing, Bezos owns one of the most popular news sources in the USA, the Washington Post, which he has already been accused of using to promote his own political agenda. He also has investments and influence in other media companies as well, such as Insider Inc.
With his fingers in so many pies, it’s no wonder Bezos has been the subject of several scandals. The thought of him building an army may be worrying to some people. Why? Because of the track record some of his companies have for abusing workers’ rights.
Does Bezos Need a Private Army?
But why would Jeff Bezos want a private army? One answer can be found in Amazon’s relentless expansion, into countless markets, to a position of dominance. If people start getting in the way of this, Bezos may choose to take decisive action against his competitors. Jeff may also want to secure access to raw materials and mineral reserves in locations that could serve as a constant resource for the construction of materials used for his space-related ambitions, under his space exploration company, Blue Origin.
© News Sky
Bezos already has a $600 million deal with the CIA, providing top-level cloud services, and also provides facial recognition software to the US government for use in policing.
On top of this, Bezos has also served as an official advisor to the Pentagon’s Defence Advisory Board, so he’s no stranger to involvement in military and national affairs.
This experience has already helped him to establish a positive working relationship with governments. It would hugely benefit Jeff’s military ambitions. For Jeff to achieve his aims of universal market dominance and securing access to space-exploration materials, he would need a substantial force, either for forcing his way into countries rich in his sought-after resources, or – pursuing a Blackwater-style angle – for providing private military contractors for himself when he needs it, and other people when he doesn’t. But how much would all of this cost?
The Cost Breakdown of a Private Army
Well, since Jeff is smart, he may just buy a company that contracts out troops and dip into this pool of personnel to launch an attack of his own whenever he needs it. That way he’d still be making money from its operations the rest of the time.
A 2016 valuation placed notorious private military company Blackwater at $1 billion value. Purchasing a company of this size would be, for Bezos, comparable to the average person spending $600; not a big investment at all. For this price, Bezos would have access to a staff of 8,000 strong soldiers. Many of these people would be seasoned in the art of warfare.
This would be fine for smaller pursuits, but Bezos’ ambitions would likely be much greater. What if Bezos sold all his Amazon stocks over time to fund his military endeavor? If that was the case, he’d be around 30% poorer, considering the effects of economics on share prices and taxation. That would put his actual reserves at around $80 billion- still a substantial sum to invest into his private army.
In fact, Jeff’s unfathomable wealth would allow him to construct the largest and most powerful private army in the world, assuming people were willing to join him – but we’ll get to that later.
In the first year of business, $80 billion dollars would allow Jeff to stock up on – amongst other things – 55 M1A1 Battle Tanks, 1 Aircraft Carrier, 2 attack submarines, 10 Attack Helicopters and 15 Nighthawk Stealth Fighters.
As for manpower, the average soldier costs around $99,000 per year to train, clothe and sustain. With the $60 billion left over, Jeff could afford 600,000 soldiers, with a little left over for emergencies. You know, in case his car breaks down on the way to the store.
Possible Ways to Establish the Army
If Jeff picked the right battles, he could use this force to exploit several revenue streams. Recruitment may be difficult, especially if Bezos’ aims are lacking in moral integrity. But to combat reluctance to join, he would likely charge full-steam-ahead with an all-out propaganda effort.
Using his internet influence and the popular Washington Post, he would seek to guide public opinion into supporting his army through specifically-targeted articles and adverts, utilising information he could gather on individuals from people’s Amazon Echo Smart Speakers and their Amazon accounts.
As Jeff’s pursuits become more controversial, he may need to utilise indoctrination tactics to keep his existing soldiers and staff on his side. The promise of higher-than-average wages and employee benefits would also be handy. Of course, governments may try to intervene in Bezos’ recruitment efforts, but Jeff has been a notoriously slippery adversary for governments in the past, evading attacks from figures like Donald Trump, who accused Amazon of sales tax avoidance.
Besides, he could easily retreat on a secret island somewhere he bought before using a shell company; and fly out there to head his world-domination efforts.
Possible Countries to Establish the Military Colony
If Jeff chose to pump the entirety of his wealth into his army, Jeff would have a substantial force. However, it would be no match for the biggest military forces in the world. So, he would need to approach warfare slightly differently.
He would likely be allied with the US government, as he has a valuable relationship with his home country. His likelihood would be that, if he were to go to war with anyone, it would be a resource-rich smaller country with few close ties to powerful nations, and with a smaller military.
One reasonable potential target would be North Korea. The country spends around $10 billion a year on its military, and has few global allies. While Russia’s political alignment with the North Koreans could prove problematic, Bezos’ good relationship with the US could come in handy. America could provide back-up against a potential nuclear threat from Kim Jong Un.
Alternatively, the Democratic Republic of Congo is extremely resource-rich, a vast reserves of gold, copper, and cobalt. The country has an annual defence budget of only $93.5 million, making it a good potential target; its mineral deposits could prove highly beneficial in Bezos’ race to outer-space, for the manufacture of components and spaceship parts.
The aftermath of the Republic’s violent civil war could make the overhaul easier. A strong, decisive military action and divide-and-conquer leadership by Bezos’ army can advantage of this disarray.
Venezuela presents an equally good opportunity, with a power vacuum seemingly-imminent. Besides, it has a volatile and exploitable economic system and a huge wealth of natural resources. Jeff’s army would swamp Venezuela’s as they spend an 80th of the amount Jeff’s hypothetical army would cost for the year, with about half his amount of troops.
He could overtake leadership and establish a new government; he may even offer to head the new leadership upon coming to an economic agreement with US officials. These officials have shown an interest in the country over the past decade, perhaps even declaring themselves the president of Venezuela.
Is there an Alternative Path to Success?
There is an alternative path to success if Jeff chose to pursue a more relentless world-domination angle. He may choose to worm his way further into US and EU governments, establishing insider representatives of his interests in positions of political power. It could help them to climb the ranks over time, even changing laws to benefit Bezos.
With the influence of media channels, like the Washington Post, Jeff could turn public support in his favor. The rallying support from the masses would make it easier to recruit them into his intelligence and military services.
From here, after undermining the authority and power of worldwide governments, he could stage a well-executed coup, seizing power from the world governments.
If he established trust effectively enough, there may not even need to be bloodshed.
Exploitation of Smart Technologies
From here, the Bezos empire could become an authoritarian dictatorship. How? Easy. It would manipulate its subjects into submission with the promise of discounted Prime deals and same-day delivery.
If Jeff did decide to go down the world-domination route, he already has an advantage. Millions of people already have an Amazon Echo in their home, which alongside being a very useful surveillance device for Mr. Bezos, could also be weaponized.
With smart homes becoming increasingly popular, Bezos could easily access targets’ homes and lock the doors, or turn the central heating up to dangerous levels, or even cause lethal power surges.
On top of this, his always-listening army of household Smart Speakers could be used to gather dirt on his opponents, which could be shared with the world easily through his media networks, aiding his rise to power.
If powerful people at the top start stifling his plans in government or business, perhaps leaking more of his nudes, it’s not inconceivable that he would want revenge or use his covert digital army to blackmail them on a massive scale to get his way. If successful, he may choose to buy up land somewhere to start his resistance. Although it entirely depends on his desire to build a nation.
This would be pretty tricky, however. Jeff would unlikely be able to win a ground war against any nations who object to this. He would have a better chance of domination and success continuing down a path he has been treading for a while now: keeping the world powers on his side and taking the battle to space.
Will Space Technology be the Ultimate Weapon?
But here’s where it gets crazy. Jeff Bezos has been selling $1 billion of his Amazon stocks each year since 2016 to expand his secretive pet-project, Blue Origin. According to Mr. Bezos, the intentions of Blue Origin are to find affordable and safe ways of sending millions, and eventually trillions, of people into space. Bezos has ambitions to lead the race for Earth’s colonization of other planets in the solar system.
Blue Origin has already had a good amount of success, managing to launch rockets and use cutting-edge technology to land them safely back on Earth. Bezos may choose to use his army as security to ensure the safe travel and order of a newly-established colony, as well as defense from any potential threats in space.
Yes, you heard me correctly: the CEO of Amazon could be fighting aliens in space. And if Donald Trump’s recent talks of establishing a military Space Force are anything to take seriously, then Bezos’ private army could certainly pursue this option. With the knowledge and possession of space technology, Bezos could easily use space as a base for his military operations.
By launching satellites equipped with the latest tech, maybe even spending a little of his fortune on a few black-market nuclear warheads, Bezos could very quickly reach a position of global military dominance. Having powerful weapons in orbit of Earth would give Bezos an unrivaled military edge. He would be able to rain unstoppable terror from the heavens upon his enemies. Pretty terrifying.
Summing It Up
The space technology, combined with the presence of manipulatable Smart Speakers in millions of homes, could very quickly leave us saying “goodnight, almighty master Bezos” to our Alexas every night, under threat of execution by satellite death-ray.
But for now, I’ll stick to binging the latest series of Mr. Robot on Amazon Prime.
Do the fears of world dominance by the richest man in the world keep you up at night? Does Elon Musk terrorize your dreams? Is Mark Zuckerberg the monster under your bed? Tell me your fears of the mega-rich techno-leaders in the comments section below. Oh, and just in case: hail to thee, Almighty Bezos.