Google+ Followers

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Enemy Within

-- By Tom Phillips

Republican  Congressman Peter King, former chairman of the Homeland Security committee, says it came as a complete surprise when a 29-year-old intelligence analyst went public with the news that the National Security Agency is collecting the phone records of millions of Americans.   How could this happen? King wondered.  Were there warning signs?  Were there issues in his background?   

Others were not so surprised.  With a criminal investigation underway against NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, and a court-martial in progress against 25-year-old army private Bradley Manning, who released a huge archive of military secrets to Wikileaks, it has become clear that the greatest threat to America’s security is not al Qaeda, or Iran, or any foreigners.  It is Americans under thirty.  You just can’t trust them. 

The “warning signs” were there for anyone to see, right there on Manning’s military ID and Snowden’s NSA clearance – the open gaze, the smooth unwrinkled countenance, and the birth date in the 1980s.   These individuals, as the military would call them, lack the maturity to safeguard anything important – even their own lives and livelihoods.  What’s the matter with them?  
These are the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the “Greatest Generation,” and they couldn’t be more different than the young people of the 40s.   That generation fought and won World War Two believing that God was on the side of the United States, oaths were binding and orders were to be followed to the death.  These lessons were all reversed in the post-war era.  The trials and executions of Nazi war criminals established the principle that orders were not absolute, that you had not just a right but a duty to disobey orders that violated your moral instincts, and you could pay with your life if you didn’t.    
Vietnam was the death blow in the 60s.  Young Americans – the Baby Boomers spawned by the “Greatest Generation" -- came to believe that in the area of foreign policy, they had more sense than their parents, and the government that was sending them to fight communism in Vietnam.  Rather than feeling disloyal, they had a sense of moral superiority in resisting.  And they raised their own children with the same values.  Today, faced with the evils of world terrorism, the United States is stuck with millions of twenty-somethings, throughout government and the military, who think they have an obligation to blow the whistle on secret government wrongdoing, no matter how essential this wrongdoing may be to national security.  
Is America doomed?  Not if we act swiftly.  Luckily, the youthful idealism that threatens our freedoms has a predictable course.  Around the age of thirty a certain weariness and realism sets in, as it always has, dulling the moral sense and training the person to look out for narrower interests.  A family and a mortgage seals the deal; one’s conscience is no longer a personal imperative, everything can be negotiated.   
Here is the solution, radical but necessary:  we can’t kill off these twenty-somethings, but we can contain them until they reach the age of reason.   Starting today, the government must revoke the national security clearance of anyone under thirty years of age.  Besides removing a grave national security threat, this will create jobs for older Americans.   The newly unemployed should be sent home to their parents, and kept under surveillance until they come of age.  
The military presents special problems.  It has always relied heavily on the physical strength and stamina of very young people.  But military demands are changing rapidly.  It doesn’t take a buff athlete to sit in an ergonomic chair all day, aiming drones at cars that may be carrying terrorists far away.   For the really tough jobs, the ones with explosions like you see in the movies, the military could rely on an “older, bolder” force of retired athletes and Hollywood stuntmen.   They are out there, their consciences already reshaped by years of reckless obedience, loyal and eager for action.  
How about it, older Americans?  Are we ready to face the enemy within?    
-- Copyright 2013 by Tom Phillips

Photo left: Author with grandchild ;  which would you trust??