Tuesday, November 17, 2015

France, Freedom, and Security

I, like many of you, have been watching the horrible scenes unfold from Paris under attack. As I make my comments please know that I feel this was a cowardly terrorist act carried out by Muslim extremists. I am sensitive to those lives that were taken and those that are affected by these senseless deaths. I am not writing this as a disclaimer, but I want my readers to know I realize what a horrible act this was, and that I do not hold all Muslims responsible.
As I served in the military, and even since, I’ve noticed a difference between those who serve and those who have not. I know that plenty of good and wonderful people have never served in the military but I have seen a difference in perspective. I also feel there is a different feeling of duty to country that doesn’t always exist with those who haven’t served. I’m not talking down to those who have not served, there is just a difference I have observed. My wife, who really has not served herself, but served in a different way, can see these same differences. We are all different, there are those who are not made for the military, and those who have other paths to take. These people are valued and important.
I’m not trying to be politically correct here, I’m just trying to explain where I’m coming from. This is also a generalization of people, which I know is not reality.
I had a conversation with someone I work with. He is retired military yet is a democrat and liberal leaning. He is from President Obama’s home state of Illinois. He and I never see eye to eye on politics but today we had a conversation where he said “I think I may be coming over to your way of thinking.” It kinda blew me away. We talked for a while and he said this because of what he heard from President Obama in his press conference from Turkey. We discussed what a difficult and complicated situation our country is in. We have commanders and Generals who are used to a conventional war with a battle line objective. Viet Nam changed all of that. We have today a similar war as Viet Nam but it seems to be global, not confined to a small country in SE Asia. Mr Obama said that what was being done about ISIS is not going to change. The reporters were basically saying that what was happening is not working, Mr. Obama was saying it was. I commented that if we were actually doing something different, the last thing that would be said on international TV would be what we were actually doing. So I don’t know if the administration thought the American people needed to hear something, or if they just are really doing the same old thing, however so, I would have skipped the press conference.
Either way I am glad to not be the President. When something happens the masses demand something to be done. They are not quite sure what needs to happen but they expect a leader to figure it out and do it. Sometimes it’s not what they think should happen. I am just grateful I don’t have to make the decision.
Do we get rid of all Muslims because we can’t tell which is which? If you were a peaceful Muslim and you saw fellow Muslims being abused might that turn you militant? During WWII when we basically imprisoned American citizens because they were of Japanese descent was that appropriate? Do we just make the middle east a parking lot regardless of innocent lives? There is always collateral damage in war, would that warrant the wholesale bombing of Syria? Or Iran? Or Saudi Arabia? The answers are very complicated to fighting a war like this. We should find a solution, but not at the expense of a race or a country. I think it’s possible. I think it would be expensive and would cost American lives. That is the reality of it. One thing I did not like that the President said was he didn’t want more troops on the ground because he has seen too many without arms or legs. I don’t want anyone, especially our brave military to lose any appendage or their lives. But, dang it, that is their job! They were not drafted. They were not forced to join the military. They volunteered. And knowing them as I think I do, they would agree with me! When you take that oath and put on that uniform I would hope there is more than the GI bill on your mind. We have the best trained and best military on this earth. They are second to none! I know this personally. But when I said I would protect this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic I know I meant it! I think they do too. Make the best decisions but don’t keep them home because you don’t want them to get hurt in a war! That is what they signed up to do. Their loyalty and their commitment is to make sure we sleep soundly in our beds.
My sentiment can be summed up in a fictional speech.
“You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You?... I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know -- that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives; and my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.
You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall -- you need me on that wall.
We use words like "honor," "code," "loyalty." We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punch line.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps
under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.
I would rather that you just said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post!”
A Few Good Men, 1992
This is from a movie. The speech was written for dramatic effect at a climax of the movie. It is not real. But my guess it was written by, or with input from, a military member. Because many of us feel this way and often that is foreign to those who have never served.
Get the job done. If you have to do some not so nice things, still get the job done. War is not pretty and being shot at is no fun, but how does this country with everything it stands for survive? It’s been said that:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Thomas Jefferson
I don’t like this idea and I did not invent it, but it is the way it is. Diplomacy Will. Not. Work.
You cannot reason with the unreasonable. Some innocent people may be victims. Do we sit and do nothing, or worse, do the wrong thing because we are afraid of hurting the feelings of someone, or injuring or killing our brave military members? Then we have lost already.
President Obama you must do what must be done. It will involve getting your hands dirty. It will involve blood and losing patriots and innocents. It will not be good by any standard. But if we are to survive, it must be done. This evil ideology will not go away. If we don’t rip it out by the roots it will come back to haunt us again and again. Will that take telling good Muslims they are not welcome in this country? Will it take refusing refugees looking for help? Will it take sealing, and I mean really sealing, our borders? It might. I don’t really have the answers but I know it won’t be pleasant.
I am a Christian. I believe Christ will come again and He will be the supreme government. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is the Christ. I believe this as much as any Muslim believes their doctrine. But until that time, we must take care of this country that was brought forth with blood for the building of God’s kingdom here on earth. This nation will survive, but it will take sacrifice and work.
Every American must sacrifice for this country to endure. Sometimes we must sacrifice doing the right thing. Letting in refugees is the right thing to do. It’s the Christ-like thing to do. But we probably need to sacrifice the right thing for the security of our citizen’s. I am a Christian. I still carry a gun. Violence is not Christ-like but if I want to protect my family and myself, I need to sacrifice the right thing for security. Benjamin Franklin said:
“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”
We may not have the security we want. We may have to sacrifice other things other than freedom for that security. I’ve spent my life dealing with, and trying to obtain, better security. It’s not convenient to be secure. You have to stop, unlock the door, do what you need to do, then lock it back up again. Do that several times and you may say, “I can leave it unlocked this short period of time.” It’s like wearing a seatbelt. You may survive one trip without it, but it’s that next one that may kill you. Do you want to take a chance?
My opinion is that’s it’s just a matter of time until we have our own Paris. With concealed carry it may turn out a little different. I think I would return fire under the right circumstances. I think that may have saved some lives. At the risk of being cold and insensitive, France’s tough gun laws didn’t seem to help on Friday the 13th did they? You can get a permit but the rounds cannot be any more than 3. I’m not sure 3 rounds would do it unless you go to range often. Real often! It’s more difficult to get a concealed carry license in France than in California! Even in a dark theater I can see muzzle flash. Is it reckless to shoot at a muzzle flash? Yes! It is! Doing nothing does not end well. But I can’t tell you I would not have fired. I’d like to think I could have had some target identification, but I can’t say. I may have just got out of there! I can tell you this, if I was faced with someone pointing a Kalashnikov 7.62X39 rifle at me, I would at least try to return fire! Would that have stopped them? I’m not sure. But I do know the outcome of no one being armed. Many dead.
There comes a time when we need to consider our own safety and security in this country. This freedom we enjoy comes with a cost. It costs to keep it. Are we willing to pay the price?
Semper Paratus
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