By Jim Miles
(Understanding the War Industry. Christian Sorensen. Clarity Press, Atlanta, Georgia. 2020.)
For readers wondering about the state of the US economy, this work by Christian Sorensen provides a small encyclopedic compendium of information relating the war industry to the overall U.S. economy and U.S. foreign and domestic policies in many spheres. He states his main ideas clearly and plainly and then provides a huge amount of supporting data, which by his own admission is still just a small part of the whole. The data is fully supported by extensive footnotes which serve as a reference as well as more data to support the main idea.
Power, Greed, and fear.
Put as simply as possible Understanding the War Industry is all about corporations, profit, greed, and globalization (for profit and greed):
“….the War Department [Department of Defense] as a whole is fraudulent, wasteful, abusive – and huge. No measure or internal mechanism can address it. Corporate executives know – intuitively or consciously – that the War Department is a slush fund for corporate greed. They also know they run the show.”
Running the show includes globalization:
“Globalization is the vast project of which Western-based capital forces open markets abroad, demands free flow of capital (not humans), uses cheap labour around the world, and exploits natural resources on or beneath other people’s land. Globalization homogenizes formerly diverse cultures via the imposition of monolithic, corporate goods and services, and their cultural baggage.”
While he ties together all the industries, corporations, politicians, universities involved with the War Department, Sorensen repeats several themes. The largest is simply money and power and how it insinuates itself into every aspect of US and global affairs. Neoliberal austerity is part of the package, having large influence in particular with western aligned (by force or by nature) countries.
Corporate power, domestic and foreign, employs far more people in logistics, supply, information, and all other aspects of war than the Pentagon and Armed services supply as actual combatants. Hired mercenaries and hired corporate personnel make up the largest part of the military empire.
Fear is another theme expressed throughout the book. It is used mainly as a defining factor for the ‘other’ – the chosen ones who are needed, required, as enemies in order to keep the War Department arguing that it needs more and more money. “Great power competition is marvelous from a corporate perspective” – fully seen with current events around China, Russia, Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Libya and on.
Israel and its particular aspect of Zionism receives mention throughout the book. Its “field-tested” equipment for surveillance, crowd control, and belligerent attack are displayed at trade shows and sold around the world, always with its special relationship with the US at the forefront.
“The U.S. War Industry leadership loves Apartheid Israel….U.S. war corporations do not care about innocents dying. Palestinian lives, Syrian lives, Lebanese lives, Egyptian lives and Arab life in general – the U.S. War Industry couldn’t care less. When war is profit, death ensures a healthy bottom line. The aggressive military posture inherent in Zionism is a commercial asset….Israel has killed Arabs quite effectively with a variety of aircraft and weaponry purchased from U.S. corporations.”
So what to do? “The underlying profiteering, to which we draw attention throughout this book, must be addressed if any real change or progress is to be made.” At the end of the book Sorensen outlines many valuable and good actions that can be used to counter the influence of the War Department. Unfortunately from news about the current state of the economy and current state of political actions, the actions outlined do not serve to end the fundamental position of the power of the US$ to sway and persuade corporations and individuals that military solutions are not the ultimate solutions to all problems.
Within that, however, are recent events concerning the economic outlook of the US$. The US economy is based on the value of the US$ being the global reserve currency, and much of its power is the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and its petrodollar recycling schemes: oil is to be priced in dollars, those dollars are then used to buy U.S.military equipment.
Covid-19 did not cause the current economic downturn, but it certainly served as a catalyst to speed the process up immensely. The U.S. economy has never fully recovered from the 2008-09 economic downturn when the Federal Bank (a private bank despite the name) pumped trillions of dollars into banks and other corporations to keep them from going bankrupt.
Starting in mid-2019, the Fed again had to pump billions of dollars into the banking system in order to keep it working, to keep cash flowing. Covid-19 and the subsequent shutdown of large portions of the economy (domestic consumption being 70% of that) required pumping 3-4 trillion dollars into the system to keep it afloat – the vast majority of which went to the top 1 percenters while a few small dollops escaped to the workers. To support the economy, the Fed will have to continue pumping trillions into balancing the huge debts accumulated within the economy.
In short, ‘what to do’ is wait until the US$ crashes through hyperinflation and loses its value and thus its power. That may well be a long process, but all fiat currencies in history have eventually returned to their true value of nothing.
Russia and China are already well on the way to establishing an economy not using the US$, trading in local currencies, establishing their own system of credit, and extending those particulars to other interested global partners. The real threat to the dollar remains internal to western corporate functioning as the huge debt demands more and more dollars be created at the stroke of a keyboard/computer.
When the US$ becomes hyperinflated, it loses its value, and once it loses its value, it precludes many of the foreign influencing aspects of the War Department – supplies, armaments, bribes, corruption, lucrative employment et al. Admittedly the US could undergo a reset, stopping the use of the current dollar and reissuing something new. That would be good for the local in house warmongers, but at that point, a new US dollar would be worthless to the rest of the world.
The use of computers in all their aspects from simple communication by e-mail to encryption, artificial intelligence, remote intelligence, sensors, surveillance equipment, banking transactions and on is becoming more and more important to the War Department.
One of the aspects mentioned by Sorensen is the intense drive to have a single large consolidated network and one solid set of data such that any one department can contact and give or receive information from another. Naturally, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and other communication-oriented companies and academics are promoting this technology.
The main drawback is the very solution they are promoting. There is an “underlying weakness of it all: “The more we become connected, the more we are vulnerable.” It is another wait and see solution – we can only hope that in the event of tensions between the global powers accelerating and exploding into actual combat, someone, somewhere, has the ability to shut all the electronic communications down and effectively stop the fighting.
As stated by Vladimir Balybine – director of the research center on electronic warfare and the evaluation of so-called “visibility reduction” techniques attached to the Russian Air Force Academy, “The more a radio-electronic system is complex, the easier it is to disable it through the use of electronic warfare.” [voltairenet.org].
The immense size and spread of the War Department covers all aspects of domestic and foreign policy in the U.S. The revolving door actions between the military, corporations, and the political establishment maintain the direction and purpose, the power and the greed, and the overall control of the nation. It is involved directly or indirectly in every aspect of the U.S. economy and until its profiteering motives are stopped, real progress towards a peaceful cooperative global environment will be impossible.
Christian Sorensen’s book, Understanding the War Industry is one large step in the right direction. It is highly informative, well researched, and extensive in its knowledge of the military-industrial-congressional networks. Educating the public about the extent of the MIC has been done before – this book is the best and most up to date, a worthy addition to the anti-war library and knowledge set.
– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews to Palestine Chronicles. His interest in this topic stems originally from an environmental perspective, which encompasses the militarization and economic subjugation of the global community and its commodification by corporate governance and by the American government.