- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
By "Soldier’s Diary"
Best Defense department of domestic violence and national security
Yesterday, Tom commented: "But generally I am avoiding the subject of the Newtown slaughter because it just enrages and saddens me."
My thought was, that is exactly why we need to discuss this. We should be disgusted, we should be enraged, we should be saddened, but we must turn those emotions to the debate. What happened in Newtown, what happened in Oregon, what happened in Colorado, what happened in Columbine, has as much to do with national security as what is happening in Pakistan. You have seen the numbers of people killed over the past decade due to gun violence in America, and yes, anytime our citizens are being killed it’s a matter of national security, but I have a little bit of a different outlook on the impacts to our national security as we move forward.
In a global economy of vastly increased mobility and interdependence, our own prosperity and leadership depends increasingly on our ability to provide our citizens with the education that they need to succeed, while attracting the premier human capital for our workforce…America’s long-term leadership depends on educating and producing future scientists and innovators. We will invest more in STEM education so students can learn to think critically in science, math, engineering, and technology; improve the quality of math and science teaching so American students are no longer outperformed by those in other nations.
The above quote comes directly out of our 2011 National Security Strategy. Investment in our future is key to advancing the prosperity of our nation. How the U.S. government will move forward in its allocation of resources, to include money and people, will be an outcome of this tragic event. The spate of shootings over the past few years has now grown to the point that politicians will do something. What that something is may vary, at the federal level it may be stricter gun control laws, at the local level it may be additional security at schools and other places where you find large gatherings of otherwise defenseless people (malls, movie theaters, and schools, for example).
Federal, state and local officials will have a series of stark decisions to make. Hire security guards or hire teachers. Invest in security cameras or purchase new books. You want to arm teachers? Wonderful, purchase them all guns, ammo, and send them to a week of training on how to handle the weapons. Personally, I would rather they purchase new supplies for our teachers and students, then spend a week at a teaching seminar.
As we move forward we can use the model followed after 9/11, and turn on the fire hose of money to increase security in our schools based on the 1 percent doctrine. Our children deserve the best education and the right to attend school without the fear of being gunned down by an evil madman, but how those two objectives are achieved must be balanced vis-à-vis our financial resources. We all see what travel at our airports has become, how antiquated our immigration policies have become, and the brain-drain that has infected our nation. Once we get past the necessary gun control debate, all citizens will need to stay engaged to assure that our nation properly prioritizes its resources for the security of the nation.
"Soldier’s Diary" is an active duty soldier with multiple combat tours over the past 11 years and is a longtime follower of The Best Defense. The views expressed are his own.