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Elements of the Tea Party concerned with the nature of liberty and the disintegration of Constitutionally limited governance have been hijacked by an ideologically paranoid sentiment. While Tea Partiers are rightfully wary of government nit-picking in economic and personal affairs, some libertarian and anti-war members have linked the same caution to the only role in which government is Constitutionally justified to act—national security. Whether the matter is radical Islam or cyberspace, any attempt by the government to expand the net of surveillance to the civilian population is lambasted as tyrannical. In particular, the May 17th WSJ article “Tea Party Terror Flakeout” noted that tea partier Justin Amash wanted “to bar the U.S. Military from capturing, detaining, or interrogating any terrorist of any nationality captured on American soil.”
Without even taking an ideological position, it should be obvious that preventing the military from pursuing a terrorist on our soil is absolute insanity. If our military travels across the globe to capture and detain Taliban members, so they can find and stop their plots to launch attacks, the Left screeches that we are imperial oppressors out for blood. If our military doesn’t move at all, and detains a vetted Taliban member in America, libertarians screech that with such power any American citizen could be forcibly detained. Does it take a genius to know that both positions are dangerous and naïve? What is the point of our national security forces except to pursue threats wherever they go, and whoever they may be? How can anyone anticipate whether the next jihadist plot will be designed by a person living in Qatar or New Jersey? In both sentiments, from the Left and some libertarians, lies a serious flaw of reasoning when it comes to the Constitution and the role of a national military force.
Tea Partiers understand the gist of the Constitution, and yet people who join or sympathize with the Tea Party charge that there is some Constitutionally-limited condition regarding national security. Such a notion is entirely false, as the central executive position of the Presidency also entails the role of Commander-and-Chief and the primary authority to detain enemy combatants. Detention is not a testament to tyranny or unjust imprisonment. In fact, detention is crucial as a tool for both gathering intelligence and making sure the detainees do not return to aid the enemy during wartime.
Of legitimate concern are the instances in history where the powers of the Presidency were abused and the definition of “combatant” redefined to encompass unvetted civilians—such as FDR and the Japanese internment camps. The finagling of words by FDR and the legitimate powers of the Presidency are two different matters, however. In Korematsu v. United States (1944), instead of upholding the Fifth Amendment, and without any constitutional basis, the Supreme Court approved FDR’s unfounded decision for all Americans of Japanese descent to be placed into internment camps simply because of their race, rather than any legitimate national security threats (if individuals were associated with an enemy during wartime, the vetting process and detainment would be a legitimate executive power, but this was not the case). The activist Court justified enslavement based upon their own fallacious opinions and with complete disregard to the clear language of the Constitution. With this example in mind, right-leaning opponents to neoconservatives should recognize this historical stain as an instance of judicial activism rather than military overreach. In fact, the process of military protocol would probably have done more to prevent such an injustice from taking place by properly vetting and releasing the civilians.
The danger of modern politicians redefining the terms of the Constitution should be taken seriously, but the same concern should not inhibit the necessary duties of the military. The Founding Fathers and authors of the Federalist papers—Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay—explicitly countered the view that the Constitution enables the creation of a miltary establishment, regardless of the paranoia that the neoconservative view necessitates a breach of constitutional principle. As Alexander Hamilton said in Federalist No. 23, the Constitution does not give the federal government too much power to manage national interests, and on that matter the federal government should have as much flexibility and power as possible to defend the country. The insight of this thinking is clear in 2012, as new threats linked to technology and new power dynamics force our military to adjust considerably.
The thought that U.S. citizens are breeding a threat by supporting military efforts ignores the necessity of a reasonable, efficient security for liberty and free enterprise. Many people forget that the Navy and Coast Guard are significant for protecting commercial vessels and ships that transport food and other products. Since piracy is far from dead, people can only traffic their wares legally and safely when they are guaranteed protection on the sea.
By its very nature, the rule of law and national defense is coupled with the allowance of maximized liberty. A land-based example is the situation of a family living in a gang-infested neighborhood. With the sound of gunfire outside and bullets coming through the windows, how freely do you suppose those people can walk outside and do anything at all, even in their own homes? Such people are literally hostages living in fear. The Founding Fathers emphasized the importance of a republican establishment to prevent such a lifestyle, since the rule of law is the basic protection a citizen has against the crimes of someone else.
On a national scale, our military is no different—they act as the law enforcement that specifically protects U.S. citizens from the large-scale plots individual states cannot handle separately. The proponents saying that U.S. citizens who receive training from the Taliban should be tried in civilian courts surely do not have good intentions. There is a detailed vetting process that specifically determines whether the individual “is part of or supporting forces hostile to the United States or coalition partners, and engaged in an armed conflict against the United States.” (Rasul v. Bush). An individual determined to not be an enemy combatant is released by the military, so by all means, if there’s nothing to hide, there’s nothing to it. Unfortunately, radical Islamic jihadists are being tried—and briefly released—from civilian courts.
The recent example of Terek Mehanna, a Massachusetts resident who plotted to attack the Natick Mall after receiving training from the Taliban, is a case in point. “Mehanna and the co-conspirators had multiple conversations about obtaining automatic weapons and randomly shooting people in a shopping mall, and the conversations went so far as to discuss the logistics of a mall attack, including coordination, weapons needed and the possibility of attacking emergency responders,”, the Justice Department said. He will still be quite young and healthy when he is released. If a second 9/11 happens and he ends up being one of the bombers, I’d like to see if the idiots who had him tried in civilian court will blow it off or admit that they let off a serial murderer. That’s not a fault of the justice system, that’s the fault of people who do not trust the military court system to properly handle a situation that was clearly in their jurisdiction.
The onus is on those with an ingrained bias against the fair judgments of our military leaders, and a paranoia on the nature of law enforcement. For some, this assessment is made with a misunderstanding of the relationship between individual liberty and law enforcement. For others, the deliberate delegitimatization of law and the military is contingent with the goals of anarchy and Communism.
Communist leader Leon Trotsky seethed that conservatives are “constantly…interested in the maintenance of ‘order’ in every corner of the terrestrial globe”. Indeed, anarchy—the motto “All Walls Must Fall”—is directly related to the destruction of the current order, and a subsequent replacement by “revolution”. With this idea in mind, the categorization of “anarchy” as the extreme right is completely false. Anarchy is not an end to itself, and it does not reflect a dissatisfaction with government—it represents a desire to overturn the rule of law and call for a radical dismantling of society. Such an outcome suits the sentiment and agendas of socialists and Communists who call for “global governance”, “a new world order” and openly condone violence as a means of “revolution”(which has been on full display recently with OWS attacks on banks). Following along the same lines, it shouldn’t be surprising that the same people who call for anarchy, socialism, and Communism, are the same people who want to “off the pigs” and have a specific agenda targeting police and legislation they deem “unjust”. A “right-wing” person by definition believes in the two necessary components of conservatism—the rule of law (the res publica=republic) and the defined role of the government as stated in the Constitution. The presence of a constitutionally limited republic defines the mindset of libertarians and conservatives alike. Order and security are intrinsically tied up in a belief in the constitutional republic, and pure opposition and violence, notwithstanding legitimate arguments concerning crime and lawlessness in law enforcement and the courts, show anarchists to be true vessles of the radical Left, not the Right.
A Tea Partier who truly understands liberty and the Constitution should also understand the role of the military and law (as it is properly applied). Representative government cannot be met when even instances of fair play are deemed unconstitutional, and proponents of liberty need to understand the primary conditions that liberty requires.