Sunday, September 13, 2009


When an unrelenting and totally dedicated opposing force threatens the very existence of your country and way of life, all the concepts of right and liberty including some personal freedoms and civil liberties may be temporarily suspended - for the good of the many and the ultimate preservation of our society. Amid the angst and controversy of 911 the United States has seen fit to do just that in the national interests though these interruptions appear to be minuscule and reasonable considering the circumstances. To the conspiracy theorists, it is the beginning of the end and harbinger of totalitarian government. Others fear that we have gone too far in our prosecution (or lack thereof) of alleged terrorists. All sides raise credible issues.

The pendulum swings back and forth. No doubt that this is an incredibly complex issue that’s rolled up into American Constitutional law and the United States Bill of Rights, United States foreign policy and the continuing evolution of the values and perspectives of all our citizenry.

The eighth anniversary of 911 has reminded us once again that the price of liberty is substantial and has renewed the debate about the balancing act between national security interests and civil liberties. The potential of our survival as a nation rests somewhere between those who would embrace a unilateral civil liberties preservation perspective no matter the cost (ACLU) and those that espouse an ultra draconian suspension of any and all rights in order to head off terrorism and prevent future attacks. Not since World War II has there been such a dedicated effort to defeat an enemy that threatens our borders and very way of life.

It is imperative that the debate, analysis and the never ending dance between these two perspectives continue as we need to get it right. The pendulum has already started its return to center as the perception of the threat to our national security has diminished, though some question that conclusion. The very real threats and the great potential for more terrorist attacks, both domestic and foreign, require our continued extraordinary vigilance and an attitude that will allow us to fight fire with fire. The experts are warning us that it will happen again, sooner than later.

We need only note that the rules of war have changed. Our very patient and committed enemies are fighting a war of attrition and seem willing to continue that battle ad infinitum.

Yes, we need to guard against the dangers of a totalitarian society though some in our midst may not want to admit that we are literally at war against a foe that has been described as the "enemy of civilization." To them we are the Great Evil and for you Star Wars fans, we are literally the Dark Side. They are diametrically opposed to us and will take our concepts of morality, freedoms and laws and treat them as weak points to be exploited for their benefit. They are dedicated to one proposition – to bring us down and eliminate us from the face of the earth, period. It’s as simple as that… I would offer that telling our enemies what we are going to do and how we are going to do it isn’t in our best interests (duh).

The purpose of war is the defeat of an enemy - victory and ultimately the achievement of peace. We are not engaged in some chivalrous, knightly or even 17th century warfare contested by gentleman (were that Saladin lived in our time). General William Tecumseh Sherman said, "War is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it."

Let’s make sure that our military, law enforcement and intelligence folks have the tools to get the job done. They need to be able to work smarter and more efficiently and use all of our available assets. Let’s give them all the credit for keeping us out of harms way to date…


Ned Buxton

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