Chapter 1

Why This Book

War, huh, good God y’all / What is it good for?

—Edwin Starr1

After all, the chief business of the American people is business.

—Calvin Coolidge2

War, Competition, and Commerce

War is good for business. The written record suggests that contractors have supplied shoddy goods at extreme mark-ups to the military for as long as men (and women) have fought battles. Edwin Starr sang the Motown hit protest song “War” into the tumult of Vietnam. Bruce Springsteen brought it back in the mid-1980s to protest Ronald Reagan’s engagements in Central America and, in 2003, the wars that George W. Bush’s administration had chosen to wage in Iraq and Afghanistan. Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker bond over it in Rush Hour (1998), trading martial ...

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