Rachel Maddow: How America's Security-Industrial Complex Went Insane
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If no one knows if it’s making us safer, why have we built it? Why are we still building it, at breakneck speed? Liberty Crossing is slated to almost double in size over the next decade. Remember the fierce debate in Congress over whether or not it’s worth it to do that? No? Me neither. But we keep building it. We keep chugging along.
National security is a real imperative for our country—for any country. But the connection between that imperative and what we do about it has gone as frowsy as my hometown’s little pump station in high August. Our national security policy isn’t much related to its stated justifications anymore. To whatever extent we do argue and debate what defense and intelligence policy ought to be, that debate—our political process—doesn’t actually determine what we do. We’re not directing that policy anymore; it just follows its own course. Which means we’ve effectively lost control of a big part of who we are as a country. And we’ve broken faith with some of the best advice the founders ever gave us.
Our constitutional inheritance didn’t point us in this direction. If the colonists hadn’t rejected British militarism and the massive financial burden of maintaining the British military, America wouldn’t exist. The Constitutional Convention debated whether America should even have a standing army. The founders feared that maintaining one would drain our resources in the same way that maintaining the eighteenth-century British military had burdened the colonies. They worried that a powerful military could rival civilian government for power in our new country, and of course they worried that having a standing army around would create too much of a temptation to use it. Those worries about the inevitable incentives to war were part of what led to the division of government at the heart of our Constitution, building into the structure of our new country a deliberate peaceable bias.
But in the past generation or two, we’ve drifted off that historical course. The steering’s gone wobbly, the brakes have failed. It’s not a conspiracy, there aren’t rogue elements pushing us to subvert our national interests to instead serve theirs. It’s been more entertaining and more boneheaded than that.
The good news is we don’t need a radical new vision of post–Cold War American power. We just need a “small c” conservative return to our constitutional roots, a course correction. This book is about how and why we’ve drifted. It wasn’t inevitable. And it’s fixable.
Copyright © 2012 Rachel Maddow From the book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission. Click here for a copy.