itpdx's Reviews > Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Drift by Rachel Maddow
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's review
Jun 25, 12

bookshelves: non-fiction, lwv-book-group
Read from June 22 to 25, 2012

Maddow echoes Eisenhower’s warning from 50 years ago with this polemical case study of the US’s drift into some of the dangers our last General-President foresaw.
“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
“We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.“ (Eisenhower, 1961)
Maddow shows how the power to declare war has slipped from the hands of Congress into the hands of the presidency. She tells us how the private contractor “solution” arose; and how war is waged out of sight of citizens and Congress. She addresses our deteriorating nuclear arsenal and our increasing inability to handle it safely. (She does not address what is happening in Russia, which I am sure is devoting even less resources to the problem!)
Her forthright story telling and outraged humor make this a compelling read.
Maddow leaves us with a rallying cry, “This isn’t bigger than us. Decisions about national security are ours to make. And the good news is that this isn’t rocket science… We just need to revive that old idea of America as a deliberately peaceable nation. That’s not simply our inheritance, it’s our responsibility.”
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