Customer Reviews: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power
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on March 29, 2012
Rachel Maddow has a gift. She has a talent for breaking complicated subjects down into manageable segments. She is articulate, insightful and quirky - a combination that works well in explaining difficult subjects. You may not agree with her politics, but at the end of this book, you will know more about the business of war in the modern world economy. And that is a gift in itself.
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on April 1, 2012
Congress shall have the power: "To declare War..." That statement in the United States Constitution seems clear enough, yet it has been honored in the breach almost from the beginning of our Republic. But, until the middle of the twentieth century, the undeclared wars were relatively minor examples of a growing nation flexing its muscles, and could be dismissed as simply "incursions", not worthy of being dignified as wars. The Korean War and then, even more effectively, the Vietnam War put paid to even that shibai. And, according to Maddow, Ronald Regan became the chief grave digger to bury this principle, joined later and enthusiastically by Bushes I and II, Clinton, and now Obama. She spends many pages on the Great Communicator because she shares neither the right's view that he is deserving of a place on Mt. Rushmore nor the left's view that Regan was suffering from incipient Alzheimer's from his earliest days in office. According to her, and she presents a great deal of supporting evidence, Regan deliberately misled the Congress with the full intent of prosecuting a war--this time on a miniscule Grenada--in order to avoid any war-declaration foolishness. From then on, and with his actions as an example, it was a simple matter for presidents to slide into the wars of their choice, from Iraq, to Yugoslavia, to Afghanistan, to Iraq once again, to Libya, and eventually to Pakistan, Iran and other destinations. A few bombings of yet other nations also occurred in the meantime. The documentation is there. She cites it at length, though it's already all in the public domain. But it's nice to have it all together here, and spelled out in detail. Add to all that, new armies of mercenaries, wars with no firm goals in mind, and an American public lulled into acquiescence because the costs are put off into some distant future. This is a remarkable book that should be read along with Peter Van Buren's "We Meant Well" to see how badly we botched the meaningless enterprise in Iraq, something which we are now repeating in Afghanistan.
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on April 5, 2012
Many in this country can be forgiven if they have not been aware that there have been two wars fought simultaneously during the last ten years. After all only a tiny segment of Americans have fought those wars and who have have been deployed numerous times. During this time income taxes have been reduced; and during this time our government has outsourced more war related task than ever before. For something as egregious as war we, as a nation, have been insulated from it.

This seems to bother Rachel Maddow; truly it should bother us all. How this state of insulation came about is what Rachel Maddow's book is about. It blames no one party; it ascribes no nefarious plot; it just carefully relates how this sorry state of affairs came about.

Those viewers of Maddow on MSNBC will recognize her voice in the writing and will see her trademark extraordinary research.

She suggests, rightly I think, that it is dangerous for a country to become comfortable with endless war. This makes the flippant one star reviews posted all the more disturbing. To be sure some may disagree with her premise but if they do they should make their case regarding how endless war is a good thing or where real substantive issues are inaccurate. But they do not. It is clear they are rating their feelings about Maddow and not about the book. Ignore the one star reviews; they are written by dishonest people.

The issue is extremely serious and I applaud Maddow for bringing it up. This is an important book.
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on April 6, 2012
Very fitting that I read this book as I was waiting to greet President Obama as he visited Atlanta, Georgia on a fundraising trip.
As I transition inside "the bubble" and waited for POTUS (President of the United States) I was struck of all the layers of security that encompass this institution that revolved around one individual, the President.
In Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow, the author takes the reader through a history of the evolution of the current military industrial complex. More importantly how this military has somehow disconnected from the American psyche. There was a time not so long ago that most Americans worried about the dough boys across the pond as they fought for freedom. Today, when the war against Iraq came to an end, it was only blip on the national screen. No parades, spontaneous celebrations, or large commemorations.
The book also delves into how many of the duties once held by the military have been transferred to private firms. The United States is no doubt the leader of the free world, but what is our duty to use that power? Should we or are we required to be the world's police?
This though provoking book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, is a amazing analysis of the current state of American military power.
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on March 28, 2012
I always read the pros and cons on here prior to reading any book. I haven't finished reading and frankly am surprised that others read this book in one day. I suspect some have written negative for that sake.

This is a good read and Rachel did her homework and did get input from others when writing. It is always important that every book written is open to interpretation this one no different. For her first book, this one Maddow got right.
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on March 30, 2012
Chills went up and down my spine for weeks in 2009 as I read Barbara Moran's The Day We Lost the H-Bomb: Cold War, Hot Nukes, and the Worst Nuclear Weapons Disaster in History; the story of how the US Air Force had lost some H-bombs over Palomares, Spain in 1966. But I had managed to put those horrible thoughts away-- stopped worrying and learned to love the bomb, believing that the US government had certainly somehow managed to get better control over its nuclear arsenal since then. Now, in a chapter called "An $8 Billion Fungus Among Us." Rachel is telling us that we still don't have those weapons under control and our scientists can't even remember the formula for Fogbank, the stuff we used to get the H-bombs to explode on cue. To make matters worse, it does not seem to be precise in our constitution who may or may not have his/her/Xe's finger on the trigger of those weapons.
Rachel makes it clear that the way we go to war has changed: that there has been an expansion of presidential power, a collapse of Congressional backbone and this is an important point. Still, I am not entirely sure that it would be better for the American people to have its dysfunctional congress with war powers either. Decisions in the Senate would be filibustered (Tarantino'ed) to block whatever the President wants done and we know Speaker Boehner can't get anything passed by the House. So one might not want to wait for their decision to take out North Korea. Then again, would we want John "bomb, bomb Iran" McCain, Sarah "Russia from my window", Condi "first strike" Rice, or Michele "Iran is going to partition Iraq" Bachmann with their itchy fingers on the trigger?
One can only hope that this book will begin a meaningful debate in the USA as to how and why we go to war. Rachel has put forward a clear argument -- a sustained, lucid case in which points are made logically and backed by evidence and reason that shows where we have come militarily (at least in my lifetime). In her final chapter she makes some good points as to where we should be going.
I am willing to bet that almost no one in the reading audience would have made the connection between the houbara bustard and Osama Bin Laden before reading her chapter "One Hell of a Killing Machine."
Richard Stampfle
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on April 5, 2012
I was pleasantly surprised by Maddow's book. While I often find that her television show has become too "liberal good, conservative bad," Ms. Maddow laid the groundwork and steps us through her points to show that our military has experienced a drift. While I think she might have expanded on Homeland Security, I throw my vote in with those who applaud the book, for the reasons those reviewers so eloquently stated. I was alive to hear Eisenhower's warning about the military industrial complex, and Maddow shows clearly that his warning was prophetic. The book was well written; I read it over two evenings and found it compelling, entertaining and informative. I recommend this book to anyone concerned about the state of our country in general and with it's military direction specifically.
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on April 7, 2012
First let me say that I am a huge fan of Rachel Maddow. I think her's is one of the most important voices for reason and rationalism in America today. She has a knack for finding and pointing out problems that have escaped the notice of others and explaining them in a way everyone can understand.

Her new book, "Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power" is another example of her talent. In it she exposes and explains the decades-long transition of America from a peaceful nation to one that is almost constantly at war. President after president (of both parties) have added to their executive authority and their ability to send our troops into combat without permission from Congress or debate by the American people. Congress has steadily abdicated its own responsibility in reining in presidential overreach, and the American people, insulated from making any sacrifice, has allowed this to go on without protest.

Her book details how this all happened. How president's got around the War Powers Act, how they bullied Congress with terrifying threat analyses, how they avoided the draft by using private contractors, How many operations are conducted in secret away from public sight, and how no one tried to stop them.

Ms. Maddow chronicles it all in chilling, infuriating, (and sometimes amusing) detail. She also provides a 'to do list' to show us how to get out of this mess and return us to the nation the Framers envisioned. This is a remarkable accomplishment on her part.

However, it is not a perfect book. There are some missing pieces. She starts (pretty much) with the Reagan presidency and his obsession with the Soviet Menace and the paranoid delusions of his "Team B" analysts. She ignores the Bay of Pigs fiasco under Kennedy and the successful covert operation in Guatemala under Eisenhower, which inspired the Bay of Pigs. Iran-Contra is by no means our first secret war. And she also ignores the fact that there was a real Soviet threat in the early 1980s. It wasn't just all in Reagan's mind. There's not one word in her book about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. This was a real threat and it raised visions of the Soviets finally accomplishing the centuries-old Russian dream of a warm-water port on the Indian Ocean--a place to base the blue-water navy they were building at a furious pace. The old Great Game between Britain and Russia revived.

But these missing pieces do not invalidate Ms. Maddow's basic argument. That is still sound and something every American should read and think about.

Well done, Rachel!
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on March 29, 2012
Rachael Maddow does a fine job of explaining how the Military Industrial Complex now eats up a quarter of Federal spending at the expense of our Children and grandchildren. Now with too many Generals, armored vehicles, Carrier's and Bombers, lobbyists representing Defense interests will warn of a hollow military and weakened defense industrial base.

Our DOD Base Budget is 530.5 525.4 Widely reported by the press as the "base" DOD budget, and our Overseas Contingency Operations 115.1 88.5, add to that DOE/Nuclear (Total) 18.5 19.4, International Affairs (Total) 61.3 69.8 Includes $8.2 billion in OCO for Budget Function 150. The OCO grand total is $96.7 billion.

Veterans Affairs (Total) 124.6 137.7 This spending encompasses the effects of past and current wars; spending for veterans of the last ten years will be increasing dramatically in coming years.

Homeland Security (Total) 46.0 46.3 Includes HS spending in DHS and all federal agencies not shown on this summary.

Subtotal of the Above 928.7 930.6 Total Federal Spending is $3.8 trillion in outlays in 2012 and 2013.

This totals an alarming 24% of net Interest on the Debt 57.4 63.7 The outlays of the above programs comprise 25.5% and 25.7% of total federal outlays for 2012 and 2013.


Bravo Rachael Maddow for adding humor to this dire situation. The only way out of this death spiral is for term limits that discourage a cozy relationships based on campaign contributions and non contributing defense jobs.
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on March 29, 2012
Despite what some of her fans might have wanted, Rachel has once again proved herself the Rhodes Scholar of the current political media figures and decides to write a REAL book with a focused thesis. Excellent. I can understand negative reviews in the sense that the humor she (in my opinion) sprinkles into her arguments does reveal her own political leanings. That being said, the point she is making cannot be written off no matter what your political leanings.

If you don't agree with her on her television show, BUT you have a brain you'll still get a lot out of this book. If you, however, are a Fox News sheep and refuse to do your own thinking....well...what are you doing reading books? Any of reviews that have been written thus far are from people who have not read this book, or if they have they actively choose to not live in the world that exists.

I just wish there were more intellectuals writing focused books about topics that aren't discussed in our politically divided country.
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