The Precarious Nature of Our Existence Since 9/11

by CYNTHIA E AYERS September 9, 2016

"Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775

Indeed - there is no peace.  There hasn't been for a very long time.  In spite of the peace that many world leaders thought was being ushered in following the destruction of the Berlin Wall, there has been no real peace.   We discovered this much too late, when our country was attacked fifteen years ago, on September 11, 2001.   

We were not really "at peace" during the years between November 1989 (when the Berlin Wall came down) and the events of 9/11 (2001).   Acts of terrorism occurred throughout the 1990s, and at least some actors were supported by one or more nation-states.   While Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan was spreading nuclear technology around the globe, North Korea and Iran (with assistance from Khan) spent the decade rattling nerves with their progress on the nuclear weapons front. The Iranian regime continues to act aggressively in the belief that the United States has been in a state of war with them since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.  Similarly, North Korea's dynastic rulers have used the notion of a war that never ended to poke, prod, threaten and try to provoke the United States.  

Do we still have liberty?  Perhaps it's a matter of perspective.   President Lincoln predicted that if war were to come to the shores of America, it would spring from within - a form of national suicide.   Unfortunately, the partisan politics of our day would seem to add credence to that notion.   The scandals of late have people wondering if we are sitting in abeyance like proverbial boiling frogs while our liberties are being systematically destroyed.   

We fear more substantial and lethal attacks on the homeland, and the rising tide of global unrest may portend such events. There are credible threats from external sources of intent to attack us internally.  Regardless, decisions recently made by U.S. leadership have raised concern as to whether we have already succumbed to the desires of our enemies. 

No sane individual in Western civil society wants war.  War is an vicious, destructive process in which disputes are generally terminated only long enough to re-arm.  Miraculously, our country has, for the most part, escaped the violence of war on our soil for 150 years (relative to the turmoil that other countries have long endured).    

Warfare can now be waged by virtually anyone, anytime, anywhere for a multitude of reasons.  The nature of modern warfare is such that hundreds of millions can be destroyed by the simple act of removing the technology which has evolved to support civilization.  Any adversary -- no matter what size -- given the right information, tools, and opportunity, can potentially achieve a large-scale, quick and easy, long-term victory over a larger, more heavily resourced opponent.   They only need to successfully target the opponent's Achilles Heel - their critical electric infrastructure (the grid).  The consequences of a catastrophic attack on the U.S. grid would far surpass the events of 9/11 -- we could lose up to 90% of our population, and ultimately lose our sovereignty.

Virtually all of our adversaries have this kind of pre-emptive, "first strike" in their military doctrine.  Capabilities have been tested.  If our country sustains a major attack on the grid, the degree to which we survive (with or without rights and freedoms intact), is anyone's guess.  Major General (retired) Patrick Brady, a Medal of Honor recipient, declared that America cannot survive if our people are not patriots.  We are in need of more patriots.   

In case you, like so many critics of one of the recent political convention speeches, find that I'm painting a "dark" view of the world, consider this:  One must peer into the darkness to find truth - once you have the truth, you can deal with more effectively with reality.   President Lincoln stated:  "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." 

It's becoming increasingly obvious that ‘the people' have not been, and are not being told the truth.  If our country is to survive the current threats to our national security, we need "the real facts."  The precarious nature of our existence - fifteen years after 9/11 - is such that we must ask for, and indeed demand, the truth.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Cynthia E. Ayers is currently Deputy to the Executive Director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security. Prior to accepting the Task Force position, she served as Vice President of EMPact Amercia, having retired from the National Security Agency after over 38 years of federal service.


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