Insecurity (May 4, 2010)

National Security

What do Arizona’s new immigration law, the BP oil spill off the Gulf Coast, South Park, President Ahmadenijad of Iran’s address to the UN, and the weekend bombing attempt in Times Square, all have in common? Well according to this blogger, these are all issues which expose the weaknesses of our national security. Until recently, I have not paid the attention to this overarching issue that it deserves. I have spent time chasing the “sexier” topics of elections, banking reform, the economy and the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell,” but national security is not a conversation so easily digestible. It is slippery, hard to pin down, and for that reason I believe, fails at times to hold the notice of myself and other Americans.

But in truth, most issues facing the U.S. today can be directly correlated to some national security concern. We can’t just wait for catastrophes like 9/11, Shoe Bombers, or Christmas Day granny panty wearers from Yemen, to make us focus. The cluster of current events which I mention above are a live testament to this truth in the following ways:

1. Arizona went rogue and created its own immigration laws, in part, because there has been inadequate response to protecting our borders at the Federal level. I am in no way defending the plan the State came up with, but there is a real sense of frustration out there on both sides of the political aisle, and across the nation. Obama has quite the full plate right now, but we need to prioritize reform. Or one day, it won’t be just jobseekers hopping the fence, but sinister people who have figured out that our porous boundaries are a great way to do us harm.

2. The BP oil spill, and the company’s completely lackluster response to stopping and cleaning up the leak, does a lot more than harken us back to the Exxon Valdez disaster of the late 80s. It creates more chaos in an already vulnerable region – highlighting the downside to remaining an oil-dependent nation. The lost oil supplies damage our environment, and leave us more prone to remain under the thumb of “black gold” – rich Middle East nations.

3. Which brings me to South Park and the Times Square bombing plot. Recently, in honor of the show’s 200th episode, creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker did an irreverent sendup of the Muslim religion by depicting the Prophet Mohammed – in disguise. Nothing is safe with these guys, and anyone with a sense of humor ought to know that. Jon Stewart and myself were more than a little miffed when Comedy Central chose to censor the episode without the creators’ consent. And I maintain that free speech requires more bravery than the network showed. But then…..Faisal Shahzad drove a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder loaded with amateur explosives into Manhattan and parked it guess where? Very close to Comedy Central’s New York headquarters.

4. And finally we have President Ahmadenijad of Iran, an asshat of epic proportions. I am glad that 95% of the world can come together to agree on that. But since UN headquarters are located in the U.S. (and again in Manhattan – poor folks), we have to deal with the indignity of letting this man deplane and tread on our land, so he can spout the garbage that spews from his hate filled mouth. Yesterday, reports had it that Iran’s leader attempted to escalate the nation’s “nuclear showdown” with the U.S., even with the looming threat of economic sanctions. As long as this man remains in power in Iran, no one is safe. Walkouts from his fiery rhetoric won’t accomplish anything – not with a man who violently puts down civilian protests at home.

As stated at the opening of this post, I am no national security expert, and do not have any good ideas for a comprehensive plan to ensure the protection of our nation and its citizens. I just think it’s pretty clear that we need one. Like 10 years ago. Up to now, we look like the proverbial boat that started springing leaks in the late 1990s, with nothing more durable to plug them up than a cork here and there. Corks pop, and the sounds I’ve been hearing when I turn on the television or surf the web are the noises of a thousand little bursts.



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