Ethical Markets w Hazel Henderson
May 7, 2022
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Ralph welcomes back crack investigative journalist, Andrew Cockburn, who in his latest book “The Spoils of War” outlines how the U.S. military budget has never been about “defense” but about profit. The military-industrial- congressional-media complex profits. We pay. Plus, Ralph answers a listener question.

Andrew Cockburn is the Washington Editor of Harper’s Magazine and has been reporting and commenting about the politics of war and national security for over forty years. He is the author of several books, including Rumsfeld: An American Disaster and The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine, as well as the Substack newsletter Spoils of War.

Defense companies are a leech on society. I described the whole complex as a single-cell organism that exists only to secure and expand its food supplies so it gets bigger.

Andrew Cockburn, author of The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine


My God [the current administration] almost makes Madeleine Albright look smart. They’re handed this machine and they think, out of just sheer irresponsibility, they want to use it.

Andrew Cockburn, author of The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine


I feel there’s no possibility of there being anyone like [Admiral Rickover]. Because the system is now geared to spitting out anyone who shows a sign of independence.

Andrew Cockburn, author of The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine


I think people should pay much more attention to the soft underbelly [of the military industrial complex]. Not just to say, “It’s all bad, and we shouldn’t be pissing away all our national treasure on the military industrial complex.” But to point out that it has feet of play. Legs of play. Bodies of play.  Because people have to understand that. People have to understand they’re being had. [That’s] what the whole game is about. Then we might get some sanity back in the discussion.

Andrew Cockburn, author of The Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine


The trajectory of this empire will devour our country. It’s already starving trillions of dollars over the years that could have rebuilt, modernized, upgraded all the public facilities, schools, public transit, drinking water systems, land erosion recovery, highways, and bridges. We’re paying the real price here. And I think it’s about time we listen to some of our returning veterans…who are now free to talk. And they’ll tell you something about the glory of war in a very satiric, bitter manner.

Ralph Nader

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 427 Transcript (Right click to download)


  1. I often took my daughter to VA so she could listen to experience soldiers. I worked security at the College of Southern Nevada, there were many who had served and had stories combined with quality education. There were some from other countries who had served and talked about what they saw for the future of the USA

  2. John Puma says:

    Again we hear about the alleged inferiority of the Russian missile early warning system – with reference to an incident of 28 years ago.

    Even if this were true, which it is not, (e.g. Russia’s system is NOT limited to ground radar, as suggested, but includes space based components also) the problem is not Russia but the US obsession to destroy it – or, at least, control its massive amount of resources.

    Ironically , I found an episode on the US “spoils of war,” akin to a defective “early warning” system, since there was NO mention of the US/President Dirty Harry’s clearly and openly promised second war front against China. This even as the US military and economic war against Russia is failing so badly that the empire-supporting US dollar as global reserve currency is being undermined by the vaunted, if self-destructive US “sanctions.”

    Russia doesn’t “need” a strong man leader but with the aggressively bellicose US, Russia would not have survived with the likes of Putin’s successor, Boris Yeltsin. This, of course, is Putin’s “crime,” he’s not a pathetic, US sycophant push-over.

  3. Thank you, Ralph and Andrew, for an illuminating interview, in which you point out the lack of congressional accountability for waste and abuse, as well as the self-perpetuating cycle of weapons funding and the drive for war. What is one to do about this seemingly Sisyphean struggle to break the power of the military industrial complex? For starters, let’s not call it “defense spending” or “defense companies” because these behemoths are not in the business of defense but offense, of global harm and destruction. Let’s instead say “military budget” “military spending” “military contractors.” Let’s buy Andrew’s book, further educate ourselves and use this knowledge to organize within our congressional districts, for as Ralph often points out it is supposed to be the People’s House, not the Raytheon House. Join us at and and contact me,, if you’d like to organize a delegation to urge your House and Senate reps to stop voting for billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine, and instead push the Biden White House to support a peace settlement, much like the one Turkey almost hammered out until the US and Britain interfered to keep the war going- to weaken Putin, who is the best recruiting tool for NATO and an imperial aggressor sitting on 6,000 nuclear warheads. With Finland about to join NATO and Sweden not far behind, the time is now to connect with grassroots peace activists, like Physicians for Social Responsibility, in these countries to organize an anti-nuclear block within NATO to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. As the song goes, “You’ve been sitting way too long.”

  4. Neil Harris says:

    Thanks for this great interview. I really appreciated the couple of questions at the end about Alexander Cockburn. I was 20 years old in 2000 and didn’t have much understanding of politics other than I voted Democrat because my dad always did as a union member. One day in that period of time after election day and before the Supreme Court decided Bush “won” I walked by a bookstore in a mall and saw a copy Mr Nader’s book Crashing the Party. I didn’t know much about Ralph at the time so I picked it up. That would turn out to be a turning point in my young life. I learned a heck of a lot from the book itself, and even more from the recommended readings Mr Nader put in the back of the book. I discovered both Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn from this list and I really got fascinated with both of them and radical politics. I still have my subscription to CounterPunch, and I think Alexander would be proud of how Jeffrey St Clair and Joshua Frank are running it. Mr Nader, Chomsky, and Alexander Cockburn taught me just about everything I know about the world and I am very grateful. Keep up the great work everyone

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