Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A book about America drifting toward continual military engagement.
A good book but in telling the tale it meanders around in a somewhat anecdotal fashion.
First there was the founding father's intention to make war something difficult to pursue, especially by the president. But as time marches on the country grows accustomed to war to the point that the state of war becomes a habit.
Except it was actually pulled back after the Vietnam war with the War Powers acts restricting presidential use of force and the Abram doctrine of setting things up so any military action will require the American people be invested in the adventure.
Amazingly things change and after some pretty sensible talk by Carter, then come Reagan and things start to change in the other direction. A fair amount of the books involves recounting Reagan's sales pitch to increase military spending. Pretty depressing stuff since it is mostly based on lies, exaggeration and such.
For example there were completely wrong statements of US vs Soviet military strength and then John Wayne was so incensed about his lies about the Panama Canal treaty (not about war but about American might)...
"Even after John Wayne sent Reagan a private and personal note offering to shoe him 'point by goddamn point int the treaty where you are misinforming people'...Ronald Reagan doubled down." Pg 33
And as president he makes a dramatic speech about a WWI solder buried at Arlington Cemetery where a patriotic and inspiring diary was found on his corpse. Long story short, all lies and Reagan was told about it but went ahead with the speech.
Then there is the quote to justify his Iran Contra actions where he quotes Lenin, except Lenin nobody cant find where he said it except for the reference in a John Birch society book from a Russian who was 3 years old when Lenin died.
Well...it goes on and on. Basically Reagan was a liar of amazing regularity in order to grow the military, And it is a one way ratchet pushing to ever higher levels.
I suppose I get hung up on the out and out lying stuff more than I should, since later presidents managed to achieve the same goal but with less obvious deception (why lie when you can just redefine what true actually means). And in a way the lies are really just a small means to an end, so why should the means bother me more than the end? I suppose it is just that Reagan is so deified now and nobody else points out that he was full of it, and I am just a neurotic contrarian.
I need to just let it go. Really I do.
So it paints a sad picture of a people willing to be manipulated, especially when it has little cost to them.
Yeah, it is all bad.
I need a drink.
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