Friday, September 30, 2011

A Civil Libertarian's Dilemma: I admit it I am torn. In the sleepy little town of Ashland right in my backyard they picked up a young man who was planning a MAJOR terrorist attack on either our capitol, the Pentagon and who knows what else.Some say the FBI entrapped him. I am a civil libertarian advocate and sometimes angry at our government for flouting this in its amorphous never-ending expensive in blood and treasure war against terrorism. BUT when the terrorist threat is in your back yard and one sees people around you and your own being having to encounter that threat which could take so many innocent lives or worse, my civil libertarian ideological commitment begins to wane. I know one thing: OUR COUNTRY MUST SURVIVE this onslaught.

If the US changed its foreign policy 180 degrees overnight -- which, in part, I want it to do -- and if it withdrew every boot from Arab soil would the attacks against this country and the west or the threat of those attacks diminish? My suspicion is NO they would not because it has gone significantly beyond that.

I wallow in a pool of ideological doubt. I do NOT know the right approach. I know two things, however, and that is the US must survive to remain culturally as it has been and I want western civilization to thrive. I do not want the west to wage war against Islam nor I do not want Islam to wage a war against the west. How one protects oneself by keeping our civil liberties in tact according those same rights to those who would not accord them to us and to those here who, indeed, want to eradicate us I do not know.

Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote "Anyone who will trade freedom for security deserves neither" may not have relevance now. Those in the 18th century fought war man to man with weapons which could kill a few but could not eradicate entire species or demolish nations. That is not the case now. If we are facing an existential threat then a line for me is drawn. If we are in that kind of war – a war to save our very existence – then I am willing to sacrifice some of that which is the essence of who we always have been to protect other things we traditionally are.

We live in a different age. We live in a nuclear age and all those who spout philosophically ideological niceties, I think, in the comfort of their living rooms playing video games do not realize the stakes are that high and we cannot afford to fail -- not even once!