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

Drift by Rachel Maddow
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Aug 25, 12

bookshelves: military-hist-policy, us-policy, us-politics
Read in August, 2012

Five nights a week, Rachel Maddow presents a well-researched show. The content is always good, but Maddow's depth, commitment and passion make it. Her forte is policy. In this book, she discusses how the US military has become "unmoored" from its Constitutional role.

She begins with the Constitution's framers and how they were in unanimous agreement, all of them, from Jefferson to Hamilton, that the power to make war cannot be made by one man. This kind of commitment needs discussion and agreement. Next, Maddow discusses the volunteer army and how it is a necessary component in the evolution of our current situation.

Then, she discusses the unconstitutional military actions of the Reagan administration, Grenada, Lebanon and Nicaragua and how they went, essentially, unpunished. From there, Maddow sees the Abrams Doctrine that requires call up of the National Guard a as a check on this power, since the manpower of the National Guard was a necessary component for mobilization. To get the resources of the "citizen soldiers" for Desert Storm, Pres. GWH Bush, needed and accordingly sought Congressional approval.

Since that time, presidents have seized initiatives and Congress gave them a pass. Internal policies of both the Pentagon and the CIA, policies that the public has had no input into or say about, have laid the foundations for greater executive branch control with little or no oversight. Private contractors, whose work is easily hidden can be used in lieu of armies. The CIA, whose official role is to gather information, now launches drones and sets kill targets. While a there has been a widely heralded withdrawal of "troops" from Iraq, thousands of contractors remain.

Through this discussion, Maddow shows how during the Cold War, the arms race was sold to the public through fear of Russia. Today's military buildup needs so such marketing effort. There are stories of nuclear accidents, an admitted 11 lost nuclear bombs all "back when" there was more oversight. Maddow concludes with a list of policies that can if not curtail, can hold back this evolution.

It's a short book, so not everything can be addressed. I would have liked a discussion on the re-purposing NATO after the cold war and 1950's/60's CIA operations (Bay of Pigs, removal of Allende in Chile, Mosaddegh in Iran, etc.) designed for regime change.
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