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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

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Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Post by JoelKizz on Fri May 25, 2012 9:29 pm

My heart be still. Yes I read a book by Rachel Maddow. Yes it often smacked of hypocrisy in light of her other political views. However, if you can overlook the exorbitant amount of time she spends on demonizing Ronald Reagan in comparison to the other executives at power during the period she examines and other general political inconsistencies it is quite a good read. Well researched (although uniquely sourced), and well thought out in its delivery. If not sure you could read something by Her Majesty of the Left consider some of her closing suggestions and see if you don't agree with some of her suggestions:

• Going to war, being at war, should be painful for the entire country, from the start. Henceforth, when we ship the troops off to battle, let’s pay for it. War costs money. Lots and lots of money. Whenever we start a new one, we should raise the money to pay for it, contemporaneously. Taxes, war bonds, what-have-you. “Freedom isn’t free” shouldn’t be a bumper sticker—it should be policy.
• Let’s do away with the secret military. If we are going to use drones to vaporize people in Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia, the Air Force should operate those drones, and pull the trigger. And we should know about it. If the CIA is doing military missions, the agency needs to be as accountable as the military is, and the same goes for the policy makers giving them their orders. The chain of command should never be obscured by state secrets. Special Forces can be unconstrained and clandestine to the bad guys, but not to Congress.
• Let’s quit asking the military to do things best left to our State Department, or the Peace Corps or FEMA. And let’s please stop expecting military leaders to make judgments and decisions about policy. If presidential candidates talk about “deferring to military commanders” as to whether or not to bomb Iran, stand up and point at them and holler until they understand how backward they’ve got it. That’s got to stop. It’s no favor to the military, and it’s an affront to the Constitution.
• Our Guard and Reserves need to be the Guard and Reserves again, which is to say the institutions that weave civilian life and military life together. The life of a National Guardsman or Guardswoman should be mostly a peacetime, civilian life. When we ship these men and women off to war, civilian communities all over America should feel that loss.
• Let’s wind back the privatization of war and the military’s dependence on contractors for what used to be military functions. Our troops need to peel their own potatoes again, drive their own supply trucks, build their own barracks, guard their own generals. Enough with the LOGCAP boondoggle. Private contractors are not cheaper, and they are certainly not indispensable. We operated without them for a long, long time, and did just fine, thank you very much. And when private contractors on our payroll commit illegal acts, like statutory rape, or murder, or outright fraud, they should be prosecuted, not given more contracts.
• If all those Team B cranks in the hawk nest want to indulge in exhaustive paranoia, they can knock themselves out. But the rest of us should try to keep it together. We can cede their point that the world is a threatening place. We can cede their point that the US military is a remarkable and worthy fighting force. But we ought to realize by now (see Korea, see Vietnam, see Afghanistan, see Iraq, see Iran) that deploying the US military, or dealing billions of dollars a year of arms to our ally of the moment that can serve as a regional rival to our enemy of the moment, is not always the best way to make threats go away. Our military and weapons prowess is a fantastic and perfectly weighted hammer, but that doesn’t make every international problem a nail.
• Let’s ensure that our nuclear infrastructure shrinks to fit our country’s realistic nuclear mission. Let’s decide exactly what we mean to deter with our nukes, and expend just exactly what we need to do that. There’s a cost to keeping these chemistry experiments lying around for decades. Let’s up the way-too-slow decommissioning process and shrink our nuclear inventory before another pylon of live missiles goes walkies.
• And finally, there’s the Gordian knot of executive power. It needs a sword something fierce. The glory of war success will always attach itself to the president, so presidents are always going to be prey to the temptation to make war. That’s a generic truth of power, and all the more reason to take decision making about war out of the hands of the executive. It is not one man’s responsibility. The “imperial presidency” malarkey that was invented to save Ronald Reagan’s neck in Iran-Contra, and that played as high art throughout the career of Richard Cheney, is a radical departure from previous views of presidential power, and it should be taught and understood that way. This isn’t a partisan thing—constitutionalists left and right have equal reason to worry over the lost constraint on the executive.

I would love to hear others thoughts on the book.




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Re: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Post by XianSmitherman on Sat May 26, 2012 9:42 pm

Some good ideas, but I totally lol'd at the second bullet point. A secret military will always be needed because there will always be things that need to be done that the average person can't stomach to hear about.

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Re: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

Post by JoelKizz on Sat May 26, 2012 9:56 pm

XianSmitherman wrote:Some good ideas, but I totally lol'd at the second bullet point. A secret military will always be needed because there will always be things that need to be done that the average person can't stomach to hear about.

Yeah I think she is not as much referring to secret operations as much as entire branches of government operating as military when they have no Congressional authority to do so. She really shows a lot of respect for Constitutional and Congressional authority in the book. Surprising, because I honestly don't understand how she can justify some of her other positions through the same spectrum of principle.

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