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

Drift by Rachel Maddow
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Apr 21, 2012

it was amazing

According to author and political pundit, Rachel Maddow, Thomas Jefferson believed that the executive branch of the US government would always be tempted to take the country into war. To prevent this, the power to declare war was given to congress in the belief that, with so many people with different and conflicting agendas, it would be much harder to get such a declaration. Jefferson also believed that the burden of war, both the financial and human cost, must be shared by all, thus adding another strong deterrent.

However, in the last few decades all of this has changed - the US has been at war almost without cease since Reagan. Since then, a series of wars have been declared by each successive President regardless of political stripe, without Congress' approval or, in some cases, knowledge. At the same time, fewer citizens have taken part in the actual fighting while the rest stay at home. War, in effect, has become almost painless for the vast majority making waging war more attractive. There has also been a huge rise in the use of private contractors in war zones (sadly, who have few if any restraints on their behaviour) making war not only less painful but much more profitable for some.

Maddow's book gives us a well-documented, well-researched explanation of how this happened. She points out that this has been the result of policies of both parties, that presidents on both sides of the aisle have been willing to embrace this drift away from the Founding Fathers' original intent and that Congress, again on both sides of the aisle, have allowed this to happen with almost no objection.

There is also a chapter where Maddow lists all of the nuclear accidents which have occurred on American soil in this same time period, a list scarier than anything Stephen King has written.

Maddow makes her points about the unmooring of military power clearly, cogently, and with a great deal of wry humour. Most importantly, it is non-partisan and very accessible. If you read only one book on politics this year (or even if you have no plans to read any), you should really read this one - I can't think of a more important message that everyone needs to hear.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 25, 2012 – Finished Reading
April 21, 2012 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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chris tierney "...a list scarier than anything Stephen King has written." Exactly! I could not have put it better.


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