Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The US War Industry – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 10, 2021

Chapter 4, “The Tricks of the Trade”:

In order to keep the military budget elevated, sustain industry, and confine D.C. to a violent foreign policy, the public must be fed a constant stream of fear-inducing pretexts. Such pretexts, which must be carefully crafted and promoted, effectively serve as advertising to sell the public on the need for war-related production (p. 134).

By Laurence M. Vance

Review of Christian Sorensen, Understanding the War Industry (Clarity Press, 2020), xxvii + 415 pgs.

I had never heard of Christian Sorensen, author of Understanding the War Industry, before I was sent his new book for review. However, when I saw on the back cover that he was termed “the Seymour Melman of the 21st century,” I was intrigued. I first learned of Melman from Mises Institute senior fellow Tom Woods, who has written this description of him:

Seymour Melman (1917–2004). Melman was a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University. In a scholarly career that yielded a great many books and articles, he focused much of his energy on the economics of the warfare and military-oriented state. In large part, Melman’s work amounted to an extended analysis, in light of Bastiat’s insight, of the costs, not only of modern American wars, but also of the defense establishment itself.

Sorensen mentions Melman’s 1970 book Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War on the first page of his preface, and describes it thusly: “In that book, Melman analyzed how the headquarters of the U.S. Armed Forces coordinated and administered the businesses that make weapons of war” (p. ix). Sorsenson contends that “in the fifty years since Pentagon Capitalism hit the press, the playing field has changed” (p. ix). The military industrial complex (MIC) mentioned by President Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell address—which Sorensen views as “an insulated war-promoting configuration comprised of the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Armed Forces; industry, the corporations that develop and sell goods and services to the U.S. and allied government; and the U.S. Congress, which implements policies and authorizes the funding for the Pentagon”(p. x)—“has demonstrably further penetrated the institutions of U.S. government” (pp. ix-x). Sorensen sees the change from Melman’s time as this: “War corporations—the industrial part of the MIC—now hold the most power in the trifecta. The Pentagon no longer controls the U.S. war industry. Industry runs the show. Industry employs expansive, sometimes pernicious, operations in order to dominate political processes and military functions” (p. x). Sorensen goes on to quote Melman several times in the book.

All I know about Sorensen is what is stated on the book’s back cover: “Christian Sorensen is a researcher and author focused on the U.S. war industry. His academic background is in translation and international relations. A military veteran, he contributes frequently to independent media outlets.”

Like Melman, Sorensen is a man of the left, and what he considers to be capitalism is anything but. But as Woods said of Melman: “Although Melman was associated with the left, a fact that may account for libertarian neglect of his thought, his analysis of the warfare state is not only compatible with, but at times is absolutely identical to, the libertarian view, and deserves wider dissemination.” Consequently, although anything that Sorensen says about the Green New Deal or increased government intervention should be dismissed, his assault on the U.S. war industry should be embraced wholeheartedly.

Understanding the War Industry contains twelve chapters, each of which are divided into sections and concluded with scores of endnotes, many of them very detailed and informative. All of the chapter sections are indicated in the comprehensive table of contents. (The “Acronyms & Initialisms” promised in the table of contents at the end of the book is not there.) The book also contains an index, although its page number is missing in the table of contents.

See the rest here

Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] writes from central Florida. He is the author of The War on Drugs Is a War on Freedom; War, Christianity, and the State: Essays on the Follies of Christian Militarism; War, Empire, and the Military: Essays on the Follies of War and U.S. Foreign Policy; King James, His Bible, and Its Translators, and many other books. His newest books are Free Trade or Protectionism? and The Free Society.

Be seeing you

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: