“Getting National Security Right” Feb. 2011

Getting National Security Right

“Getting National Security Right”

O.K. I understand we are in a financial mess, stuck with massive federal and state debt while a jobless recovery creeps along. I understand that everyone is going to have to make sacrifices. I understand that we even need to we rethink whether our entitlement programs match our current realities.

I recognize that the retirement age for social security – at least for those not already in their late fifties should be raised significantly After all, we can’t pretend we still live the early part of the last century when social security first emerged. We have after all made real medical progress in this new century. People do live longer when sixty as they say is the new fifty.

So, raising the age of retirement age seems entirely logical. But what I don’t understand is those who prod us to cut national security spending. After all if we don’t have security, we don’t have anything. Just ask all the people of Somalia. A failed state if there ever was one or those trying to survive in Libya this week.

No, in this obviously dangerous world how can we even consider cutting the national security budget. Sure, I recognize that our military budget is phenomenally bloated. I understand that 2009’s 661 billion dollars — a figure that equals the next twenty countries combined spending is not chump change.

But it is also true that just as we must recognize the changing times with social security, we must do the same with national security. I mean is the formal military budget as we know it really a national security budget as we should defined it for the 21st century?

After all just as our predecessors, understood that while the nineteenth century military budget once focused on training horses, the 20th saw the need to retire those same horses as new challenges emerged. Yes, decision made by leaders who understood that the enemies of our national security and the challenges were always evolving. People who understood that today’s security is very different from yesterdays. Understood that today’s security is about maintaining the American way of life in a world where globalization has given us competitors we never had before. Deeply committed, intellectually accomplished and lower wage workers easily hired from India to China. And the tools to compete with them to maintain our national security are not guns but math, science and engineering teachers.

Where once we had to worry about the threat of rising naval forces on the horizon. It is the rising water’s themselves that threaten us now. From eating away at our shorelines, threatening those especially low lying but economically vital areas from Boston to Palo Alto.

Watery threats that come not just from slowly rising waters but the massively moisture filled and energy driven storms of our dramatically changing global climate. Waters that keep inundating us with everything from horrendous rainfalls to crippling snow storms and the national security tools to fight them are not tanks loaded with heavy ordnance once designed to destroy the Soviet Union’s forces but automotive engines operating on cleaner energy.

Energy costs that won’t keep jerking up as we hit peak oil and Chinese and Indian consumers buy more even as that part of the world’s supply of oil that comes from Libya sprays out in the desert part of the current regional chaos that could easily spread to Saudi Arabia, the biggest gas station in the Arab world.

All the while creating climatic chaos that is destroying food crops around the world and adding to those same explosions. So clearly spending money on energy, especially clean energy to be less dependent on Saudi Arabia is a national security issue.

No, the way I see it, we have to absolutely maintain our national security. But we can’t even try to do that unless we understand what it is that is actually threatening America’s national security in this new century

About Steven Leibo

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