Arsenal of World War II The Political Economy of American Warfare 1940 – 1945

Paul A. C. Koistinen, Laurence University Press of Kansas, 2004. 667 pages. $49.95 Reviewed by Caroline Covell (Author, policy/political analyst, researcher)

History seems to repeat itself. Karl Marx’s stated that either in a market free economy, socialism, or capitalism, it generates a seed of self-destruction. Many people have overlooked the significant role of the military in our economy. Safritz & Russell said, in their book Introducing Public Administration, the military plays important role in the establishment of a civilian government. In this Arsenal of World War II, Koistinen describes how American military shapes the nation civilian government, its organizational structure and management, politics and diplomacy, economic power and control, labor and labor relation, governance, leadership management style and decisionmaking. Koistinen has cleverly described the adverse effects of the mobilization of the American military economy that begins since the early 1940s. In a different paradigm and historically, he describes how the process of the economic mobilization has resulted from a balance provision to imbalance provision– it improves civilian agencies but reduces military prerogatives and vice versa. As the demand for war increases, the mobilization of the economy is expanded by incorporating business sector into its governing and military provision is organized into manufacturing and production, and service deliveries. The civilians are incorporated into the military leadership management. This cross sector collaboration causes the military to operate its manufacturing and production in business like manner in which it provides goods and delivers services by emphasizing on profits while the policy and administration, which is later dominated by the interest groups, is operated mimicking ones of the civilian style. This collaboration has resulted in the military to be overpowered by the civilian groups and the industry but neither private sector nor the civilian is successful in military service engagement. This collaboration also encourages the army to form union with the navy to strengthen its organization and leadership. However, the deregulation of the military resources through contracting and

subcontracting causes the emergence of myriad interest/lobby groups and greater fragmented military units in economic terms. The mobilization of economy has proven to alter “the dynamics of the nation’s political economy in a way favoring industry,” said Koistinen. It has resulted in jobs and decision-making duplication and ineffective manufacturing and production process. The creation of OPM, OPACS, and SPAB under the control of NDAC and their operation through the establishment of boards and commissioning has dramatically changed the management, structure, and leadership of the military. Koistinen describes this cross sector collaboration that resulted in greater deregulation, brings negative impacts. Greater deregulation by increasing civilian engagement and industry involvement in the military produce negative impacts on the military organization, such as incomplete and misleading financial information; sales of military secrets; poor trained recruits who are lack in professionalism; shortage of personnel; shortage of supply of goods; statistics bureau to be lacking in current information while the statistic information is often falsified, without merit, incomplete and contradicting; inflated salaries of the executives; lavish travel expenses of the executives; exaggerated and improper use of outlays designated maintenance and repair; and fraud and falsification. In legal affairs, decentralization has resulted in duplication and lack of uniformity, damage outcome particularly for offices that deal with contracts, financing and other function that require extensive legal services, while financial fraud seems to become a routine case. With business attitude, the military operation requires performance based on efficiency, standardization, and simplification of forms and procedures. But greater emphasis on efficiency has resulted in hostility. The military’s effort to build the nation has been ill advised, said Koistinen. Problems of mismanagement begin to plague the arm-navy union and become chronic problems. Decision-making becomes highly centralized and rested on the top leader while contracting and subcontracting resulted in the emergence of private monopolists and oligarchs, which eventually overpower the military management. The relationship between the military and industry shapes the nation’s pattern of control - a monopolist of the state properties namely the national resources. The relationship between militarycivilian, on the other hand, grew into a critical matter as the quality of works is deteriorating and goods supplied are inadequate. Though by 1947 the average majority American was well-off, interest groups benefited on the economic concentration of corporate power and income was distributed upward and resulted in the nation level of welfare was declining. Cross sector collaboration has resulted in interest groups to dominate the military and both militarycivilian and military – industry unions have proven to be a failure. Koistinen is leading us to revisit the

vision of the military and its existence as the pillar of the nation. We are living in times of political economic condition, which seems familiar to the economic condition during this era described by Koistinen in this Arsenal of World War II. It represents a circle of life. As the Bible says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthian 6:14). What values do the military share with business or the civilian share with the military? It blurs the true vision and mission of the military. It tears the military of its main purposes and functions as the safety guard of the nation. In fact, it generates a seed of self-destruction. The author described how cross sector collaboration does harms to the military. Indeed, if you are thinking of cross sector collaboration, the Arsenal of World War II: the political Economy of American Warfare is a lesson worth learning.