Review: The Military Industrial Compex at 50

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Budget Process & Politics, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Congress (Failure, Reform), Corruption, Crime (Corporate), Crime (Government), Culture, Research, Democracy, Economics, Education (General), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Environment (Problems), Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Force Structure (Military), History, Impeachment & Treason, Intelligence (Public), Peace, Poverty, & Middle Class, Politics, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Priorities, Public Administration, Science & Politics of Science, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Strategy, Survival & Sustainment, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), True Cost & Toxicity, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution, Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized), War & Face of Battle, Water, Energy, Oil, Scarcity
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5.0 out of 5 stars America Desperately Needs More Illumination Such as This January 16, 2012

I received a review copy of this book [note to publishers: always ask first] and was glad to be offered a chance to read something as important as this. America desperately needs more illumination on the corruption in our government, and the evil done in our name without our permission but very much at our expense.

As a career veteran of the national security community–the Marine Corps and the Central Intelligence Agency–followed by seventeen years teaching 90 governments — 66 directly — how to get a grip on Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) that provides 95% of what we need to know at 2% or less of the cost of what we spend now on secret intelligence–I am well-qualified to read this book from a patriot’s point of view.

A strong national defense capability does NOT exist in the USA today. Posturing fools such as Senator Rick Santorum have no idea what they are talking about when they seek to discredit those of us who do. The infantry, four percent of the force, takes eighty percent of the casualties and receives ONE PERCENT of the Pentagon budget. Within the other 99%, half–at least–is fraud, waste, and abuse that makes America weaker, not stronger.

This book, edited by David Swanson, is a very good deal at $25. Its 368 pages include chapters from thirty other authors besides the editor, and include contributions from Ray McGovern and Karen Kwiatkowski, whose work I have admired in the past. If there were one flaw in the book, but not so serious as to lose a star, it would be its isolation from the pioneering work done by Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney, and Winslow Wheeler, with a genuflection toward John Boyd, the real pioneer of smart sufficient national security.

What is uniquely valuable about this book, something I have not seen elsewhere, is its provision of a holistic examination not just of the military-industrial process and fraudulent, wasteful, abusive bad design, bad performance, and bad cost, but of the costs that the military-industrial complex imposes on all of us and our economy and our society. This is a world-class book that should be translated into other languages to help others avoid our long-running mistakes.

Here are the blinding flashes of solid insight that stayed with me and merit the broadest possible public understanding:

01 Local communities, contrary to the propaganda, do not actually welcome military development in and around their communities.

02 Investment in the military (corporate vaporware) does NOT create jobs, and cuts to the military result in fewer jobs lost than cuts anywhere else.

03 Military conversion–including both facility and human resource redirection, is a much needed reform in America.

04 CORRUPTION is the foundation for what we call a military today–outside of the earnest good people wearing the uniform, at least half the money being spent is being spent on corporate vaporware, badly designed systems that do not work as they should and have HUGE logistics footprints [one contractor per laptop is the running joke].

05 SUPER-SHOCKING BUT NO REAL SURPRISE: the militarization of the federal budget has carried over into the Department of Homeland Security and the federalization of state and local police. US civil liberties are nearly gone because of the unconstitutional corruption attendant to out of control corrupt political leaders who have sold their souls — and our liberty and our inheritance — for coin.

06 Brainwashing and preaching of troops is not something I remember from my time in service, but according to these authors, there is a substantive internal covert action / propaganda program directed against our own troops. Apart from being unethical, it is frightening in its implications, to include the pre-identification of troops willing to kill US citizens when ordered to do so.

07 I especially like the focus by one author on what the public is not being told. I have been championing public intelligence in the public interest for some time, and it has been very heavy going against strong opposition, but I believe that Occupy, the Tea Party, Ron Paul supporters, and the young (fool me once only) as well as the old (can’t trust the two-party tyranny anymore) could make 2012 a year to remember.

08 The very negative impact of the military on the environment is something I am familiar with, especially recalling how a badly designed and installed gas station tank contaminated the drinking water of all the family housing surrounding it at Quantico. Despite lip service and well-intentioned efforts by liaison officers, the military treats the environment — and communities — as collateral damage of no real concern at all.

09 The focus on the FACT that the US is the major proliferator of weapons, including nuclear and chemical weapons (the USA supplied Saddaam Hussein with his chemical weapons–I have the photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands on delivery), and the military is what we export and what we base our foreign policy on. They do not quite fill in the equal FACT that dictators are the best pals of the US Government, that the US Government is a hypocrite quite happy to let billions perish at the mercy of those dictators–all but two of the 44 are sponsored by the US Government “in our name” and at our expense.

10 Completely new to me, and a major value in this book, is a series of chapters on how the public can take back the power. This book could not have been more timely. It should be read by all activists–Occupy, Tea Party, Ron Paul supporters, etcetera.

11 There is a strong current in this book of why deficit spending is GOOD, but only if it is used to fund peace and jobs. Jobs Not Wars. Medard Gabel, co-creator with Buckminster Fuller of the analog World Game, has calculated the cost of creating a prosperous world at peace: ONE THIRD what we spend on war every year.

One final comment: although I personally dislike digital books, the ONE real value of digital books for anyone is the ability to follow links. All of the links in all of the notes are active, and while I wish digital copies were “included” in any hard copy purchase, the reality is that in this particular book, if you are planning to read much more deeply, the digital copy works best.

Other books that complement this one:
The Pentagon Labyrinth: 10 Short Essays to Help You Through It
Defense Facts of Life: The Plans/Reality Mismatch
Wastrels of Defense: How Congress Sabotages U.S. Security
Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War
Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World’s Last Dictators by 2025
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA
A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies
Why We Fight (DVD)

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