opinion from the late,

great, golden state...

CRO Main Page

by J. F. Kelly, Jr. | Coronado It will come as a surprise to no one that President-elect Barrack Obama was not my choice for president. During the campaign, I and many others expressed concern over his lack of experience and thin political resume. I also criticized his very liberal voting record while in the Illinois Legislature and during his partial term in the U.S. Senate. But Mr. Obama campaigned hard and brilliantly and his message of hope and change resonated, especially with young voters who turned out in record numbers. He also was dominant in the presidential debates over an earnest but rather stiff and uninspiring Sen. John McCain whose campaign never really seemed to gather momentum and whose maverick reputation could not overshadow the widespread perception that he represented four more years of the much-maligned President George W. Bush. Mr. Obama won convincingly and it is time now for all Americans to rally around the next commander-in-chief and to offer support and prayers. He will certainly need them as he and his team cope with the problems and challenges that await him. Few American presidents have inherited problems of the magnitude that he faces. Many of those problems that were blamed on his predecessor were at least as much the fault of Congress but placing blame is not a productive use of time and energy just now. It is widely reported in the media and believed by the public that the most urgent task of the new president is to deal with the sick economy and broken financial system. Urgent as that task may be, the security of America and its citizens must be his number one priority. As he has wisely said, a president must be able to deal with more than one crisis at a time. Still, threats must be prioritized and resources allocated accordingly. Americans will survive the current depression as they have others in the past and hopefully emerge stronger. The financial system will be repaired in time. But the threat posed by of terrorism will remain for the foreseeable future and we remain vulnerable to devastating acts of terrorism. Some authorities assign a 50% or higher probability of a major act of terrorism in the United States in the next five years. The recent atrocities in Mumbai perpetrated by Islamic fundamentalists that targeted a Jewish Center and hotels and restaurants frequented by Westerners reminds us that Americans and Jews in particular are potential targets of radical Muslim hatred wherever they may be. Mr. Bush, to his credit, has kept us free from domestic attacks since 9/11. Many, however, have been thwarted thanks to intelligence and the much-demonized Patriot Act But all that could change in an instant. We remain particularly vulnerable with respect to so-called soft targets like malls, hospitals, churches and schools which are very difficult to secure. Recall the panic caused by school shooters acting alone. Imagine the public reaction to a coordinated series of suicide attacks on schools, hospitals, churches and malls. Imagine, too, the panic that would result from the use of biological or chemical agents or nuclear devices. These are not unrealistic scenarios. Ask any reputable expert on terrorism. The decision to give the Department of Defense a greater role in homeland security and to train the military to respond to domestic terrorist attacks is long overdue and hopefully will receive the support of Mr. Obama. Critics will warm of the dangers of a militarized society and point to the ancient and outdated Posse Comitatus Act which restricts the military role in domestic law enforcement. But combating terrorists who will blow themselves up to kill innocent Americans for the purpose of weakening and eventually destroying our society is not just a matter of law enforcement. It is the new reality of warfare and it needs to be met with all the resources we can muster including those of the military. Those resources are currently overextended and need to be increased, especially if the military mission is expanded Mr. Obama’s selections for his national security team are reassuring. Retaining Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is especially prudent, given the need for continuity as we wind down in Iraq and confront a worsening situation in Afghanistan. The appointment of former Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Jones as National Security Director also suggests that he takes the threats to our security very seriously. All Americans should. CRO copyright 2008 J.F. Kelly, Jr. J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California.

Leave a Reply