(Reposted from Open Salon)
If you can establish the calibre of a person by the inanity, pettiness and stupidity of their critics then Rachel Maddow is top shelf, high gauge and first rate. And I have to confess it was the venom, vitriol and bile that accompanied comments regarding Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power that prompted me to read it. I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s no secret that Maddow leans left but this book is a fair an equitable treatment. No one escapes scrutiny here….she doesn’t shirk from exposing Johnson, Clinton and Obama right along with Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush 1, Bush 2 and Cheney.
Drift is astute, intelligent and meticulously researched. This is an important book about how apathy and ignorance of the clandestine machinations of US wars is shrinking our democracy and our freedoms, undermining our Constitution and pretty much making us an Evil Empire on par with the Death Star and the helmeted storm troopers from the Dark Side in Star Wars. It is written by someone who has not only read the Constitution but has studied it and who has not only studied it but understands it. This is as good as investigative writing gets. It’s not an hysterical rant from some paranoid ideologue or a mudslinging diatribe from a partisan hack. Maddow delves into issues crucial to our nation and exposes some very scary stuff.
Drift conjures up the old bayou folk analogy of how to cook a frog. You put it cold water and gradually turn up the heat until it’s blissfully unaware of the fact that it’s being boiled alive. And so it is with America’s involvement in war. I suppose it doesn’t even occur to us now that a war going on as long as ten years is unusual…until we stop and have a look at the wars before Vietnam.
World War 2 lasted barely four years and we fought it on two fronts. But we were all involved then. Women worked in the factories, and many who missed the draft, joined up. People willingly sacrificed and went without for the war effort. Gas and other commodities were rationed and few complained. Imagine that happening now days? We have fallen from grace since the Greatest Generation, the nobel war to squash Fascism and the establishment of the Marshall Plan. We’ve been in free fall since Vietnam and unless we do something about it we will hit bottom and splatter in the rotting ooze of our own mess.
An image from the book haunts me as a metaphor for the rampant greed, selfishness and immorality of the private sectors role in our wars….
See this helicopter mechanic provided by the Corporate Private Sector when our troops were in Bosnia. He weighs over 400 pounds and the pocket of his overalls is stuffed with a cheeseburger. He is so incompetent that at he falls asleep regularly while on the job. On one such occasion he falls asleep with a blow torch in his hand and burns a hole through the shell of a helicopter. While in Serbia he purchases a sex slave from the Serbian mafia. She’s a fourteen year old child. He loves to brag about his possession to any that will listen. If the child doesn’t behave, do what he wants her to, why hell, he’ll just trade her in on another. Fat Boy wasn’t alone. The Serbian mafia had a lucrative market with American civilians employed by the private sector.
Welcome to a whole new level of Ugly American.
This is our image. This is what we’ve become. This is the growing stench we carry as Americans.
Drift is a stone thrown in the still waters of a pond. Once read the ripples keep on coming. Let’s hope this book gets the readership it deserves and let’s hope those readers are as moved and as angry as I am. And that we are moved to do something about senseless wars we wage at the expense of our education system, our health system and our society and to the benefit of those private contractors who have become the only winners regardless whether America wins or loses.
The Evil Empire has emerged and it is us.