The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine (Hardcover)

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Why does the United States go to war?

America has a long tradition of justifying war as the defense of democracy. The War on Terror was waged to protect the West from the dangers of Islamists. The US soldiers stationed in over 800 locations across the world are meant to be the righteous arbiters of justice. Against this background, Andrew Cockburn brilliantly dissects the true 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 Cockburn 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 for budgetary reasons.

Based on years of wide-ranging research, Cockburn lays bare the ugly reality of the largest military machine in history: as profoundly squalid as it is terrifyingly deadly.

About the Author


Andrew Cockburn is the Washington Editor of Harper’s magazine and the author of many articles and books on national security, including including Rumsfeld, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, The Threat, which destroyed the myth of Soviet military superiority underpinning the Cold War, and Kill Chain: Drones and the Rise of High-Tech Assassins. He has written for, among others, the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, National Geographic, and the London Review of Books.

Praise For…


“Nothing I have read for years has so reoriented, even revolutionized, my thinking about the corporate/political forces that underly our constructing and ‘modernizing’ a doomsday machine, the subject of my own life’s work I am urging everyone to read this book.”
—Daniel Ellsberg, author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner

“[Cockburn] possesses a uniquely detailed knowledge of the arcane, lucrative machinations of this world, as well as a deep historical understanding of the forces that built it. And while the specifics change, the stories he tells all have the same shocking moral.”
—Jon Schwarz, The Intercept

“This is robust, old-fashioned progressive, polemical journalism … Cockburn describes some shocking practices, and provides valuable critiques—for example, of the over-reliance on sanctions as a coercive instrument.”
—Lawrence Freedman, New Statesman

“A devastatingly convincing account of the runaway nature of a powerful grouping of interests—the defence, intelligence and financial sectors in the US.”
—Mary Kaldor, openDemocracy

“An accessible yet forensic account of not only why runaway military spending is wrong, but how.”
—Ed O’Loughlin, Irish Times

“A withering exposé reveals the insatiable and squalid profit motive that drives the US military apparatus—the largest in modern history.”
Morning Star

“Corruption is the recurring theme that runs through the US journalist Andrew Cockburn’s brilliant journalism collected in The Spoils of War.”
—Richard Norton-Taylor, Declassified UK

“Painfully and presciently relevant to today’s issues … In another time, the kind of work that Cockburn has done for Spoils of War would gather nominations for prizes and placement on bestseller lists.”
—Winslow T. Wheeler, Real Clear Defense

“Informative and entertaining.”
—Mike Phipps, Labour Hub
Product Details
ISBN: 9781839763656
ISBN-10: 1839763655
Publisher: Verso
Publication Date: September 21st, 2021
Pages: 288
Language: English