DRIFT: The Unmooring of American Military Power
Fans of Rachel Maddow, MSNBC commentator, will recognize her on-air style in her new book, Drift, in which she chronicles the slow slide of our nation into a permanent war mentality. Not the drift of any one president, she gives every president from Eisenhower on credit for the movement. The American culture is the problem.
One aspect of her on-air style is to use multiple word adjective such as “Should-I-make-war on-Saddam hall of mirrors”, or “you-could-be-killed -on-the-field –of battle combat duty.” She writes like she talks.
Maddow uses lots of quotes taken from other writings without specific attribution for them. There are no footnotes but in the rear of the book is a chapter by chapter list of sources, many of them books written by various presidents. She re-counts each president’s part in the drift by using his own words.
Perhaps the least known aspect of the drift to permanent war is her chapter on our aging nukes. It is chilling to read about the decomposing nuclear war heads, the deteriorating missiles and the apathetic attitude of the nuclear silo personnel in charge of thousands of bombs still targeted.
The most disturbing aspect of the story is how the government solved some personnel and budget shortcomings by the use of private contractors. No longer able to gain public support for the number of troops it takes to be on a permanent war footing, we now have more hired guns in some theaters of war than US military. Add retired military and private contractors to the triad of the military-industrial complex about which Eisenhower warned.
During any given administration there is a tendency for Americans to blame a particular president for getting us into yet another war. It is so easy to put the blame on one person or political party when it is our way of life and our values which are the real problem. When Americans change their lifestyle to include using less of the goods of the world and value life in all parts of the world. then permanent war will be less likely.
Maddow has written an easy-to-read narrative which can add incrementally to our political discourse in the very long road to permanent peace rather than permanent war.