National holidays like Memorial Day are good times to reflect on the commitment and sacrifices of US troops who have fought in the wars their fellow Americans have asked them to fight. It is only reasonable to expect the American People and their political leaders to honor the dedication of these men and women by the showing the same level of commitment to their Country. In the modern age, US national security hinges on more than just war while it requires commitment and sacrifice from all Americans.
Commitment and sacrifice do not mean shedding American ideals and freedoms out of convenience. They require defending the American People from those who wish to harm them while upholding human rights and civil liberties for even those who threaten us. When confronted with the reality of terrorism on September 11, 2001, the reaction was to sacrifice freedom by embracing laws like the Patriotic Act and sacrificing American values by engaging in fruitless torture of alleged criminals.
Beyond traditional military might, the US must fight for technological and economic supremacy in order to provide for national security. The growing concerns over cyber security, for example, have no easy answers. Unfortunately, the reaction has been to circumvent the aspirations of the Constitution by finding ways to amass enough data on foreigners and the American People to the point the data becomes worthless. Despite its innocent sounding name, so-called metadata can be used by skilled analysts to profile the very personality and thinking of an individual. Clearly, the ability to probe almost every American’s personal life is a breach of America’s commitment to freedom.
Furthermore, the Pentagon and the President have gone so far as to include climate change as a national security threat. Although somewhat dubious to claim the impact of climate change is a national security threat, versus more of an economic issue, the strain on natural resources and military readiness from severe weather will greatly affect the US Armed Forces. After all, humanitarian assistance has been a primary function of the US military throughout the late Twenty century. The cost and availability of raw materials and goods certainly impacts the military’s budget, which must be secured through sustainability. Budget constraints, in turn, limit the reach of the US military.
That said, the greatest economic threat to national security is a weak economy and tenuous national budget. Currently, the Country is looking to free trade as a solution, but deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership are probably too large to manage properly. More importantly, free trade can also greatly harm the US economy by deleveraging American workers and businesses.
The Obama Administration has argued undisclosed promises on requirements for minimum wage, worker rights to collective bargaining, and environmental regulation will tamper the negative effects of TPP. Although existing free trade deals will need to be recalibrated if these requirements are to have any meaning, American concerns might be eased if details on these requirements were better understood. Despite arguments claiming America’s negotiating position would be undermined by revealing details on TPP, the ability to walk away from the negotiating table is what actually gives the Obama Administration leverage over other nations.
Only if the Obama Administration is willing to say no to “free trade” can it negotiate the best trade deals. TPP negotiations will only be successful if the trade deals address the interests of average Americans and they are willing to support it. Quite frankly, the Obama Administration’s efforts to secure details on TPP from the world prevents the American People from telling the world what they will not accept in a final deal, thereby setting up TPP for failure.
Furthermore, it is important to recognize one goal of economic liberalization has been to intertwine the national economies of the world to make war far too costly for everyone. Unfortunately, this unproven theory fails to recognize war against the US is already much too costly for weaker countries, thus making war economically harmful to global economy only serves to hurt the US, if the need to go to war arises. Clearly, this undermines America’s ability to respond to the rogue behavior of aggressive and combative nations.
Taking the Ukraine Crisis as a major example, the Russian economy has been softened by Western sanctions, yet sanctions have also hurt the West. Europeans are, quite frankly, fatigued after only a year of sanctioning Russia while the US feels the need to court Russian favor and garner Russian support in the fight against the Islamic State. Clearly, the commitment and sacrifice of Europeans and Americans must be questioned when one year of tensions strain the will to safeguard the world from a government that blatantly started a war, because it could no longer manipulate the politics of its neighbor then decided to steal a large swath of territory from it.
In other words, economic interdependency has only hindered the ability of the US to address an increasingly aggressive Russia. Meanwhile, the impact on threats from stateless actors like the Islamic State is negligible to the point they tend to benefit from the economic weakness of nation-states and International Community. What this does is undermine national and global security. When commitment and sacrifice are required, the burden cannot be solely places on the US Armed Forces. Commitment and sacrifice on behalf of average citizens to stand for their freedoms and ideals when pursuing policies like TPP and facing a threat like Russian President Vladimir Putin is necessary when it comes to providing for US national security.
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