Security

The case for national security

This Memorial Day evening, let us consider the security not of our corporate networks, but of our country, and of the men and women who serve in its armed forces as the shield against foreign aggressors.

Living in the United States as I do, it would be difficult to avoid noticing that today is Memorial Day. It's a national holiday dedicated to the memory of US men and women who died in military service. That the departed servicemembers are remembered with honor is a source of pride for many US military veterans.

There seems to be a common belief, or at least an informal tradition, among "Conservative" voters who are veterans of the US military that they must support every war effort made under the auspices of the armed forces. Failure to do so seems to condemn one to be branded unpatriotic, un-American, or generally ungrateful for the sacrifices of those who have given their lives in defense of country and freedom.

As a veteran of the US Army myself, I'm sympathetic to the desire to honor my fellow veterans military service, and current active duty service men and women. Even under the worst conditions, in pursuit of the most dubious political ends, the enlisted personnel of the armed forces collectively place themselves in harm's way to secure the safety and prosperity of this nation. When individual servicemembers behave in a manner unbefitting a defender of the rights and liberties of a nation, that person is, I believe, the exception -- not the rule. When the men and women of the armed forces are deployed to pursue aims that are not ethically sound, their dedication is abused, and it is the honor of those who have misused our military who should be held in question.

The country was founded on the courage of people who placed themselves in harm's way in defense of the ideals of personal freedom and individual responsibility. Each in his own way, the men of the Continental Army and irregular forces of the American Revolution stood as a bulwark against inequitable rule by royal fiat. Many of the leaders of that revolution stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the soldiers who made independence possible. This nation's first President elected by the Electoral College -- representative of the people's popular vote -- was George Washington, famed General and commander of the Continental Army. Every signatory of the Continental Congress who lent a signature to the Declaration of Independence, effectively a declaration of war against England, consciously signed his own death warrant in the event the American Revolution was lost.

In time, the offices of those who send our troops into battle have become increasingly divorced from the actions and risks undertaken by the troops themselves. Any risks the members of Congress and any Presidents bear are, by and large, to their political careers alone. Conflicts of interest interpose themselves in the making of the highest level decisions regarding how our military is deployed and what mission it undertakes.

Just as there is a difference between the effort dedicated to an appearance of security and intelligent, trustworthy security policy, so too is there a difference between what our political representatives sell us on the evening news and true national security. Effort -- let alone the mere appearance of effort -- is not equivalent to effectiveness. More than sweat must be employed to achieve any measure of real security; clear reasoning, risk assessment and prioritization, and the proper motivations must form the basis for good security policy.

People on either side of the aisle in government who employ security theater rather than effective security make themselves targets of ridicule, and force themselves into the position of polarizing politics to avoid the appearance of incompetence and corruption so they can maintain their political careers. Those who accept the words of these politicians uncritically do themselves and their countrymen -- or their coworkers, in the case of corporate security -- a grave disservice.

Examine every security proposal, national or corporate, with a critical eye. The truest loyalty is shown by those who advocate for truth rather than merely toeing the party line, no matter the party.

I took an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. While my term of commitment to the military has expired, I still take the spirit of that oath seriously. I won't tell you today how to vote, or who or what to support; that is for you to decide, on your own terms. I would feel myself in violation of the spirit of that oath if I didn't tell you to think for yourself, and consider the conflicts of interest that arise in the politics of national security, though.

Act, and vote, according to your conscience. Reason and dedication to principle over party are the two most effective tools we have in defense of the ideals on which the United States was founded. If you are a US citizen, and cherish the rights and liberties protected by the Constitution, you owe it to the men and women who have given their lives in defense of those ideals, to their memory, to use those tools to the best of your ability.

About

Chad Perrin is an IT consultant, developer, and freelance professional writer. He holds both Microsoft and CompTIA certifications and is a graduate of two IT industry trade schools.

17 comments
boxfiddler
boxfiddler

[i]is paved with good intentions.[/i] Usually attributed to Samuel Johnson, but in fact a bad paraphrase of something he said that goes back further than him. http://www.samueljohnson.com/road.html

santeewelding
santeewelding

"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome." We be in the thick of it here.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

If there is such a thing as the human condition, it's at "serious but stable". For now.

seanferd
seanferd

I appreciate this piece rather deeply. It covers a number of related things very, very well. All in the spirit of Memorial Day. Thank you, and thanks to all who have served.

Stan-the-woman
Stan-the-woman

Can I vote for this one, twice?

apotheon
apotheon

Probably not, unless you find a way to circumvent the one-vote-per-person limit (and no, I'm not going to help you find a way around it -- sorry). I, for one, certainly wouldn't mind if you did upvote it more than once, though. I appreciate the compliment.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i]If you are a US citizen, and cherish the rights and liberties protected by the Constitution, you owe it to the men and women who have given their lives in defense of those ideals, to their memory, to use those tools to the best of your ability.[/i] Too many people are all about their rights and forget their responsibilities.

SAStarling
SAStarling

Everybody today is only looking for someone to blame when they fail. Personal responsibility is an endangered species these days.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

media or political system or educational system or judicial system tells anyone about their responsibilities. I'd also like to know where the same organisations recognise someone for fulfilling their responsibilities. There's been a lot of hype about rights for over forty years, but I don't think I've seen a single thing from the US media about responsibilities in that time.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

P-A-R-E-N-T-S!!! When all else fails, it should fall to them to ensure children are imbued with the proper perspective on life and all that it entails. However, this is far from the reality in a significant number of households, unfortunately.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

...just that I phrased it differently. In a bad environment, a kid SHOULD still turn out okay, given strong & positive parental influence. (hence, the 'all else fails' statement) As noted, though, that isn't the case nearly enough.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Actually, parents should be the first line of defense, not the fall-back. That's where children get 99% of what they learn about responsibility, and most of that is by example -- for better or worse.

SAStarling
SAStarling

...here in the US mainstream media. It's all about the poor, poor, pitiful poor. Nothing about personal responsibility and pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. It's all about cradle-to-grave government "help."

apotheon
apotheon

Rights are freedoms that carry, or imply, responsibilities. People who (mis)use the term "rights" to refer to stuff like "healthcare" don't understand the word.

apotheon
apotheon

Effort and results are not the same thing. It's tempting to believe that hard work equates to success, but our efforts must be well-aimed or it is all for naught. Good intentions are wonderful, but sometimes you need to take a step back and consider the likely results, too. Quoth C. S. Lewis: We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

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