“I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of insidious forces working from within.” – Douglas MacArthur.
“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all” – John F. Kennedy
The topic for today is the importance of both increased national and international security and the nature of leadership we need in a changing world. However the focus will be on the first one, with an example of things starting at home in the US. Both with proper legislation and law enforcement within the domain and control of US Congress. The US here is just an example and different examples do exist all over the world.
When times are economical challenging, foreign policy matters are rarely the topic of discussion. But in recent weeks issues on both foreign policy and security worked their way up within the public domain of attention.
During the crisis with North Korea in which China played for certain a role of influence for the better, – we had first the Boston Marathon bombings with the related questions about terrorist connections. This is relatively a new element that from areas where you don’t expect it, people find their way on US ground and evolve in personalities able to prepare bombs with the intention to kill indiscriminately. And so they did, as others may do again anywhere. Both inside the US and outside the US.
Whilst the airliner plot over the Atlantic and World Trade Centre attacks are unlikely to happen anymore in the identity as they evolved, – the prospect of terror from a different kind seems to be more of an issue in the future.
It is terror of a different kind than 9/11. But it is the terror on top of increased gun violence in the US anyway, and from both sides of the spectrum there is easy access to guns, assault weapons and other tools to inflict destruction.
It’s a warning that dynamics in society are changing and that we need to be mindful of the fact that we are simply not ready for this.
Proper legislation in line with the spirit of our time and similar law enforcement need to be in place. This being prepared in a proactive way by anticipation on the dynamics in society.
Within those recent dynamics in the US the civil war in Syria did break the news with a high index of suspicion of chemical warfare being used against the opposition in Syria. This followed by an Israeli bombing near Damascus to prevent the transport of missiles and chemical weapons close to the borders of Israel.
At the same time Congressional hearings in the US provided more detail about what happened in Libya when the US ambassador Christopher Stevens and other Americans were murdered during a terrorist attack. Lacking the total picture, some Republicans claim that the White House should be held responsible for either insufficient protection or misleading information. It would seem that the dynamics within the domain of some Republican members of US Congress go that far that they would like any effort to try to impeach President Obama on this issue, if they could. A reflection of a “House Divided” where some members of this honourable branch of Government lost touch with both reality and the priorities of this country.
It illustrates the dangerous paradox in this country, the downfall of democracy when Congress is misaligned on some major topics and obstructive elements are able to block progress against the will of the majority of voters.
This is not new and it may happen anywhere in countries with democracies. It might be considered as the play game of democracy but in some events it’s a dangerous play game setting the tone for more little fruitful dynamics in society…
Whilst not proven perhaps, there is more chance a society at peace or stable in itself at times of peace, – will sustain the disharmony at times of no peace better than the kind of society already divided in itself.
It illustrates somehow as well the sad thing that people often tend to stick together in crisis only, but go their own way when there are no dangers on the horizon.
We live however in a world where simple escalating events may lead to massive drama’s all around.
For this reason the topic to be discussed today is an interesting one as the perceptions about leadership, democracy and security are almost as different as the dimensions about security and leadership on its own. Issues about eg Israeli’s and Palestinian security have different perceptions all around the world. History shows that people can make a difference within certain positions.
Interestingly we had recently 2 US Presidential candidates with different perceptions and personalities. The person who started his US Presidency in 2009 was able to continue in 2013. The perceptions of one leader and the choices being made on behalf of international security may define the outcome of many future dynamics. Likewise within the US, US Congress may define the outcome on other dynamics.
It’s a matter of leadership and being proactive, with inclusive views.
The nature of fast growing and increasing economic and financial interdependence of countries around the world, with all sorts of growing interactions, – need a far stricter international security than ever before. It all starts in home land activities, to get grip on those things we don’t want, those things being disruptive for our well-being in the countries where we live, – the things affecting national security. An issue for all of us, wherever we may live.
Both National and International security are in ways connected.
Speaking about security at a challenging time in US history, we only need to look back some 150 years ago.
A time where US Congress and legislative issues paved the way for the dynamics leading to the US civil war in the 18th Century.
President Lincoln would not have been the person history remembers if he would not have been challenged after his Presidential election to lead his country through one of the most difficult times in US history.
He was the unexpected President exposed to the worst, which through a combination of circumstances made him the best!
Some would say that the American civil war in those day was a security and a significant emancipation issue for the US as a Union.
Emancipation still to be remembered, still to be remembered by those members of the Republican Party who are unable to see that emancipation and inclusive progresses are ongoing issues in history. Running behind the important social and political events of time will catch up with those who have to deal with the implications in the future. History learns that not being proactive comes at a cost.
Being true what he said in his inauguration, President Lincoln did not allow a minority to disintegrate the Union, – but he preserved the Union, by which he followed through with his planned declaration of Emancipation to end slavery.
He succeeded as part of the Republican movement at the time to create the next endeavour in US history, keeping the right balance on the required issues of national security in his days.
Whilst generally Southern Democrats were obstacles for Emancipation in the 1860 ties, – Northern Republicans are generally stumbling blocks for 21st Century US progress. Both with exceptions within each party in the days of President Lincoln and today. True is that the Republicans were the driving force for progress one and half century ago.
Republicans should take this on board.
The last still in a most divided America.
Congressional choices long ago by overturning the so-called Missouri compromise which intended to restrict slavery, played part in the evolving drama in the 1860ties, before it actually happened.
Today we jump a fair bit in time. To illustrate that divisions can go one way or the other but unresolved within the required legislation will lead to all sorts of processes in society hard to contain.
Also an issue subject to Congressional choice. The choice either being proactive or reactive.
It is not long ago the National Rifle Association moved to block a UN treaty on gun control. The NRF serves strongly the interest of both national and international arms deals, with a high level of influence in US Congress. Clear is that US Congress has been willing to serve the power position of the NRA by simply not approving Presidential proposals to revise gun legislation. The majority however of US voters wants a change in the current legislation on gun control as increasing gun violence disrupts a nation and may compromise eventually national security, the last because the current legislation is not aligned with changing dynamics in US society with more gun related violence and deaths, – both at the cost of children and adults.
Whilst some 700000 people died during the American civil war at the time of President Lincoln,- more even died as a result of unlawful gun use in the US over various decades.
The downfall of a democracy is that a minority may act against the will of the constitutional rights of voters. Voters to have their voice properly represented in the legislation a country deserves. It is true that the ignorance of a few voters – in the words of John F Kennedy – may impair the security of all. In some cases the security of a Republic.
Congressional ignorance on the issue of gun control may disregard national security interest where it comes to the protection of US citizens. Voters want to reduce the risk of more generalised and increasing gun violence in the US as the extremes will come together in the context of changing social dynamics. The last as part of increased globalisation. Congress is not allowing those facts to be considered within the concept of national interest and as such tolerating the death toll of existing gun violence, – eventually debilitating the US ability to keep control in own house. Getting worse when the forces of external terrorism meet existing dynamics in US society with more or less free access to unrestricted guns and assault rifles, enabling massacres at large scale.
A matter of national security.
Congressional choices may define future dynamics whilst the US President is almost powerless to change this at a time this being required.
It’s a matter of poorly understood national security of the United States of America. The dynamics of society turning into increasing and senseless massacres, – the last often caused by ill minded and mentally disrupted people from which the statistics say they are only on the increase. Meanwhile US Congress allowing to be influenced more by NRA interest, and not taking the dynamics in society or the wishes of voters on board.
Douglas MacArthur within a different context reflected once his concern for his own great Nation; “not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within”.
He was right in one sense, but today the danger comes from 2 directions, – both from threats within and without, and with the current Congressional attitude towards increased gun control as is today, – this is a potential menace to the security of the Union.
Lincoln would have turned away from this, – if he could! It is a matter of emancipation, constitutional emancipation.
Where history changed with new dilemma’s to be sorted, – the ask of true leadership is more profoundly needed all over the world.
But it all starts at home to have the required legislation and law enforcement in place.
We are faced with different dilemma’s this century.
True leadership is required today when the proper balance gets disrupted with lots of things being at stake. And often as it proved in history it falls back on people with a distinct personality and attitude, – bright in their assessment and determined in their actions.
The last applies for US Congress as well. An honest and fair assessment being required, both based on the choice of people being represented and the dynamics in society.
If we speak about the issue of security in a broader sense:
Not only increased globalization is asking for stricter national and international security, but also a new political economy with shifting influence from west to east and a population growth hardly possible to sustain, – with an increased unstable relationship between our fragile global civilisation and an increased depletion of our resources.
The last will become vital in the future.
Hence from an international perspective, international security in the Asia-Pacific region can’t be allowed to be compromised by nuclear dictators as eg in North Korea.
Similarly US security can’t be compromised by increasing gun violence inflicted by more people turning their hatred on society, with the same easy access to guns and rifles because Congressional legislation did not follow the trend in society.
Rifles and gun’s being far more advanced than when the Constitution was written. Dynamics within society and international far more different than they have ever been. The US more at edge than ever before.
The issues of both national and international security are getting more important as more things can go wrong at the same time with wider implications faster speed and greater destruction and disruption.
Without the right tools, the right brains and the best possible assessment, – we lose both momentum and direction for a more stable world.
And again it all starts at home.
If we look at the Middle East, the situation in Syria is a prime example of major dangers and the potential of an escalating conflict. Civilisation and reason totally lost.
There have been dangers and evils in the past, so will there be evils and dangers in the future and we need to recognise them at an early stage.
When Lincoln made his Emancipation declaration amidst the American Civil war, – it took still hundred years before the Civil Rights movement got its way into proper and equal legislation for each American citizen.
I hope the desired emancipation on gun control and the required restrictions on gun related violence will not take an other 50 years in the US. It would be a massive drain on society, both for victims and their families, but also for those who have to work in authority within the given restrictions of incomplete gun legislation.
People in the police force have families as well.
Fortunately there is no room for racial hatred anymore, but whilst the last belongs largely to the past new issues of friction and potential hatred arise at the spectrum of social development, – with mixture of cultures and religions, and increased travel from various countries around the world.
Being multicultural in one sense is good and has the potential to bring the goodness of different nations together. The downfall could be when people from poverty stricken area’s in today’s world travel at different countries, – with at times the narrow and restricted perception of only blind hatred. Receiving in some occasions terrorist training in their homeland of origin, with a mission to destruct and destroy.
Alqaida has eg booklets designed to help terrorists overseas to make bombs and strike and kill in various ways. The target quite often the US.
We might be horrified to know of what is possible to happen, – but most of us get horrified when it happens. Whilst we need to love our neighbour as ourselves, we have to denounce the persons and groups inflicting violence and terrorism. Similar with countries deliberately exporting this sort of people or ideology to be held accountable in line with international law, – the last subject for renewal and change at various levels to combat the dangers of our time.
But again it starts at home.
Insufficient restrictions on international nuclear control and allowing more countries to have access to nuclear weapons by lack of internal law enforcement is asking for more dictators or other countries “pulling the trigger”, – like allowing more people in the US to have access to lethal rifles and other dangerous guns, – is asking for a more unstable society, – creating a situation with potential “mass pulling of triggers” where the US army may have to act against its own citizens at times of national unrest.
Whether it is correct or not that the Bush Administration prepared for concentration camps in case of social unrest is not that important anymore. More important is that the triggers for social unrest never escalate in the use of massive gun violence in one society, – just for the sake of civilisation and protection of citizens. The law simply needs to be adapted to prevent an almost unlimited access is some States.
Again a matter of Congressional choice, but it would not seem they see it this way, – some members of this honourably establishment even devoted to get the Obama Administration down on what happened in Benghazi, Libya. Not being able to take the long view but using the short-sighted view to debilitate proper Governance at a time this being required.
Just an illustration how members of Congress can add to a “House divided” by not getting the priorities right.
It happened in the past, with US civil war just 150 years ago. It is for some part up to Congress to prevent this ever happening again by reducing increasing gun violence in a similar divided nation on different issues by proper legislation in line with the spirit of time.
With eg the Boston bombing just recently behind, an alleged terrorist rail plot being foiled in Canada, sarin – gas being possibly used in Syria, and North Korea “one click away” from pushing the launch button of firing ballistic missiles, – it is clear that changing international patterns are evolving into more risk involving scenario’s waiting to become reality. both national and international.
This is what I mean when I say that at some stage the extremes are coming together, both from outside the country and inside the country.
This may happen both in the US, Europe or anywhere else.
It’s a warning for all of us!
At the end of the day the means we have to control this situation is largely a matter of the right legislation being in place with the proper law enforcement right for our time. This both applies at the arena of national and international politics.
National Security starts at home and coming back on the US, Congress should act in favour of increased gun control.
A matter of civilised and effective legislation to support both national security and the safety of US citizens.
On the extremes outside – and within the context of international security and coöperation against terrorism – it is encouraging that President Putin from Russia emphasised the need for increased international intelligence coöperation, as prevention at an early stage is the better substitute.
Some nations posses the power to abolish any form of human poverty but also any form of human live. Both a matter of responsibility and choice, – a matter actually of priority to support any extended nuclear freeze proposals, and contain the current level of nuclear experience where it comes to the development of new weapons of mass destruction.
Whilst most nations appreciate the responsibilities on this and have already reduced their nuclear arsenals, new powers arise with the wish to have those weapons as well, – and with a clear intent to either use them or apply international blackmail.
Those countries are an issue of serious concern. They need to be stopped at the earliest possible stage through reason and if reason and sanctions do not help, through force if so required, – in line with international coöperation by those nations committed to stop the dangers to multiply.
The UN plays a central role.
International security on this is based on the practical choice not to allow any new country to develop those weapons, – regardless the question whether it is good or wrong that other countries do already have those weapons. It is clear that with increasing countries having access to nuclear or chemical weapons it is getting more difficult to keep the world secure.
Same applies with providing at times even more unpredictable people an almost free access to fire arms, – as such creating increasing difficulties to prevent massacres of any kind as result of gun violence, the last with a potential domino effect.
Stable we can make it through more succesful partnerships on the issues we face in the 21st century. US Congress is not much familiar with succesful partnerships on this issue of restricting gun violence.
Science is able to unleash the powers of destruction by human choice, unless we prevent humankind and powers to make this choice, – by restricting at least the powers who are able to destruct each other. Most of them who are nuclear now do realise that the choice of such destruction means self-destruction, involving all humanity.
Likewise science provides terrorists the means to unleash powers of more limited destruction, both by senseless shootings or bomb blasts at areas of their choice. However the means by which terrorists are able to apply this destruction in the future is by no means sure and increased international coöperation is required to recognise at an early stage the features of certain persons and groups committed to terror
Whether terror is provoked or inflicted by guns or bombs makes in essence not much difference when we consider the lethal outcome on both children and adults. School shootings where people die are as terrible as disrupted sport events where people are killed through the hands of terrorists using bombs. Those tools need to be be banned from the street with the restriction (if the Constitution can’t be changed as yet) of gun’s being controlled, registered and only in the hands of mindful people, – and assault rifles being excluded in any case for “civil use”.
We live in a world insufficient prepared for terrorism, – which does not mean we have to learn to live with terrorism as if this would be our fate.
Both National and International security starts at home in our own countries with the things we can control, with proper legislation and law enforcement on issues being required in the context of changes in society, changes in the way children are brought up and the way they become adults, apart from the changes related with globalization and the technology which brings people down from different countries.
Whilst it is hard to change or control the mindset to take lives for no reason, it is easier to control or limit the means by which we are able to do this.
This applies both to guns and nuclear weapons, – and it all starts at home where we are privileged to make choices on restricting the tools and dynamics of violence.
US Congress should reconsider the issue of effective gun legislation for the benefit of a more secure society where people are becoming slowly less at risk of violence as due to unlawful use of bullets, – regardless whether those bullets come from US citizens or people who travel from overseas to inflict violence for the reason of hatred against US society.
Waiting for escalating gun violence in the future, wherever it comes from, is pointless. The warnings are there, written already in the hearts of many people who lost loved ones in this repetitive cycle of non-required violence, – waiting to get worse only.
We have neither right to inflict suffering nor death on another human being unless there is an unavoidable necessity for it and any culture or country which endorses the right to bear arms amongst it citizens has blood on such law provision and will pay at later date a price being higher than initially intended at the time those laws were made.
The clause on the right to bear arms in the US Constitution is a serious defect considering the time spirit of the 21st Century and lays the foundation of the potential destruction of it’s culture through internal destructive forces, – if not adapted.
Is this a correct assessment?
Paul Wolf is connected on LinkedIn. For more information about him see Google: Paul Alexander Wolf – Physician, FRACGP, DFFP
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