Once again I’m responding to a column in the newspaper. I sent the following to my hometown paper:
I felt compelled to respond to the recent column by retired Army Colonel Clyde Meyer about militant Islam. I agree with Col. Meyer that Islam has a long history of violence. I also agree with his point that throughout history there have been fanatics from all religions who have used violence to advance their cause. Where I begin to disagree with the good Colonel is how best to fight Islamic extremists today.
Let me preface this by saying that, as a former military member myself, I am not reflexively anti-war. I understand its utility and occasional necessity, but I am not reflexively for war either. While I’ll leave the foreign policy side of the debate for another day, I would encourage anyone interested in the subject to read the book Imperial Hubris by CIA veteran Michael Scheuer for a thoughtful analysis of the motives of the Islamic terrorists.
Colonel Meyer states that since some terrorists have reached American soil they need to be “weeded out” through “counter-insurgency measures.” He casually shrugs off potential violations of the U.S. Constitution that he once swore an oath to defend. (As Republican activist and former-Marine Bill Salier likes to point out, that oath has no expiration date.) Meyer writes that the measures he endorses include “the control of people and resources and can infringe on some of the individual rights to which we are entitled by our constitution.”
Before we unleash the counter-insurgency tactics that we employed in Vietnam and Iraq on the American public, perhaps we could try something else: Freedom. I believe that we can defend ourselves against those who would harm us not by destroying our individual liberties but by defending them and expanding them.
For instance, Meyer mentions the recent Fort Hood attack by a suspected jihadist. Soldiers on that base were, as a matter of policy, denied the Second Amendment right to carry firearms that people elsewhere in Texas and 39 other states currently enjoy. That section of Ft. Hood (like Columbine and Virginia Tech) had become a “gun-free zone,” a proven magnet for mass murderers.
The same could also be said of the September 11th attacks. Government restrictions on the rights of Americans turned airliners into “gun-free zones” and government policy dictated that crews and passengers not resist hijackers. If people had been allowed to resist (as those on Flight 93 did anyway) or if the pilots had been allowed to keep pistols in the cockpit (as was common practice until the 1960’s) then 19 terrorists probably wouldn’t have been able to kill 2,976 Americans armed only with box cutters.
These are just two quick examples of how the answer is more freedom, not less. On this issue, as on many issues, the best thing the government can do for the American people is to stay out of our way. Surrendering our freedom and power to the government in exchange for promises of security ensures that the government will always find new threats so as to expand its power.