HUMINT: Eternal Vigilance

What does eternal vigilance mean? To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, in the calculus of our Founding Fathers eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. As good as that sounds, it doesn't tell us what the price actually is. Adjusted for inflation from 1776 - is it $19.95? In what factory is eternal vigilance made and on what aisle in Wal-Mart is it sold? Can we haggle over its value? Can it be outsourced? Those questions sound trite. It must be priceless. Is it priceless? More than likely eternal vigilance is a combination of tangible things like money and intangibles like the faith of yours "that all avalanches start with but a single pebble". If that's true, can we quantify the intangibles? Can we track the fragility of our liberty over time as a function of our collective vigilance? Yes, I think we could discretely measure the "eternal vigilance" (EV) of Americans and their mortal enemies over time (EV/t). While I would love to take responsability for making the (EV/t) graph a reality - it must remain an abstract concept for the moment. Even in the abstract, it can help us conceptualize the root cause of the problems you've pointed out above. If we had an (EV/t) graph in our hand right now, how might we explain it's behavior? Consider the following abstract answer.

The fruits are shading the leaves, indirectly poisoning the tree.

American society has evolved through generations of conflict - but with each passing generation the context of those conflicts become more surreal. The eternal vigilance Jefferson referred to in his famous quote is not precisely the EV our fellow Americans are lacking today. His wars were for independence and national sovereignty. Lincoln's EV was equally different than what we lack today. His war was for emancipation and national cohesion. We can hardly imagine not having the fruits of their conflicts. Indeed we do take them for granted. Can you imagine a scenario in which Americans would not? Is that their fault? Are we to blame for not fighting in the American Revolution or for the Union in the Civil War? Do public school pop quizzes take most of us to the trenches and the debates of the day? Many of those who died in the dirt had trouble conceiving the cause they were dieing for and they were living in history's womb. Even if we could taste the mud, blood and bile of those wars, would we as a society have a unified epiphany after the trauma of a September 11-2001? I don't think so.

While the above analysis shields the average American from your blame, it is not designed to do so. These are simple musing on the mechanics of any society. Thinking critically about the mechanics of our relatively high functioning society we should see, as you do, that there exists room for improvement. Alternatively, when our American society of today is juxtaposed against American society in history or compared to European society today or contrasted to the societies of our enemies - Americans have plenty to be proud of. I'm not talking about red, white and blue patriotic nationalism, I'm talking about how most Americans optimistically apply progressive philosophies without even realizing they are doing it. How are they doing it? It's their identity. Applied philosophy over multiple generations is transformed into unwaivering identity. So your essay asks, what is our national identity? Is it lacking the necessary ingredients to defeat the threats similar to those that precipitated 9-11-2001?

To my mind, philosophy and leadership are key to solving the intrinsic social problems you've highlighted. Let's consider the mechanics of those two ideas. In American history, American's relationship to their Leadership was more republican than it is today, not Republican or Democrat in the sense of party politics but instead in the definition of government. Improved communications has been a boon for democracy. Consider the following a political rule of thumb - as a society improves its communications infrastructure, the greater capacity it has to be democratic/anarchic and therefore less republican/autocratic. For example, in American society today, the President of the United States has to communicate in an increasingly complex and competitive communications matrix. Beyond the electoral process, what is the President of the United States actually competing for? He is competing for the constructive attention of American citizens. To capture their constructive attention in the midst of a crisis requires a philosophy with healthy roots, a trunk with more than 3,000 rings, healthy leaves and a clear articulation of the fruit to come. Alternatively, epic leadership driven by philosophy never promises instant gratification. Great leadership, like that of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln not only leveraged enlightened philosophy they carried with them a mortal manifestation of the philosophy they were fighting for. These men were Thomas Paine and Frederick Douglas respectively. Were Thomas Paine and Fredrick Douglas considered voices in the wilderness in their day? No they certainly were not. How was their voice magnified? By epic leaders.

These analogies and abstract models outlined above point to a very specific kind of weakness among American leadership today. The first weakness is systemic and outside of any individual's control. The problem is that the chaotic communications environment federal government operates in is a burden on their relationship with American citizenry. The second weakness is fully under their control to rectify and that is that the voices who understand the threats are in the wilderness. By addressing the second problem, the first is more easily overcome. The President and his administration will have to invite those voices from the wilderness to the Rose Garden on the White House lawn. Those voices would also have to be willing and able to make the transition.




  • HUMINT: Eternal Vigilance

    01.90   06.90   09.90   01.91   05.91   09.94   08.95   01.97   09.97   08.98   11.99   01.00   05.00   07.00   03.01   09.01   01.03   03.03   05.03   06.03   07.03   09.03   10.03   11.03   03.04   05.04   06.04   07.04   09.04   10.04   11.04   12.04   01.05   02.05   03.05   04.05   05.05   06.05   07.05   08.05   09.05   10.05   11.05   12.05   01.06   02.06   03.06   04.06   05.06   06.06   07.06   08.06   09.06   10.06   11.06   12.06   01.07   02.07   03.07   04.07   05.07   06.07   07.07   08.07   09.07   10.07   11.07   12.07   01.08   06.08   09.08  


  • Best of Google Vid
  • Iraqhurr Radio Free Iraq
  • Kurdistan TV
  • RFE Radio Liberty
  • Radio Free Iraq
  • 1st Headlines
  • Al Bab
  • Al Bawaba - ARABIC
  • Al Bawaba - ENGLISH
  • Al Iraqi
  • Aswat al Iraq - ARABIC
  • Aswat al Iraq - ENGLISH
  • Aswat al Iraq - KURDISH
  • Big News Network
  • EIN News
  • Electronic Iraq
  • Inside Iraq
  • Iraq Crisis Bulletin
  • Iraq Daily
  • Iraq Economy
  • Iraq Energy
  • Iraq Journal
  • Iraq Net
  • Iraq Photos
  • Iraq Sport
  • Iraq Updates
  • Iraqi News
  • Iraqi Papers
  • Moreover
  • One World
  • RUSI
  • Sotal Iraq
  • Topix
  • Yahoo
  • Zawya
  • Baghdad Bulletin
  • Economist
  • Az Zaman - ENGLISH
  • Iraq Today
  • Guardian
  • Al Mannarah
  • Al Ahali
  • Al Fourat
  • Al Itijah Al Akhar
  • Al Ittihad
  • Al Sabah
  • Al Tariq
  • Alef Yaa
  • Baghdad
  • Baghdad
  • Iraq Today
  • Radio Dijla
  • humint

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?