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"The Spoils of War": How Profits Rather Than Empire Define Success for the Pentagon

Andrew Cockburn’s new book is an incredible compendium of avarice and folly.

In the introduction to “The Spoils of War,” an extraordinary new book by Andrew Cockburn, he makes a straightforward assertion about the U.S. military. “War-fighting efficiency has a low priority,” he writes, “by comparison with considerations of personal and internal bureaucracies. … The military are generally not interested in war, save as a means to budget enhancement.”

This is not a popular perspective in Washington, D.C., to say the least. It’s of course legal for the New York Times and the Washington Post, or network television, to make this case. But just to be on the safe side, they never do.

Intriguingly, it’s also not a left-wing critique, exactly. Leftist analysis of the American war machine generally credits it with a coherent plan to rule the world and an implacable lust for the violence needed to make it happen. “If you’re a dove, you think the whole thing’s really rotten,” Cockburn said in a recent appearance on Intercepted. However, “a lot of my good sources, and indeed friends, whose political views in other areas might make your hair stand on end” despise the military’s profligate behavior for their own reasons.