“Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power” by Rachel Maddow

If you see me walking around wearing my headphones, chances are if I’m not listening to Blink-182, I’m listening to The Rachel Maddow Show podcast. Rachel Maddow is one of the brightest political commentators on cable news. Although she is quite liberal, her reporting and analysis is unparalleled in its fairness and adherence to facts. She gives coverage to stories not being reported by most outlets, particular to issues on veterans, war, and nuclear proliferation when she can. For a run down on the day-to-day political news, there is no better way to be up to date with current events than by following her.

Rachel’s book Drift was number one on the NYT best seller list for a time, and has received widespread praise from the political and news community. Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, is a critical examination of American military presence around the world and comparing that to how our military was originally setup in the constitution. The founding generation was terribly afraid of a standing army because of the allure that military campaigns have for aristocrats or power-hungry leaders. She then fast forwards to WWII, when we become a nuclear superpower. President Eisenhower infamously warned the United States in an address about the military industrial complex that threatens the fabric of American society. That fear was fully realized with President Reagan putting the military budget into Star Wars hyper drive, and since then, the mercenary and contractors now almost equal the amount of military personnel, we spend more money on our defense budget than the rest of the world combined, and we are becoming complacent to a state of perpetual war since 9/11 in which 1% of the American population now fights at all times with little sacrifice or understanding from the rest of the American public.

Rachel gives bipartisan critique to every administration since Vietnam for the radical change in military structure we have, including President Obama’s escalation of drone use by the CIA. She has harsh words for the war hawks who since the 80’s have built a budget for defense to fight the now non-existent Soviet Union, the same war hawks that with trillions weren’t able to pick up on the obvious collapse of the state. Our nuclear arsenal now sits in bunkers, rotting, prone to error and hazardous decomposition which costs insane amounts of money to upkeep.

Drift is loaded with satire and great humor like Rachel’s show, which keeps the book both informative and light while being very grim and serious about the issues facing civilians regarding our military and national security. At 250 pages, it’s a light read that isn’t bogged down by useless information. She closes with a tidy checklist summing up what she wants to be changed in the public sphere, and I would be surprised if there would be much objection from a vast majority of the population. Rachel’s point is there is a clear need to gouge the military budget in a smart way that will easily meet our military needs for the next century while bringing the American military back to its roots in function.

I would strongly recommend the book to anyone, especially those concerned with the state of our military in relation to the rest of our priorities.

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