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December 18, 2007

A Progressive Vision for Homeland Security
Posted by Michael Cohen

In this month's Democracy Journal Matt Dallek has an excellent piece laying out a new vision for American homeland security. Its modeled, in part, after the Office of Civilian Defense during World War II.

Among its myriad of failures the Bush Administration's disinclination to ask the American people to sacrifice in the war on terror stands as one if its more egregious offenses. As Dallek points out:

The Administration merely has urged civilians to "support" the U.S. war in Iraq ("so we do not have to face them here," though what that support constitutes, other than voting Republican, is never explained), shop at local malls, and look out for suspicious packages while taking subways and other public transportation. In other words, in almost every way, American civilians should pretend that nothing out of the ordinary is going on and that sacrifice isn’t required.

Dallek's solution is to engage Americans in not only responding to a terrorist attack, but also broadening how Americans define and perceive threats to the 'homeland'" -- a move that seems long overdue.

On a practical level that could mean using homeland security volunteers to "lead energy conservation efforts as well "making neighborhoods safer from street crime through neighborhood watches; leading environmental protection campaigns; urging Americans to get screened for cancer and get flu shots, which could save thousands of lives each year; and raising awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, among other threats."

Anyway, it's the kind of idea that progressives need to be thinking about, especially if things go well next Election Day. Check out the piece.


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Interesting... you probably know this but Matt Dallek has some experience with this sort of thing, as he was Gephardt's speech writer during the post 9-11 anthrax scare.

The Democracyjournal site isn't loading for me, but I'll check this out when it does.

I don't do "subscription required" but just reading your "homeland security volunteers" reminds me of my recent visit to China. Sitting in small groups of three or four here and there in Beijing were "volunteers" in civilian clothes with bright red armbands featuring large inscriptions I couldn't read, just keeping an eye on things. This was in addition to security people in various uniforms which were common.

The trick is to get a critical mass working for the government, paid or volunteer, to keep an eye on the rest of us and make sure we do the Right Things.

I'm with Don on this. The last thing I want are a group of citizens organized into some sort of adult boy scouts patrolling neighborhoods looking for crime and lecturing people about the dangers of drunk driving and peaking into windows to see if people are smoking weed. And that's what will happen. I really don't want to be harassed by my neighbors in the name of security.

Hey, over the last couple of days I have tried to post several comments here that were flagged as spam and wouldn't go through. What's going on? There is nothing different about the content of these posts and previous posts, and I know I'm typing the authorization codes correctly.

Mr. Kervick, this is Homeland Security Volunteer Bacon. The reason your subversive rants have been blocked, which I was happy to facilitate, is because you are in violation of presidential executive order 2007-24 which was necessary due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq.

This order states that anyone undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq are subject to having all property and interests in property blocked, and they may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in. This includes posting in Democracy Arsenal, democracy in the sense that you are still allowed to vote but THAT'S IT, chum.

I blew it--I should have said "Comrade Kervick".

I thought it was something like that.

Well Michael, it seems we're all united here against Dallek's idea. How do you defend it?

I was also put off by the Dallek essay. I tried to explain why in a longer comment, but the spam blocker wouldn't let it pass. I guess everyone will just have to intuit my reasons telepathically.

I posted my thoughts on the Democracy: A Journal website following the Dallek article.

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