• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Beata on Once they’re in, you can’t vot…
    Beata on “Pet Peeves”
    Beata on “Pet Peeves”
    Propertius on Once they’re in, you can’t vot…
    William on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    HerStory Repeating on Once they’re in, you can’t vot…
    Beata on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    William on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    Beata on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    jmac on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    Beata on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    jmac on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    William on The Welcome Escape of a M…
    Propertius on “Pet Peeves”
    MAG on “Pet Peeves”
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    April 2012
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

    • Fuck this little fascist
      Dear lord, the man has the self-awareness of lox. https://t.co/0osnsWiD0p — Gary Legum (@GaryLegum) September 29, 2022 This quote is funny because Alito and five of his colleagues joined a majority opinion last June which just straight up lied about the facts of the case, and then stuck to the lie when they were confronted … Continue reading Fuck this little […]
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Attacks On Nord Stream I & II
      Let’s point out the obvious. Russia had no reason to attack its own pipelines. If it doesn’t want gas to go thru them it just turns off the tap. Sabotage to the pipelines weakens Russia’s position, since it will be months before they can offer to turn fuel back on, which they would have wanted to offer during the winter in order to pressure Germany in specif […]
  • Top Posts

Book Review: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Quick aside before I start: I grew up in the military.  My little sister and I were dropped off at The Nursery on the Naval base in Norfolk when my parents wanted to go out for dinner.  My sister, going through a period of separation anxiety, would cry for what seemed like hours.  I spent the first hour trying to console her and the rest of the evening having a blast with other kids, playing games and watching cartoons from an overhead projector.  If our parents were late, there was a room with bunkbeds for the kids who hadn’t been picked up yet.  It was like a sleepover and we’d talk quietly to one another until our moms and dads plucked us out of bed and took us home.

We got our healthcare from The Dispensary.  That was a clinic staffed with corpsmen and doctors who handled our shots, my bout of hepatitis A when I was four and my sister’s unending stream of asthma attacks.  There was a pharmacy on site that dispensed bottles of thick yellow Tedral that made my sister jittery but allowed us all a few hours of peace each night to sleep.  My parents shopped at the PX and The Commissary.  My family ate generics before the rest of the country knew what they were.  They weren’t even store brand.  They were canned foods with white labels with black block lettering that said “Peaches” or “Green Beans”.  Nothing fancy but sound and good and American grown by some farmer in the midwest.

In the summer, we went to Summer Fun at the base at Pearl Harbor where the first thing we did each day was swim 40 laps in the officer’s pool followed by survival training where we learned to stay afloat for hours in case riptides dragged us and our boogie boards out to sea.  We took field trips and polished kukui nuts and made flowers out of wire petals dipped in a liquid plastic material that is probably now off limits to children.  At night, we ran around military housing until the wee hours and dodged the patrol cars trying to enforce curfew.

So, my experience of growing up military brat was mostly positive.  Changing schools so often wasn’t fun but it was easier when other kids were in the same boat.

I suspect it’s not like that anymore.  In fact, on Google maps, I can’t find the old military housing where I lived in Pearl Harbor.  My old elementary school is there but the rowhouses with the enclosed lanais have been replaced by pods of condos.  But there was a price to pay for being a brat during the Vietnam War.  From the age of 2 until I was 10, I saw my dad for only a couple of months a year.  And we were the lucky ones.

[Katiebird (KB) here. My comments will be in italic: ] My childhood experience was a little different too.  My parents met while working at a Navel Atomic Energy Research Lab and my dad worked there until he transferred to Water Pollution Control (later the EPA) in 1967. So I had some exposure to the fringes of military life although we were very much civilians. And the mission of the lab my dad worked in was to find a defense against nuclear weapons so that was a little weird too.]

Rachel Maddow’s book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, is about the modern military and how we got here.  If you are a fan of Rachel’s style on Air American and MSNBC, you’ll find this book an entertaining read.  I read the first two chapters and then listened to the rest of it on Audible.  And while we are going to give away a signed copy of the book, I recommend the audible version.  Maddow’s snarky, ironic style comes across better in her oral interpretation of the book in the audio format.

This book is well researched and very well written.  Each chapter moves smoothly into the next.  She hits what she considers to be the most important series of events that lead from the limited use of our military for serious wars to the establishment of a full time military with unprecedented lethality but burdened with unaccountable private contractors and the loss of generational technological memory.

[KB] I was stunned by the amount of research that went into this book.  And her skill in condensing and combining facts in an interesting and readable fashion.

Early on, she introduces us to the Abram’s doctrine, which arose out of Vietnam.  During the Vietnam war, President Johnson made the decision to not involve the Reserves or National Guard.  This was unprecedented in American military history where previous conflicts involved them.  Instead, Johnson used the draft to meet the increasing demands of an escalating war.  The Reserves and National Guard became a haven for the rich and well-connected and the draft the place for the less fortunate.  As the war was winding down, the Abrams doctrine was introduced to tie the hands of the president.  With respect to future conflicts, the involvement of the Reserves and National Guard would be hard to avoid so that the whole country would feel the sting of war and would therefore enter into one more cautiously.  After the implementation of the Abrams doctrine, the president would need to consult with Congress to get approval for committing troops to wars and the Reserves would need to be included.  As you can imagine, the Republicans didn’t much care for tying the hands of their executives.

[KB] I really liked being reminded about the relationship of the draft and the Vietnam war vs National Guard & the wars since. That might be my biggest takeaway from this book.

The rest of the book highlights how various presidents have attempted to get around the Abrams doctrine and how, over the intervening 40 years, they have mostly succeeded.  The sections featuring Ronald Reagan’s “Arms for Hostages” Iran-Contra affair are both hillarious and horrifying.  The impression one gets about Reagan is that he was playing a dangerous game but that trying to get around Congress was just a lark to him.  Either Reagan was the simpleton Maddow makes him out to be, which is terrifying enough, or he knew exactly what he was doing and his actions should have gotten him impeached.  After all, what the Arms for Hostages deal involved was selling missiles to Iran through Israeli middlemen in order to free Americans who were kidnapped by Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Then the money from those sales were passed on to the Contras in Nicaragua.  Congress had specifically prohibited any help whatsoever from the US government to the Contras through the Boland Amendment.  But Attorney General Ed Meese had found chinks in the amendment that would allow the assistance, even going so far as to say that Congress hadn’t prohibited the Department of Agriculture or Health and Human Services from aiding the Contras.  In other words, the Reagan Administration was going to do it no matter what impediment Congress put in Reagan’s way.

[KB] I read through the bits about Iran-Contra several times because I’ve never understood what happened there.  At the time it seemed like the entire Reagan Administration was going down…. and then it was never mentioned again.  Well, Rachel has pages of detail – quotes from Congressional Hearings, Time Magazine & a step-by-step description of what happened and when. But, the climax is just as vague to me now as it was then:

The president had been caught red-handed. Congress had exercised its legal and constitutional prerogative to restrain the executive france from waging a war in Nicaragua. Reagan responded by by breaking the law, waging the war anyway, and funding it by illegal and secret weapons deals that the president insisted weren’t happening. The secretary of defense was indicted on multiple counts, as were two national security advisers, an assistant secretary of state, the chief of Covert Ops at the CIA, and two other senior CIA officials. The president himself escaped largely by pleading exhaustive ignorance and confusion: “I’m afraid that I let myself be influenced by others’ recollections, not my own . . . the simple truth is, I don’t remember — period.” The Reagan presidency — the whole mythology of Reagan’s leadership — was laid bare. This was competence? (pg. 122)

Is that clear? “The president escaped largely by pleading exhaustive ignorance and confusion” Really?  Is that really how that happened? Because from there we skip onto George H. W. Bush and his pardons — and we don’t really look back. From then on the precedent was set and we just don’t have to expect trivial respect for legalities from our Presidents anymore.

Maddow details the disaster in Grenada and it comes off sounding like a tragic version of Keystone Kops planned the invasion and 19 servicemen died.  She recounts Bush Senior’s conflict with Congress over the first Gulf War as well as the Dynacor contractors in Bosnia who bought sex slaves with US taxpayer dollars as the military shifted to private contracting in the 90s.  In her last chapters, she talks about what is happening to our nuclear arsenal and the almost complete absence of documentation that would help the military maintain and replace components, including the hydrogen producing substances in the missiles themselves where the recipe for making more material has gone missing and military scientists are unable to reproduce it.  North Dakota is at the mercy of a socket wrench and air force specialists don’t bother going through safety checklists.

Throughout the book, Maddow maintains attention to resources and detail.  It is obvious that a lot of research went into writing this book.  Where she found time, I’ll never know.  But I do have some issues with the way the book was written and, based on my short discussion with Katiebird, we both are finding it problematic in the same way.  Maddow lays out pretty clearly how the drift occurred but she makes no attempt to suggest why it happened.  One almost gets the feeling that if you are a follower of Maddow’s brand of politics, you don’t have to wonder why it happened.  You just know.  It is to be assumed that the military industrial complex is driving things and that the presidential players are in on it, although her treatment of Bill Clinton and Al Gore seems ambivalent at best.  According to Maddow, it was all those Nurseries, Dispensaries and Summer Fun that persuaded Clinton and Gore outsource military dependent care to private contractors.  Maybe it’s just because I was an adult during the 90s and old enough to pay attention but I suspect that the high price of daycare on military bases was a Republican concern.  Consider military brats the equivalent of the welfare queen.

But if it is true that the military industrial complex is driving the drift to permanent war standing, why doesn’t she take that theory to its logical conclusion?  I mean, she justifiably comes down pretty hard on George W. Bush for starting two wars, one of them wholly unnecessary, and then giving the country a series of irresponsible tax cuts, but she spares Obama for extending the Bush tax cuts when we simply cannot afford the wars anymore.  Obama did this unnecessarily and irresponsibly as well.  Where is the condemnation for that?

Similarly, Obama is given credit for signing the new START treaty at the beginning of his presidency but not condemned for negotiating a contract for modernizing our nuclear defense systems which will include nuclear laden drones.  The price tag is crushing and the prospects of unmanned nuclear drones terrifying but you get the idea that Obama’s hand was forced by Republicans.  He’s just being dragged into things.  None of this is his fault.  It’s everyone else’s fault for starting wars and hiring private contractors. Obama is the only president who seems to be blessed with an excuse.  I’m not buying it.  Not only am I not buying it but if we have drifted into maintaining an expensive standing army at perpetual war, then it would seem that a good way of turning American’s attention to it would be to fix the economy first to free up some mental capacity for putting an end to the trend. But there is no suggestion that that might be necessary or that Obama has the wherewithal to do it.  And if that’s the case, can we please get a replacement who knows what the heck he/she is doing?

Another oddity is that Maddow almost entirely skips the controversy of the Iraq War Resolution.  I’m not sure why she chooses to do this since it was the basis for the left favoring one candidate over the other in 2008.  You’d think the IWR would merit some kind of coverage but I guess we’re all supposed to be so familiar with it that there’s no need to rehash all of the ugly details.  And she doesn’t say too much about the shocking use of misleading information and propaganda that was used by both Bushes for their excursions to the Persian Gulf.  I can’t account for this since the rest of the book is heading for it and then it just disappears, *poof!*, from the historical record.

[KB] I was kind of confused as well.

I think the problem with “Drift” might be the collision of Maddow the Researcher vs Maddow the Democrat.  My biggest complaint about the book is that I do not believe that any of the events had anything at all to do with “Drift” — Nothing so consistent as our move toward scaling back domestic spending and building up military spending happens without a deliberate decision among Very Serious People. And that decision had to include Republicans and Democrats.  It had to. If the Democrats were against it — truly against it — they would have made sure there were headlines in all the appropriate places. And the same thing goes for the Iraq War Resolution (perhaps in this case she didn’t want to expose just how limited that resolution was).

And while I appreciate the high level of research and quality of the writing, I’m still dissatisfied that Maddow didn’t take more time to find out what was driving Reagan, Bush Sr. and Dick Cheney.  Maybe in the end, it doesn’t matter why they did it as long as we voters insist that it stops because it is bankrupting us.  But if we never identify the actors who made it happen, and I think the public actors are not at all the whole story, we can never get to the source of the problem: the aspects of American culture that encourage a cavalier attitude for profit and glory at the expense of rules and the common good.  On this problem, one can almost hear Maddow saying, “Beats me! I have no f*$(ing clue.”

[KB] I think this book comes right up to being a fantastic history of how the relationship between the President & Congress evolved through the last 45 years or so. I am, however, disappointed by her lack of courage — or whatever it was that held her back from sharing the full story. I don’t believe she has “no f*$(ing clue.”  She’s too smart for us to let her get away with that.  This is a great book for what it is. It could have been off the scale with a little more work.   

Still, pretty good read.  Very entertaining.  Get the audible version and clean your house.  On a scale of 1-5, this one rates 4 sponges.


We are giving a signed copy of Rachel’s book away.  If you are interested in reading it, please indicate in the comment thread below.  I’ll use a random number generator to select a lucky recipient and will contact you through your email address.  If you have previously indicated that you wanted to read it, I will add your name and address to the entries.

36 Responses

  1. That does appear to be an interesting read, despite the omissions you noted. Please throw me into the random number pool, if you’d be so kind.

  2. I’ve added my review-comments to the post. I hope it’s in a readable way. Let me know if there’s confusion — I could add ** or something to add clarity.

    • Makes perfect sense.
      I also don’t think Rachel has no fu^*ing clue but for some reason, she doesn’t want to go there. These things don’t just happen for no reason. It’s also not true that every president has to have some kind of military victory. Carter didn’t seem to like going to war and look what happened in Iran. According to what the Bushes did, Carter should have bombed Tehran back to the stone age.
      Same with Clinton. He showed a lot of restraint when it came to the bombings in Africa and Yemen. Maybe the Republicans really did get in his way but it’s not like he was looking for an unprovoked fight where he could beat the shit out of some little nothing country. That kind of behavior seems to be something the Republican presidents excel at. Why is that? She never bothers to find out.

      • It kind of pisses me off that she dropped the ball like that. I hardly ever read non-fiction from cover to cover as I did with this.

        I wonder if she did all this fantastic research and then desperately decided on the Drift theme. The theme doesn’t seem intrinsic to the story. Every time it shows up, it’s almost like it was inserted into the text.

        If that’s the then maybe those holes are things that would have pulled us away from the theme?

        • Still, it’s totally worth owning just for the detailed factual timeline. It’s probably not fair of me to insist on reviewing the book she didn’t write.

        • No,I think it is good to ask those kinds of questions. It’s like reading a paper. This is non-fiction. The author put out research and then tries to defend it. We’d be lax if we didn’t try to poke holes in it.
          But she writes it in such an entertaining style that it crosses into something else. So, is she trying to entertain? Educate? Persuade? Do her bit for Obama? Because he seems to be the only one left off the hook for anything.
          Depending on who reads it, it could be seen as a very clever piece of persuasion.

          • I’m guessing there are several Senate/Congressional Dems let off the hook. The ball was dropped. When? Why? By whom?

            Remember when we were kids — all those movies about Reporters? and the rules, Who, What, When, Where, Why?

            Rachael’s giving us What, When & Where but leaving out the Who & Why. In fact by the very premise of this book, there IS no Why. Stuff just happens.

          • Good one. All that passive stuff makes you think it just *happened*.

  3. I found this post very instructive. The drift of the American Army is indeed a key factor to take into account in the global politics development of the recent years. Your account of your infancy in this environment gives a more vivid color to the picture.
    Yet, I think there is a mistake sliding into your valuable review: the Contras’ warfare during the Reagan years was deployed in Nicaragua, not in El Salvador. I don’t know if this mistake goes to your account or to Maddow one. This is a confusion not uncommon to find in American writers, but it’s understandable: few here, in Argentina, would be capable of distinguish between two African countries of the West Coast too.

    • Yep, already corrected. So many central American countries in turmoil back then. Lots of blood and death squads and bad stuff. It tends to all merge into one big Nicarsalvamaladorus. Was going to correct it sooner but Katiebird was editing her comments in so I waited.

  4. The ball is still being dropped.

    She’s brilliant — I’ve never watched her show so I can only judge by this book. And, I’m saying straight out that “Drift” was written by a very smart person.

    So she’s surely smart enough to know what’s missing. And she could have added it (that’s the nature of multiple drafts) ….

    Why didn’t she fill in the blanks?

    Is it information that would make her fans freak out?

    I’m trying to remember how the Love Bombing business works. Could Maddow be affected by that?

    • I’ve listened to her discuss her book and I think what she’s getting at is that we got this way by drifting over time toward more and more power to the executive branch. No president has ever given any of the power back, period. Though some were more blood thirsty than others, that’s still the basic truth.

      What she advocates is for the Congress, and the people, to take that power back where it belongs. I most heartily concur.

      • Yes, this is what she prescribes. However, if we don’t find the root cause of our problem with executive control of the military and the periodic catastrophes of financial system (I think they have the same cause), we will continue to subject ourselves to these disasters. And on the cause, she is silent.

        • The cause of executive control of the military is frankly obvious. The Congress has been unwilling to stand up and say no for fear of being blamed for any potentially bad results.

          Both the executive and the Congress have chosen to take the easy way out. Presidents and Congresses of both parties have taken that approach in almost every case. You really don’t need any further causal analysis.

  5. Aw, come on. You know why Maddow is pulling her punches–you all but spelled it out. As The Incomparable One point out, telling this particular truth is impossible for her, even if she recognizes it, because she’s a tribalist. As with a few other female “pundits” I could name, but won’t.

    Peripheriphally related, was anyone else happy (relieved) to see Clinton in Western dress in this photo, albeit with her hair pinned back and looking as gender-neutral as possible? http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/slideshow/ALeqM5jLOh1psAOujiR9duQH2EFkSskJKQ?docId=08855dd5467f42cbbfd9546eb32119ad&index=1

    Sorry to drift off-topic.

  6. I have to give Maddow props or one thing. The night of the NH primary, 2008, she reported that TPM was claiming that Chris Matthews’ sexist treatment of Hillary was bringing the women voters out in droves. Tweety was leading the coverage and enraged that Hillary was whupping his baby boy. Maddow was a virtual nobody, laughing at Tweety, who was sputtering and turning bright red.

    Of course, she’s a total Obot now and I’m not surprised to hear that she didn’t confront Obama’s hawkishness.

    • O-bot or just doesn’t want to be thrown off the MSNBO gravy train?

      • I stopped watching MSNBC before Maddow got her hour-long gig so I don’t know if she’s had the nerve to criticize Obama around the edges as Jon Stewart and a few others have. When I was still watching the channel, she was a totally bedazzled Obot. That moment when she jabbed Tweety seemed to be a one-time-only act.

    • I remember that show, Jean Louise. It was the last time that Maddow openly confronted Tweety or Olby or any of the MSNBC (or MSNBO as I called them all those years ago). I watched in horror as she joined the boyz klub. I stopped watching all of that network at that point. She was co-opted and the koolaid stains were unbecoming on Maddow. They still are.

  7. I tuned out Maddow because she was on the Obama bandwagon and believed the manufactured PR of Hope+Change(tm). She didn’t apply independent research to The One.

  8. Katiebird,

    Searching for the answers to the questions you raised gets you accused of “conspiracy theory” and “tinfoil”. One comes to expect such diversionary insults.

    The people who stole the ball and hid it have their reasons, and those reasons are worth researching and/or speculating about at the very least.

    My memory fades and I didn’t even keep totally close track at the time, but I remember Democratic Senator Danieo Inoue of Hawaii being very suddenly important at a very crucial time in hearings involving Ollie North in suppressing and aborting the hearings from
    taking what would have been a very fruitful path of inquiry. Inoue invoked the “national security” excuse and shut a particular line of questioning right down. And that’s all I remember about that.

    • And I guess it would be fair … after all if these results (the shift from Domestic priorities to Military Dominance) wasn’t from DRIFT then it pretty much had to be a deliberate (or other) conspiracy.

      • I do some of my best thinking when I put on my tinfoil thinking cap. The problem with tinfoil thinking is that you have to be able to take the cap off as easily as you put it on. And the tinfoil grips your head like a starfish and resists all efforts to pry it off, giving rise to the question:
        ” are you wearing the tinfoil or is the tinfoil wearing you?”

        I remember a very ponderous High Intellectual Newsletter called the New York Review of Books having a number of articles during the Iranamok-Contragate Hearings . . . about the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the Reagan Administration behavior. I think these articles were by Walter Lacqueur, but it was a long time ago.

  9. Me, me, me! I want to read it.

  10. I think I’m still in from Sunday!

    Yes, Maddow is exceptionally bright so I don’t think she “missed” stuff – it had to have been deliberate on her part.

    • Well, there is a whole vast Gatekeeper Establishment which would immediately accuse her of conspiracy theory, foilhead thinking, etc.; if she went beyond the level of dissent which has the Good Gatekeeping Seal of Approval. If you displease them badly enough, they may well sneer you all the way into total obscurity . . . where nothing you say reaches anyone at all. Perhaps Maddow feels she can do some major good reaching a lot of people with a lot of stuff, and if she goes too far, she will be banned from reaching anyone with anything.

      Or, alternatively; Maddow may well have an Inner Gatekeeper living inside her own mind, keeping her from even THINKing certain thoughts. If someone asked her who she thought killed President Kennedy, would she say ” Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone”? ( When primary-candidate Senator Harkin came to Ann Arbor and I attended his rally, I asked him . . . at the informal question-answer cluster that sometimes forms around someone . . . who, in his personal opinion, actually killed President Kennedy as well as who planned it and on whose behalf? And he said ” that is a mystery which will probably never be answered”. I really like Tom Harkin.)

  11. I think after work tonight I might offer a few thoughts on what might be some good things to read about how we got where we are and who got us here . . . based on things I read years or many years ago. Nowadays I leave myself too little orderly time to do deep orderly reading in books ( Books! . . . ) and not all that much on the interwebs either. So who can say whether any memory-based suggestion I might have would be any good or not? All I can offer is my best and hope it amounts to something.

    Certainly reviewing the Maddow book and accepting comments on it is a very good point of departure toward thinking and maybe recommendations of all sorts on this area. (Damn those trolls for killing a thread after two days.)

    • RU — I would really like to see that. We could probably re-open this post when you were ready with the comment or something. It’s certainly something I’m thinking about these days. And it would be great to have more information while that book is still fresh in my mind.

      • Well! . . Thank you for that invitation and expression of confidence in what I might be able to remember and coherently organize. I will think about it for a couple of days or so and then write a comment on it. If it looks like you have a blog-purposed email address I may well send it to that.
        Otherwise, I will just write it onto an open thread of the moment and you-all can move it down into this thread if that seems best.

        • I’ve reopened the threads for another couple of days as an experiment. If we have to spend too much time whacking trolls, we’ll have to change it back though.

  12. (By the way, and totally offthread, I circled back to the religion threads and they are already closed. A thought occurred to me, that
    since Hitchens and Dawkins don’t just “not believe in God” , they TRUly beliEEEEVE in NO god. So maybe they should call themselves the prophets of a New Religion, the Religion of Atheistianity. They could found a Church of Atheistianity and call it a Religion just like their opponents do, and demand all the tax benefits and treatments of any other Church. And since to a pure agnostic like myself, a True beLIEF in NO god seems enough like a kind of faith that they might not even be lying. They could call it the First Atheistian Church of No God No Nothing and get it registered and everything. The religion could be called Atheistianity. That would mess with a few heads.)

  13. Here’s a link to another blogger’s review of Maddow’s book: Catching Rachel Maddow’s Drift by David Swanson.

    Here’s a taste:

    Maddow’s book picks out episodes, from the war on Vietnam to the present — episodes in the expansion of the military industrial complex and in the aggrandizement of presidential war powers. Some of the episodes are extremely revealing and well told. Maddow’s is perhaps the best collection I’ve seen of nuclear near-miss and screw-up stories. But much is missing from the book. And some of what is there is misleading.

    Missing is the fact that U.S. wars kill people other than U.S. troops. The U.S. Civil War’s battles, in Maddow’s view “remain, to this day, America’s most terrifying and costly battles.” That depends what (or whom) you consider a cost. A listing of U.S. dead on the television show “Nightline,” Maddow writes, “would be a televised memorial to those who had died in a year of war.” Would it really? Everyone who had died? Victims of U.S. wars make an appearance in these pages as the sex slaves of U.S. mercenaries, but not as the victims of murder on a large scale. This absence is in contrast to a large focus on the damage done to U.S. troops, and a much larger focus on financial costs — and not even on the tradeoffs, not even on the things that we could be spending money on, but rather on the “threat” of deficits and debt. Maddow notes the dramatic conversion from weapons factories to automobile, tractor, and refrigerator factories that followed World War II, but she does not propose such a conversion process now.

    Missing is resistance and conscientious objection. “War will exist,” wrote President John Kennedy, “until the distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.” That day grows more distant with books like Maddow’s. In “Drift,” everything warriors do is called “defense” (except with the Russians whose actions are called “strategic (aka offensive)”; when the troops do things they are “serving”; they are “patriotic”; and in times when the military becomes widely respected that is considered a positive development. Jim Webb is “an extraordinary soldier.” Soldiers in Vietnam “served honorably,” but sadly the military was “diminished” and the troops “demoralized.” Or is it de-moral-ized? Maddow fills out her book with dramatic accounts of Navy SEALs trying to invade Grenada that appear to have been included purely for the adventure drama or the pro-troopiness — although there’s always some SNAFU in such stories as well.

    • That’s an interesting review – although, having read it, I don’t quite get how he comes to the conclusion, that he’d ‘love for a hundred million Americans or so who never read books to read this one’. Must have to do with either: There are very few books on the subject? Or: Those that exist are of very poor quality?

  14. Rachel is smart and talented and likeable, but I could never listen to her the same way after she went in the tank for Obama in ’08, even while Hills was still very much in the race. The old resentment is hard to cut loose.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: