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The first reference to Homeland Security was apparently made in a 1997 Pentagon report, and was a term coined by an unknown bureaucrat. In 2002 Peggy Noonan opined that”homeland” seemed like it was not an American term to her.

Since then, and all in the aftermath of 9/11, “homeland” has become all too common, and inappropriate, in my view. To me, it has an isolationist ring to it. Motherland, fatherland, homeland. Intonations of the old world, even of the Nazis. Ask a Jew what the term homeland connotes to them. Probably not Israel.

Of course, one does not deserve to be a critic without offering a better idea. In the last century, the American century as many remember it, we simply used the term “domestic” to refer to things within the United States. ┬áDomestic security said it all, and still does in my book. “Homeland” has a sci-fi otherness associated with it that I have not become comfortable with, a dozen and more years on.

So going forward, I will use the word “domestic” and ban “homeland” from my personal vocabulary in referring to America and our security. And every time I hear a political candidate from either party use “homeland,” I will assume they are pandering to isolationist fears and the status quo of political correctness, and not thinking clearly as a true American would do.

 

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Fareed Zakaria on his news analysis program GPS this morning juxtaposed two statistics:

  1. Global terrorist related deaths over the past year totaled just over 36,000.
  2. U.S. gun deaths over the same period totaled around 33,000.

I offer some observations about these grim statistics: The public seems to be more traumatized about the overseas terrorist-related deaths, yet the U.S. gun deaths of almost the same scope are so much closer to home, in every sense.

Our current and prospective U.S. political leaders seem more inclined to take global action (air strikes, ground troops, even open war) over the offshore terrorist threats than to take domestic legislative and other actions to curtail gun deaths right here inside U.S. borders.

While both issues turn around violence, and represent threats to living peaceful lives, the odd weighting of attitudes begs the question: Are Americans reacting more to the sensationalist scare of terrorism abroad or the very real threat of violent death in our own backyards?

What the hell is wrong with our people, from the highest in leadership to our friends down the street? While terrorist threats from abroad are real, the proximate terrorist threat is from fellow Americans, and our society and leadership seem incapable of dealing with it, though other countries around the world have long since done so.

We have so much to learn…

Will we still be in the "Long War" 60 to 80 years from now?.

After you look at how the Pentagon is moving forward with its “Long War” strategy, consider how the impending bombing in the Middle East will fuel further anti-west hate as we rain our own version of terror from the air, with collateral damage that could kill innocents 10 to one or more. While our government may be implementing a revenge strategy the public supports, we will be investing billions in assuring this and future American generations of the worst possible form of public relations damage to U.S. reputation throughout the Middle East. We should instead look at the reasons that the so-called moderate Muslim countries consistently refuse to commit ground troops to curtail violence in Iraq and Syria.Through the recent beheadings were seen through the media as engendering fear among American people, we are also being cleverly “sucker-punched” by ISIS into our own violent chain of reactions, which will cost the U.S.stature, treasure and lives by rallying further support to them among many Muslims. We should not underestimate how ISIS is moving forward by trapping the U.S. into making decisions that are dangerous to ourselves.

After your additional comments and analysis, I’m even more concerned that the “Oath Department” at the Pentagon is asleep at the switch. If innocents like my old high school friend, you and I can detect these obvious incongruities, one wonders how we can trust the military to know whether the next drone target to kill is going to be a terrorist militant or a school marm. Obviously, we can’t! Our technological capabilities seem to be over-reaching our human ethics and intelligence capacity, and we are breeding the next generation of America-haters among the collateral damage.

Chuck

From a friend: I’ve been doing too much proof-reading lately.

Actually, the two oaths are completely different. Officers indicate their rank in the first line, enlisted only their name. Then they are different again after the phrase “true faith and allegiance to the same”, with even more implications than you imputed, although I agree with your thoughts. Both swear to support and defend, but officers take the oath without reservation and will “well and faithfully discharge” their duties. Enlisted personnel have no such obligation. They only agree to obey orders. They can be shirkers, evaders, draftees, in short: cannon fodder. At least they both agree to do it with God’s help at the end.

The variance seems to me to imply a completely different world-view. The officer’s oath is about mind-set and belief and ability; there is no mention of following orders or even agreeing with them. The enlisted is about following orders, no thought desired. We could both go on at length about the implications of that.

I checked the military oaths for enlisted and commissioned members of the military (Google them), and found that they  have an important difference. I took both of these in the Army, as an enlisted Private and then as a commissioned officer, Second Lieutenant. I don’t see anywhere that one oath supersedes the other, nor are they additive, and in fact some people enter service as an officer, and therefore might not take the enlisted oath.
It is very interesting that the enlisted oath requires them to “obey the orders of the President of the United States and the officer’s appointed over me,” as well as follow the Constitution, while the officer’s oath has no mention of following the orders of the President of the United States or the officers appointed over them. This strikes me as a very odd and disturbing inconsistency. It can only be interpreted as meaning officers only have an obligation to “support and defend the Constitution,” and the interpretation of how to do so is left up to them individually.

I also note that each oath stipulates the obligation to protect “against all enemies, foreign or DOMESTIC.” In light of the current furor over new documents regulating decisions to make drone strikes that indicate the U.S. can kill suspected enemies, including U.S. citizens, without any legal evidence, but just the suspicion they are dangerous to the U.S. The presence of “domestic enemies” in the military oaths that have been around so long is interesting in light of these new documents, just revealed in the news media today.

These newly revealed documents only add to my increasing concern about the apparent vagueness and  weakening of judiciary standards and checks and balances in the decision-making and relationships between our elected civilian government, the intelligence community, the military and the judiciary. The greatest victim in all this may be the degree of public transparency necessary to the survival of this or any constitutional democracy.

As I entered the 9/11 Memorial for the first time last Thursday morning, my first impression was of all the hard-hat re-construction activity still surrounding the site, all these years later. Within the memorial, security is everywhere. Then, as I approached the falls outlining where one of the buildings stood, two strikingly different impressions arose amidst the quiet and the rush of water. First, a volunteer led a group of four to a name on the rail, and he wiped away the mist covering the sought after name. The lady burst into tears, leaning over the stainless steel rail, as a young boy threw his arms around her in comfort. They had made a connection with their past. Around the corner of the pool, I then spied a couple planning to take a picture over the pool: the young women stepped back with the camera, and the man happily smiled toward her in posing, as if he were at the edge of the Grand Canyon. To these likely tourists, I imagined this was another fun and interesting outing in a lively visit to the Big Apple.  Just 12 years on, I think I witnessed the slow transition of the 9/11 site from a somber memorial to death and destruction, into a touristic park-like place. How time changes perspective.

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