As much as the weaponry it produced as one of the “arsenals of the United Nations,” the TVA itself was potent propaganda, an authoritative, living symbol of how a liberal world could be constructed postwar. (source)
This usage where "as much as" is followed by a noun phrase is unfamiliar to me. I am much more familiar with constructions of "as much as" followed by a clause, such as
even though : despite the fact that
As much as I respect him, I still have to disagree with him on this point. (source: Merriam Webster)
I can't find other sentences with similar structures to the sentence at issue at the top of this question. What does "as much as + noun phrase" mean? Despite that NP...? What does that sentence mean?