On this edition of Parallax Views, there’s a rich and storied history of resistance to war profiteering in the United States of America. Joining us to unpack this overlooked history is Hunter DeRensis, communications director for BringOurTroopsHome.US and author of the recent article “Merchants Of Death: From the Nye Committee to Joe Kent, the fight against war profiteering is a constant struggle”. in The American Conservative.
We begin by discussing the impetus behind writing the article, namely Hunter’s interest in public perception of the military-industrial complex. In contrast to today, where military-industrial complex is used as a non-loaded off-hand to refer to companies like Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, Hunter says that a century ago there was a broad public resistance to and skepticism of the military-industrial complex and, more specifically, war profiteering. We then delve into the history of this public resistance going back to the Progressive Era and WWI. In this regard we discuss JP Morgan, then the largest investment bank in the world and often referred to in those days as “The House of Morgan”, and DuPont in relation to war profiteering in the WWI era. Additionally we discuss the use of taxation against war profiteers and figures who led the charge against war profiteering like the politicians William Jennings Bryan, George Norris, Robert LaFollette, Gerald Nye, and Hiram Johnson. Later on in the conversation we discuss the bestselling 1930s book Merchants of War that sought to expose war profiteering, left and right opposition to war profiteering, the Nye Commitee investigation into war profiteering, Theodore Roosevelt and war hawks, Smedley Butler and War is a Rocket, historian Charles Austin Beard, the costs of WWI, the near universality of sentiment against war profiteering in the interwar period, the early feminist and suffragist movements connection to the pacifist and antiwar movements in the early 20th century, Hunter’s involvement with BringOurTroopsHome.US and the fact that many veterans oppose U.S. nation-building war today, the profits made by Eugene G. Grace of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation off war, the extent and scope of the Nye Committee, American nationalism, the attacks on Gerald Nye by figures like Sen. Tom Connally and Sen. Carter Glass, war profiteers funding both sides of conflicts, secret treaties involving Woodrow Wilson and WWI, the Appropriations Commitee and the shutdown of the Nye Commitee, why the Nye Committee fell short of its ultimate goals, arms manufactures post-WWI and the rise of the military-industrial complex, the post-WWII permanent war economy, why libertarians should oppose the military-industrial complex, the impact and legacy of the Nye Commitee, Dan Crenshaw and Tom Cotton not being representative of the supermajority of veterans’ views on U.S. wars and foreign policy, and more!