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America the Undefended: The flawed assumption at the heart of US homeland defense


Army.ca Fixture
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Just before COVID-19 shuttered the world, I submitted an essay to a publication. The editor kindly dismissed the essay in large part over my inclusion of one historical fact about New Zealand. I had written,

New Zealand hasn’t always been safe. Many have chosen to forget, but Aotearoa (the Maori term for the land today known as “New Zealand”) was invaded in the mid-nineteenth century. Thousands were killed in the multi-decades-long colonial wars that resulted in the Maori losing their land. The more-recent political entity known as “New Zealand” faced potential invasion in the mid-twentieth century. When the Japanese threat came, the inhabitants of New Zealand again weren’t prepared for external threats.
His reason to cut this specific paragraph and ultimately kill the piece? “I’m just not convinced that history is relevant to the present.”

I call this “The Assumption.” To paraphrase: Those nightmare scenarios are far in the distant past. They have nothing to tell us about today. Nobody would ever strike a distant country’s home population nowadays. It’ll never happen again. We in the wealthy Western world are safe at home and always will be.

Americans in particular believe The Assumption. It’s as widespread as it is dangerous and represents a flaw that’s left America vulnerable to modern threats. In the end, the real problem with homeland defense is that far too many believe the homeland’s already well defended, that “Fortress America” is locked down, when nothing could be farther from the truth.



Full Member
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I see the editor in question isn't familiar with George Santayana. Sad.


Army.ca Veteran
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Can not argue with the assumptions that have been made. Is there American political will? More importantly, is there an agreement that the threat to America is so grave that pork-barreling will replace reality. Time (or circumstances) will tell.