In the last decades, America has gone to war as supposed defenders of democracy. The War on Terror was waged to protect the west from the dangers of Islamists. US Solders are stationed in more than 800 locations across the world to act as the righteous arbiters of the rule of law. In The Spoils of War Andrew Cockburn brilliantly dissects the intentions behind Washington’s martial appetites.
The American war machine can only be understood in terms of the “private passions” and “interests” of those who control it—principally a passionate interest in money. Thus, as he witheringly reports, Washington expanded NATO to satisfy an arms manufacturer’s urgent financial requirements; the US Navy’s Pacific fleet deployments were for years dictated by a corrupt contractor who bribed high-ranking officers with cash and prostitutes; senior marine commanders agreed to a troop surge in Afghanistan in 2017 “because it will do us good at budget time.”
Based on years of wide-ranging research, Cockburn lays bare the ugly reality of the largest military machine in history: squalid, and at the same time terrifyingly dangerous.