Half-baked proposal for grassroots precautions for homeland security

Tuesday 21 January 2003 at 23:45

That didn't take long. Only yesterday I mentioned some fermenting memes and wondered what might escape. Tonight I'm feeling light headed with the aroma.

As I also mentioned yesterday, I've been chewing on thoughts about the role of a local militia in post-9/11 national defense. My original idea was somewhat fanciful: to rally efforts among local martial arts schools to prepare to defend the local community. But realistically, a terrorist attack would be difficult to defend even by the community under immediate attack. The meme needed some metamorphosis.

Several items give me little confidence in the federal government's ability to prevent future attacks. The US campaign in Afghanistan has failed to bring Bin Laden to justice. Our leadership's attention is divided between military pressure on Iraq and diplomatic pressure on North Korea. The herculean re-organization for the Department of Homeland Security will take a very long time. And Israel's example demonstrates the limits of the use of force and intelligence to weaken the cells which support suicide bombers. (Apologies to the Palestinians who surely see themselves as revolutionaries, not terrorists.)

But what can I do about it?

Terrorist attacks are like computer failures. You don't know when or where they'll happen, but they will happen. Technical experience offers some wisdom for dealing with unpredictable but nearly certain failures: disaster recovery.

That was the recombination the meme needed.

Jefferson believed that citizens guarantee their rights by their civic virtue. Gary Hart observes that "no public service more immediately and vividly demonstrates civic virtue than the citizen's defense of the homeland .... Nothing more immediately engages the citizen's attention and energies than a threat to the well-being of family, community, and nation." (Restoration of the Republic p. 210)

In a November Washington Post article Warren B. Rudman and Gary Hart , the co-chairs of the U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century, conclude thusly:

As there is no absolute freedom in a democracy of laws, so there will be no absolute security in the age of terrorism. But all of us, citizens and leaders alike, owe it to ourselves, to our families and to our nation to undertake the kinds of precautions required to prevent us from being hostages to terrorism and to enable us to walk freely in our own land.

With that, I would like to begin to take those lifesaving precautions in my own community. I invite you to join me in an extended conversation about what precautions we citizens can take independently and how we can coordinate with our local police, hostpitals, firefighters, and the National Guard. Please post your comments or a trackback ping at the topicexchange channel so we can take advantage of the RSS feed.