Excerpts from Rachel Maddow’s “Drift,” part II

Rachel Maddow

I recently finished reading Rachel Maddow’s book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power. I highly recommend all read this book, as Maddow lays out systematically how far US militarism has drifted from the nation’s origins. This is the second post of excerpts from the book. These aren’t a systematic outlining of Maddow’s argument, but merely passages that I found particularly compelling. I encourage all to reflect on them, as our nation figures out how to reject this permanent, profitable war-making state we’re in and turn towards a peaceful co-existence with the world.

“Ignoring the founders’ loud and explicit warning that we should not allow one person to unilaterally take us to war has been demonstrably bad for this country.” [p.147]

“…it was common practice among the contract workers at Comanche to buy themselves live-in sex slaves from the local Serbian mafia…

“The Army lawyers had told military investigators that neither Bosnian law nor US law applied to the contractors, so the Department of Defense had no authority to prosecute any crimes private contract workers committed over [in the Balkans], and therefore no responsibility for them either. Thank God…

“So how did we get to the place where private American citizens representing us — men whose salaries were paid by the US government — could cut this greasy, lawless swath through the Balkans with no real consequences for the criminals, or for DynCorp itself?” [p. 165-167]

“The CIA now functions as a military force beyond the accountability that the United States has historically demanded of its armed services. The CIA doesn’t officially acknowledge the drone program, let alone provide public explanation about who shoots and who dies, and by what rules…

“Having a secret military force with no visible chain of command, or recognizable rules of behavior or engagement, has become a most useful thing.” [p. 197-198]

“[From an intelligence source] ‘If there’s one person they’re going after and there’s thirty-four people in the building, thirty-five people are going to die. That’s the mentality…They’re not accountable to anybody and they know that.'” [p. 201-202]

“With tax cuts in wartime, with no sense of collective national sacrifice on behalf of the war effort, with less than 1 percent of the American population taking up arms to fight, with US casualties politically and literally shielded from public view, the cumulative effect was to normalize our national wartime. We’ve become a nation ‘at peace with being at war,’ in the words of the New York Times media critic David Carr.” [p. 246]

“This isn’t bigger than us. Decisions about national security are ours to make…We just need to revive that old idea of America as a deliberatly peaceful nation. That’s not simply our inheritance, it’s our responsibility.” [p. 252]


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