The fallout continues from the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas.
As well it should.
All of the passengers, their families and we as a nation were very lucky. Whatever your faith, a little prayer of thanks should be said by all of us.
So, what is the problem? Who gets the blame?
While I have always been a "Give 'em Hell Harry," kind of person, I believe that this failed attack could have happened under any of the recent presidential administrations. I believe that a more proactive posture on terrorism is much better than our current posture of minimizing and downnplaying. That said, I am as reluctant to blame President Obama for this attack as I was to blame President Bush for 9/11, and President Clinton for the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. (By mere coincidence, I was in Oklahoma City days after the bombing and New York City about a week after the destruction of the World Trade Centers).
I head a commentator make an interesting comparison to the government's dealing with the pantie bomber. In his comparison, he stated that he received a call from Discover Card approximately one hour after a suspicious transaction. Moments later, the card was canceled and a new one issued. Discover card manages approximately 70 million accounts and they detected the fraud within an hour. The state department is "watchdog" to some 500,000 people as terrorist risks. Why can't they respond just as quickly? Why weren't "the dots connected" and the pantie bomber stopped from boarding the airliner?
Where does the fault lay? I fear that the answer is both simple and nearly unchangeable. The fault is Government. Democratic republics are inherently inefficient and slowly responsive. Democratic republics are built around individual freedom and by necessity, rely on the free citizens to be the ones primarily responsible to be both proactive to and reactive for what happens in their lives. To change this characteristic, we would have to change the character of our government.
Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt both took on dictatorial powers as they fought wars which put our republic at risk. Both times, there was tremendous resentment and their successors were unable to hold onto those powers.
I would be very resentful of a president taking on dictatorial powers during my lifetime. I am willing to carry my responsibilities and am unwilling to surrender my freedom. "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (Benjamin Franklin, 1775). But is there another choice?
We faced suicide attackers during World War II. The answer was to kill them as quickly and efficiently as possible before they could complete their attacks. President Jefferson faced a serious terrorism threat from the Middle East in the form of the Barbary Pirates. Jefferson's answer was "Millions for defense! Not a penny in tribute!"
When the Romans faced attackers who were willing to die for their cause, they publicly butchered their families. It turns out, most people willing to die for a cause don't necessarily want their children, parents and siblings to die also.
Perhaps the only real answer is to give up trying to win people's hearts and minds. Hasn't the "hearts and minds" philosophy from the Vietnam War served us so well then and through the present? I guess I don't particularly care what is in the hearts and minds of our enemies. I care most about their willingness to attack us.
Nicolo Machiavelli advised his prince that it is good for a prince to be loved. It is good for a prince to be feared. It is best for a prince to be both loved and feared. But if a prince must choose between them, love is a very fickle thing and fear is enduring.
If we don't want to surrender our liberty here at home, it may be time to start seriously considering creating fear abroad.