I am no fan of Rachel Maddow, or her very left-leaning show on MSNBC. However, her book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power is a first rate examination of the degrading effects upon the country of that very danger which President and former Supreme Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of in his farewell address – the expansion of the “military-industrial complex.”
Madow’s theme is straightforward: Congress has irresponsibly and cowardly ceded its Constitutional duty as the sole branch of our three-branch governmental system empowered to declare war, while the Executive branch has grown ever stronger, usurping powers that the Founders never intended the President to have. She then documents America’s journey down the slippery slope of Presidential war-making power that is essentially unaccountable to the American people – from the Vietnam War and Lyndon Johnson through the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and Barack Obama.
As a Progressive, Maddow can’t pass blasting the favored villains of the American Left – Ronald Regan and former Vice President Dick Cheney – though she is surprisingly critical of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, and overall her approach to the topic is (excuse the pun) Fair and Balanced.
My main criticism of the book is that Maddow is missing one crucial item from her “to-do list” to help the country return to those “disincentives to war deliberately built into our American system of government” which she outlines on pages 249 -250 –namely the Draft. It is a surprising omission given how often Maddow points out the disconnect between the fraction of Americans burdened with fighting war and the vast majority of the public that is oblivious to the fact that war is even occurring. For instance, she writes:
“While America has been fighting two of its longest-ever boots-on-the-ground wars in the decade following 9/11, and fighting them simultaneously, less than one percent of the adult US population has been called upon to strap on those boots”
The solution is reinstating the Draft. Until we ensure all voters have to worry about whether their children will be called upon to deploy to some foreign hell hole to fight in some President’s misadventure, we will continue down this path of undeclared war-making for the sake of war-making to the detriment of our economy and our liberty.
This critique aside, I heartily recommend Drift. Maddow employs a writing style that is witty, poignant, and highly readable. Drift will force you to think – which is the goal of every author.