Friday, January 08, 2010

Security Concerns

It’s difficult to respond to the “underpants bomber” in any kind of reasonable way. One cannot simply disregard it as having no kind of real significance, because it does have very real and significant implications. I cannot, however, see that it is worthy of all of the obsession that the topic is receiving, nor all of the blame-placing.

Of course, obsessing and blame placing is what we do, and this episode is merely the topic of the day; we will obsess and place blame on this until the next topic arises and will switch to that one without a backward look at this one. By “we” I refer to the media and body politic; the public consciousness, so to speak.

I once went to work for a guy because he needed someone to help find out why his company was in a condition where, “We show a profit but there’s never any money.” As I dug into the practices of his supervisors I found, not surprisingly, that the problem was him. His management philosophy was that all errors had to be punished to prevent them being made again, so his employees spent more time covering up mistakes than they did actually getting anything done.

That’s what the “blame game” does for you, but here we are as a nation insisting on knowing who was at fault for this incident and demanding that someone be fired. Obama takes a somewhat more reasonable approach of looking past blame and focusing of correcting systemic problems, and is accused of being “weak on terror” because he isn’t firing somebody.

Unfortunately, the opposition has goaded Obama into resurrecting the “We are at war” rhetoric, which I consider unfortunate. How we gain by deploying huge armies with tanks, artillery and air forces against a few hundred guys scattered over several continents and communicating with one another over the Internet is beyond me. They are criminals aspiring to be warriors, and we cater to their wishes by elevating them to the undeserved status that they crave.

An individual setting off a bomb that kills 300 people in an airplane is not a warrior, he is a murderer; a criminal of the same kind as a thug who kills a store owner while robbing him. The scale of the crime is larger, but the kind of crime is the same. He is a murderer, not a warrior.

Obama talks about “national security,” but what he is catering to is personal security. An individual setting off a bomb that kills 300 people is not attacking the Unites States and is not a threat to this nation; he is simply killing people in the United States and is a threat to individuals. He is a serious threat and individuals need to be protected against him; but it is protection, not defense, and it is individuals who are at risk, not the nation.

People are entitled to be “safe in their persons” in their homes and as they go about their lawful business, and it is the responsibility of government to assure that within reason. I’m glad that Obama takes that responsibility seriously. I just wish that reckless opposition and lurid media didn’t force him to couch it in terms of “war” and “national security.”

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