In her new book, Drift – The Unmooring of American Military Power, Rachel Maddow makes a clear and compelling case for how America has drifted away from the Constitutional checks and balances on American military power and we now exist in a situation where the executive has more power to use military force than ever before and the Congress has almost no power to stop them.
The book begins with an examination of the intention of the framers in purposely making it difficult to go to war and the deliberate decision to put the power to declare war firmly in the hands of the legislature and not in the hands of the executive, where it mostly rests today.
The narrative then goes on to examine, in detail, the historical examples of the erosion of the checks and balances against abuses of military power that Presidents Washington, Jefferson and Eisenhower all warned us about. From Vietnam, to Grenada to Bosnia to Iraq, the author goes into detail about how it has gotten dangerously easier for the President to take the US to war. The idea of a declared war now seems quaint and that is exactly the situation the framers feared we may stray into. The author also gives some steps to reconnecting the US military to the daily life of the American citizens. It would be painful, but that is exactly the point. War is supposed to be painful and inconvenient. That is the way the founding fathers wanted it.