The recent Christmas Day attempted terrorist attack has once again raised the proverbial red flags in question of the nation’s domestic safety. Amongst heightened fears comes a report from a commission to analyze U.S. defense mechanisms and proposed responses to an attack threatening national security. The report rates a variety of areas in its rubric, but most shockingly (or perhaps not so), the government earned a failing grade in its efforts against bioterrorism.
Other failing areas, according to the heads of the commission, Sens. Bob Graham and Jim Talent, included congressional oversight and expert training for future members involved in national security. While these areas are certainly important, there are other conditions to consider. First, the cost of increasing training and security apparatuses like full body scanners in airports is both intangible and bordering on infringement of civil liberties, or at least so the debate claims. More so, even though the National Security and Homeland Security councils received passing grades, there are still threats.
Without contributing an overarching portion of the national budget (one already mired in debt that appears unlikely to subside) and compromising time, efficiency and privacy for security, the threat will remain. One must then consider the source of the issue. As the U.S. continues to expand its influence abroad, it comes into contact with a variety of cultures and different perspectives. The inability to contend with these has led to rather murky situations, especially in active missions in the Middle East.
As efforts are further supported and troop numbers continue to be increased, distrust in the region continues to grow. By continued action in this arena, the U.S. has begun to vilify itself, providing a platform from which extremist groups can profess the need to confront this “evil, hegemonic imperialism.” Though the issue is certainly divisive, it seems that everyone is wishing for a swift, but victorious end. Herein lies the problem. The U.S. has often viewed itself in a paternal image (this is obviously generalized, but widely true).
This is not a negative condition, for it leads to expansive aid, support and heroic humanistic ventures. However, because of its strong economic and militaristic history and reputation, it has also garnered the inherent responsibility as regulatory force. This second attribute has derived itself from both an internal feeling of entitlement and an external respect and admiration.
Unfortunately, once again, the U.S. has over-extended itself. It is most obvious now, as troop fatalities continue abroad and the economic situation continually swirls downward (or at least the general perception believes it to be doing this). While a third concern of national security arises, perhaps it is time to direct our attention to ourselves. The U.S. is a strong country and rests on pillars of freedom and the capacity, in the theory, for everyone to succeed through perseverance, ingenuity and hard work. It is time to revitalize ourselves. In order to do so, it would be best to allocate the budget for national defense elsewhere. Already the highest spending nation on the military, we could easily redistribute our influence into a concentrated effort on preventing future attacks. Additionally, by withdrawing troops from the Middle East, all of the finger-pointing from extremist factions would cease as evidence to support their claims dissipated. Though this seems like an overly simplistic solution, it provides a response to yet another concern for U.S. citizens. Perhaps the provocation of this report card will provoke an answer that will provide for American safety both in the domestic sphere and abroad.
Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.