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Matthews: 'Drift' presents 'sharp argument' against America's war habit

Let me finish tonight with this.Rachel Maddow, my colleague here on msnbc, has just published a sharp argument against the modern American propensity to make wa

Let me finish tonight with this.

Rachel Maddow, my colleague here on msnbc, has just published a sharp argument against the modern American propensity to make war.

It makes a brisk case that this country's leaders--men of the right--have made it easier to fight not just bite-sized wars like Grenada, but even lengthy, even grand engagements by manipulating the way we the citizenry are kept from the pain and therefore, predictably, from the interest that war once drove in the larger population.

In her book Drift, she ticks off the painkillers which together create the delusion of peace even in the presence of war's reality. She tells how we know there are wars going on abroad but do not feel that knowledge of the life-and-death struggles being carried out by the United States.

Congress doesn't formally "declare" war. It manages to appropriate the money, not through the same budgetary rigor, but in so-called "emergency" spending which has long ago become both routine and untouchable.

We fight wars with the help of private contractors who do work once done by soldiers in uniform. We kill terrorists by drone strikes rather than close engagements. For years we kept the TV cameras from the entry point at Dover, Delaware for the fallen returning home. We've created a volunteer army to replace conscription.  

Together, each of these steps has separated the conduct and horror of war from the main population. To subtract even further, presidents like George W. Bush have offered up wartime tax breaks to ensure that no one gets the idea that wars cost money.  

I think Rachel Maddow's book needs to be read by everyone who watches Hardball because it is exactly the kind of argument that makes this show work at its best. It takes apart the current argument by opening up history. It shows the pattern of behavior that keeps people from seeing the situation four-square: we do not see what we are doing because there are those who don't want us to see it. They want us to keep on doing what they want us to do, and thinking too much about it might get in the way.  

Watch Chris's interview with Rachel Maddow about Drift here.