Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rachel Maddow's Book, "Drift," shows she is adrift

Rachel Maddow, the Democratic Party-line talking head on MSNBC has suddenly discovered that the USA goes to war at the drop of a hat and only a few people at the top are making the decisions behind closed doors. WHAT A SHOCK! How could this be happening after all these two hundred some years of following in the footsteps of the the drafters of the constitution which puts the military under civilian command and declarations of war in the hands of the House and Senate? This state of affairs isn't what Washington, Jefferson, Franklin et al had in mind. They would be really pissed.

A studious researcher, Maddow has learned that since Lyndon Johnson's war in Vietnam the founding father's strictures have been tossed out the window and we now have a system where decisions of war, life, death (Obama now personally sighs off on who will be summarily executed by drone attack), where troops are sent, etc. are made in secret by unaccountable heads of committees or agencies.

Since there's no conscription most people aren't affected by all of this and the government (whichever party is in power) does what it can to not clue in the populace of what is going on. Open debate, votes on declarations of war, the give and take of diplomacy, that's not happening anymore. How to right this wrong?

Maddow suggests restoring the balance between the executive and the legislative branches of government (take some power from the Presidency and give more to the House and Senate...somehow), banning private contractors like Blackwater from war making and having not so much secrecy. The odds of these things happening are, of course, slim to none. Why? Because Maddow's own fellow Democratic Party liberals are just as much gung-ho for permanent US warfare, and military bases being spread around the world, as any Republican. Also because everyone is on the take from the military-industrial complex among other businesses.

Maddow herself is adrift: untethered to reality. The USA has been an imperialist, predatory nation from the beginning. "Manifest Destiny" was the watchword for the march across the continent and the wiping out of the Indians; which begat the 1848 theft of half of Mexico, the 1898 war with Spain that led to planting the flag in Puerto Rico and Manilla; which presaged a revolving door of US military attacks and occupations in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and on and on morphing in more recent history to funding and using the local military and oligarchs to put US puppet governments in power (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, El Salvador among others). Then there is 1954 and reinstalling the Shah in Iran and then the overthrow of a democratically elected government in Guatamala, both of which were CIA capers. Democrats and Republicans collaborated on all of these interventions.

There is a seamless trail of US intervention in Vietnam from Truman,Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ and Nixon. The legislative branch has happily ceded it's warmaking powers to the executive. Sometimes there is a ritual of pseudo democracy to rubber stamp executive imperialism.

There is no "drift." There are a couple of centuries of policy: the US will dominate politically and economically whoever it can. If there's no submission, then send in the Marines, or in our higher tech world, the drones. Mark Twain could figure this out. He participated in the Anti-Imperialst League,which opposed the US war of conquest in the Philippines over 100 years ago. Maddow can't figure it out. The stark truth blows her whole rationale out of the water: the USA is good, good, good. But it makes mistakes that can be corrected...by Democrats.

The fact that Obama is far worse than Bush in committing war crimes and shredding democratic rights has escaped Maddow's notice.

Some commentators have suggested that the neo-cons and their obsession with supporting Israel at all costs are behind all this interventionism, at least in the mid-east. We can't point to The Weekly Standard or AIPAC as the motivating forces behind, say, the US marines occupation of Nicaragua from 1927 to 1933; but they have been enthused backers of the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and now Kenya and soon to be Mali.

The use of threats, bullying and military force is a longstanding tradition of the good ole' USA and the latest mid-east wars fit right in. You could say that AIPAC and the neo-cons make everything more reducto ad absurdum and shrill. Also they do hamper the use of more flexible tactics by US imperialism by their "Israel firstism." But in no way would US policy in the world be benign if they had no influence. This is a case of a falling out among thieves. The American people have no stake in what is euphemistically called our "National Interest." National Interest is a code word for the interests of banks, mulit-national corporations, and their political operatives in both parties.


  1. Great article. (First saw it on Mondoweiss). There's a lot of really superficial thinking out there in liberal land.

  2. Superb commentary! Could not agree more.

    My husband is reading a book right now called "American Holocaust." From his description to me, it outlines in detail the outrage of the European invasion of this continent and its underlying causes. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/History/American_Holocaust.html

    Maybe we should chip in and send Rachel a copy.

  3. Exactly... If Maddow were being as daring as Amy Goodman is on Democracy Now or Richard Congress is here, she would soon be deprived of that nice, cushy TV spot.

  4. Admirable common sense & historical savvy. The center of gravity of the US political system now lies midway between Wall Street & the Pentagon. Who's President is no longer important: all candidates' CVs are screened to ensure they have the same basic mindset. With organized labor globalized into oblivion, that last element of pluralism, never strong, vanished, the oligarchs basically run their conflicts in-house.

    Where to from here?

    Paul Ivory, Brisbane Australia