BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Military Industrial Complex at 50: Edited by David Swanson, With Contributions from 30 Others

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Military Industrial Complex at 50: Edited by David Swanson, With Contributions from 30 Others

Bainbridge Island, WA  — I hate war — and question the sanity and intent of anyone who thinks war is anything but destruction and terror, even when fought in defense of nations and the world.  Often wars are rackets for the profit of those who supply the means to conduct them.

And I have written extensively on the subject even as I have served for about 14 years in the Regular Army of the United States and the Reserve, both as an enlisted man and officer –serving with some of the most  intelligent and ethical people I have ever known.

As a longtime critic of the ‘Military-Industrial Complex’, so named in his Jan. 17, 1961 Farewell Address by the late President Dwight Eisenhower (see link to the address at the end of this review), I greeted the chance to review an anniversary commentary with great personal enthusiasm.

“The Military-Industrial Complex at 50” (Published by David Swanson, Charlottesville, VA, $25.00)  was unfortunately not what I had expected and hoped for:  a clear quantification and evaluation of what had occurred in the years since Ike gave it a name.

I was disappointed.

Before anything else, I should emphasize that what is in this 368-page volume is a collection of sincere and passionate commentary. What is not present in the book is an acceptable and objective recitation of what has evolved that could be useful.

What I did find was a collective indictment of the United States of America and the State of Israel with here and there opinions suggesting or outright asserting that America and Israel have waged all sorts of wanton slaughter around the world.

It might have helped as widely ranging as this book is had it included a detailed subject index so the reader, and this reviewer, could trace sources and details.  Instead, there are about a dozen pages of “Notes” from references that make it virtually impossible and far too time consuming to go back and forth to check commentary.

All that said, one of the commentaries that struck me as both groundless and naïve was that of Helena Cobban, indicated as a former reporter for ABC News and BBC, among others.  As with other writers, the lady is offered as having “expertise” with respect to Middle Eastern diplomacy and politics.  Unfortunately, though listed as a reporter, there is little question her biases do not permit her to include the many atrocities visited upon here chief and consistent target: Israel.

What I called naïve was her  her comment on page 306 of the book in which she asserts:  ….”We’re told that the people who are ruling Gaza, who were elected authorities….are irrational, Islamist madmen who want to oppress women.  Not true.”

She goes on to say she met four “elected Hamas women parliamentarians” and they were all very nice.

I have not been able to find the commentaries about their being madmen, etc.  However, anyone with slightest knowledge of Hamas and Hizbollah need  not take a college course to find not only their declarations to destroy Israel but to deny the Holocaust, a denial that is endemic in the Arab world.  Beyond that, and within only recent days, a major appointee of the Palestinian Authority declared the need to destroy all Jews, period.

Furthermore, as far back as 2009, The Washington Institute reported that stemming the flow of arms into Gaza will enhance regional stability. Much of this weaponry is provided by Iran, and specifically by the IRGC, increasing Iran’s regional influence while threatening the position of Fatah in Palestinian politics. Dealing effectively with these tunnel systems could curtail Iranian influence. Conversely, if Gaza remains a terror base — a safe haven for extremists and global jihadists — regional instability and Palestinian suffering will surely grow.

Neither Ms Cobban nor any of the other anti-Israel writers mentioned the slaughters of schoolchildren in Ma’alot by terrorists, the murder of a wheelchair bound old man on the Achille Lauro, the 1972  murder of Israeli Olympic Athletes in Munich and hundreds of other atrocities.  Mostly, they avoid the reality Israel was given a rebirth by the United Nations and was promptly attacked by several Arab nations who could not destroy the newly minted nation.

In the end, this one point is beside the fact the book’s title has misused President Eisenhower’s powerful warning about the Military Industrial Complex as well as the heroic US Marine Corps hero General Smedley Butler, the only American ever to win two Medals of Honor.

As noted earlier, I had hoped for an objective assessment of the business of the Military Industrial Complex and the misuse of such combinations….not a naked effort to use that historic review by President Eisenhower to become the chief court of condemnation only of the United States and Israel with only the most modest understanding of other forces at work.

If one wishes to be a judge of history, historical fact and objectivity are useful but not part of this book which arrived wrapped in a T-shirt  showing a pair of handcuffs and the declaration calling for the arrest of Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama.

The book, however impassioned the authors and their widely scattered commentaries on their ideas of history, failed to be the needed legitimate history of this issue.Frankly, and my own bias, the authors and publisher seem unwilling to accept virtually any kind of even a legitimate force to defend the US and certainly not Israel.  That virtually diminishes the energetic effort as a credible review of a massively important subject.

Link to Eisenhower’s Farewell Address:


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