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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power (2012)

by Rachel Maddow

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1,3487113,747 (4.14)45
Maddow shows how deeply militarized our culture has become--how the role of the national security sector has shape-shifted and grown over the past century to the point of being financially unsustainable and confused in mission.

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Kinda depressing. I didn't know much about the Reagan era political stuff beyond occasional vague jabs from Jon Stewart, so this was really informative there. The mishandling of nukes section was somewhat familiar to me but I didn't know it had been quite that bad with that many incidents. Military budgets are ridiculous. Also the military contractors with child sex slaves bit was new to me. I'm not really sure what I got out of reading this other than a worse impression of the world and the people in it, but hopefully it had/has some positive impact on policy makers. ( )
  stardustwisdom | Dec 31, 2023 |
I was expecting a book about the bi-partisan support of the military industrial complex, and the privatization of war. Honestly that was only a small portion of this book.

About 1/2 was about Reagan, 1/4 was about defense contracting, and privatization, and 1/4 of it was about the maintenance (or lack thereof) on the US nuclear warhead supply.

Don't get me wrong, I hate Reagan as much as the next guy, and I think he's the worst and most destructive president the US has had in the post-WWII era. But this book was too much. Literally half of the book was just explaining events from Reagan's presidency. It almost felt like it should have been its own book.

The book is extremely well researched, and Maddow is extremely well qualified to discuss the topic, but I'd be lying if I didn't mention that it definitely seemed a bit biased. She with an extremely snarky and disparaging tone when talking about events in the Bush/Reagan administration, and that negative tone seems largely absent when discussing some of the concerning topics in the Clinton/Obama era (still some snark though).

I definitely don't regret reading this, I think it was extremely informative, particularly regarding Iran-Contra, and the Cold War. But I'm not sure I'd recommend it due to some of the other issues I had with it. ( )
  Andjhostet | Jul 4, 2023 |
recommended by Sharabaugh
p. 55 " The Think Tanks and Very Important Committees of the permanent national security peanut gallery are now so mature and entrenched that almost no one thinks they're creepy anymore, national security liberals have simply decided it's best to add their own voices to them rather than criticize them."
I guess there is some bias here...

got a bit better, but still biased. ( )
  pollycallahan | Jul 1, 2023 |
Perfectly on point and told in Maddow's clear voice. What I appreciate more than anything is her ability to take problems which overwhelm me with frustration and hopelessness and approach them as both understandable and solvable. ( )
  Kiramke | Jun 27, 2023 |
I like all of Maddow's main points, and I agree with her general thesis (America has accidentally slipped into the very military-industrial complex we were warned about and this is undesirable and unsustainable). The book kind of read like a collection of newspaper articles without a narrative thread tying everything together, which made it hard to really dive into it. I found myself jumping around a lot. Still, if you're looking for more reasons to dislike the Bush-Cheney era, there's a lot to love in Drift. ( )
  bookwrapt | Mar 31, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
War, in Maddow's world, is not in need of abolition so much as proper execution, which sometimes means more massive and less hesitant execution. LBJ "tried to fight a war on the cheap," Maddow quotes a member of Johnson's administration as recalling. On the other hand, when Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf propose five or six aircraft carriers for the First War on Iraq, Maddow recounts that this "would leave naval power dangerously thin in the rest of the world." Dangerous for whom?
added by Lunar | editWar is a Crime, David Swanson (Apr 3, 2012)
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Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, becasue it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debt and taxes; and armies and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes and the opportunities of fraud growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could reserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

Those truths are well established. They are read in every page which records the progession from a less arbitrary to a more arbitrary government, or the transitions from a popular governmet to an aristocracy or monarchy.

-James Madison, "Political Observations," April 20, 1795
To former vice president Dick Cheney.  Oh, please let me interview you.
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In the little town where I live in Hampshire County, Massachusetts, we now have a "Public Safety Complex" around the corner from what used to be our hokey, Andy Griffith-esque fire station.
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Maddow shows how deeply militarized our culture has become--how the role of the national security sector has shape-shifted and grown over the past century to the point of being financially unsustainable and confused in mission.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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