On March 29, 2012 Rachel Maddow went on Jon Stewart’s show to promote her new book: “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power”. Stewart teased her for being a poor saleswoman, but I was flabbergasted at the allegedly “boring” title:
I could hardly believe it.
You see, at the time, I was reading George Friedman’s “The Next Decade: Empire and Republic in a Changing World”. Friedman asserts that the USA didn’t set out to become a global military empire, but rather that the empire just sort of naturally unfolded along with our economic power.
And Maddow makes the same assertion: that we just sort of “drifted” into empire.
That’s what I have dubbed the “Accidental Empire” meme.
What’s fascinating is that George Friedman is an enthusiastic booster of global military empire, and Rachel Maddow wants to dismantle a huge chunk of the military.
And there they are singing from the same hymn book. Propagating the same imperial meme. How is that possible?
Right off the bat in her book, Maddow writes:
“It’s not a conspiracy, there aren’t rogue elements pushing us to subvert our national interests to instead serve theirs.”
And at the 3:10 mark of the Jon Stewart interview, she dismisses the entire idea of conspiracy:
“…conspiracy is easier to understand than understanding the complexity…”
However, Maddow doesn’t put forth any support for her view. And the evidence of conspiracy is pretty impressive. Is it possible that Maddow is unaware of President Eisenhower’s famous warning about the military-industrial complex? No, it’s not possible. She knows. But she chose to ignore someone with first-hand experience.
A five-star army general.
The Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.
And Maddow only mentions him, in passing, a few times in her book?
You would think that Maddow would feel the need to make a case for Eisenhower being senile, or paranoid as a side-effect of some prescription medicine. Or she could argue that Eisenhower was only warning us, that his dire prediction never came to pass, that there was a happy ending after all, and joyous elves rode prancing unicorns through fields of wildflowers as a gentle rain of puppy dogs fell from the sky.
But she does not.
During the Arab Spring, as President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Mubarak to resign, the Pentagon rushed riot gear to Mubarak’s thugs. Who was really making foreign policy there? Were our civilian leaders just kibitzers? There are numerous such instances that should be investigated, but rest assured, you won’t find them in Maddow’s book.
For example, maybe Maddow could have debunked Jesse Ventura’s story about how he was called on the carpet by the CIA after being elected governor of Minnesota in 1999:
Ironically, Maddow may be right; that it’s not a conspiracy. Perhaps we have already gone beyond the point of conspiracy to fait accompli. On March 30th, Leon Panetta said that Congress was a threat to the USA:
“What they essentially did is put a gun to their heads and the heads of the country.”
Was that from an angry exchange during a Congressional budget hearing? No, it was not. It was, in fact, a speech to sailors and marines aboard the USS Peleliu. How far are we from having the Pentagon arrest Congress on grounds of national security?
Maybe not so far.
But Maddow’s book isn’t about the workings of the empire. It’s mostly a partisan polemic, with loads of Ronald-Reagan bashing. For example, Maddow devotes page-after-page outlining every detail of Reagan’s invasion of Grenada, but zero pages to Bill Clinton’s bombing of civilian targets in Serbia, or Kennedy’s “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba. Maddow’s fanaticism is so rabid that she even wrote this:
“Reagan was enveloped by the glorious success of the first war of his presidency…”
…as if Reagan invaded more countries, which he did not. There were plenty of military incidents such as bombing Moammar Gadhafi, but no actual wars. Now I don’t blame Maddow for writing a partisan book. After all, there is no demand for truth, but a huge demand for partisanship. When the choir demands preaching, you had better preach if you want to be their leader.
If you want to actually learn about the workings of our empire, you should start with “Blowback” by Chalmers Johnson. And George Friedman’s book, which I mentioned above, is about the geo-political strategy that the empire deploys to keep the world subdued. Friedman also discusses the important question of whether or not our Republic can survive the empire, while Maddow doesn’t even mention the subject.
If I were the secret military dictator of America, the first thing I would do would be to write up a list of talking points and send it out to my propagandists on both the right and the left. High on the list would be: “put a happy face on the empire; tell them that it was an accident, and that we are making the best of it.”
But short of that, you can see how both Friedman and Maddow would want to protect and flatter the empire with self-generated propaganda. Does Friedman want to be secretary of state someday? Probably so. Does Maddow aspire to secretary of defense? Sure, why not? Al Franken went from goof to gravitas.
Maybe Friedman and Maddow are independently apprehending what it takes to land an imperial appointment. And of course, Maddow works for the military-industrial complex, so we can’t really expect her to bite the hand that feeds. Maddow has a show on MSNBC which is owned by General Electric, which is a defense contractor.
If I knew that Maddow was a CIA agent, I certainly wouldn’t say so since that’s against the law, and this post would just be a lucky guess.
And I wouldn’t complain about the empire so much if it were a profit-making enterprise. Napoleon collected taxes from the lands he conquered:
“Napoleon’s campaigns of 1806–7 were not only self-financing, but covered at least a third of ordinary French government expenditure.”
That’s from Niall Ferguson’s book “Civilization” (at Kindle Locations 3261-3262.) Unfortunately, the costs of our empire are bankrupting us.
Note: Chalmers Johnson did some work for the CIA; teaching them about Japan, on which he was an expert. Johnson says that it was a brief consulting gig. And the CIA is supposed to know about other countries as opposed to who is governor of Minnesota.
Note: Donald Rumsfeld used to fly around in an airplane as big as Air Force One. The Pentagon used to operate a huge fleet of private jets until Chalmers Johnson shamed them into toning it down.
Note: Here is the New York Times review of Maddow’s book. “Too smart-alecky” indeed.
Note: Here’s a story about how General Electric muzzles the journalists in its employ.
Note: At 6:10 into the video above John Stewart congratulates Maddow for writing a non-partisan book, which proves that he didn’t read it.
Note: I’m not entirely opposed to the Pentagon arresting Congress. It is, after all, a den corrupt vipers. And authoritarian regimes like that of Singapore aren’t much worse than what we have now.