Paradigm: A worldview underlying the theories and methodology of a particular scientific subject
Arguably, the 21st Century is the beginning of a new era in global thought and interactions and that Americans need to “…stop thinking of ourselves as ‘post’ something – postcolonial, postwar, post-Cold War, post-post-post-Cold War. Those eras are meaningless.” (Thomas L. Friedman, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, p. 27) In this supposed new era following 9/11, American strategic thought has shifted. The nation’s security strategy is no longer outward looking, it has become more holistic with both an external and internal view. There is now an understanding that security issues outside the U.S. affects the security within the U.S.
After ten years following the end of the Cold War, the strategic paradigm shifted in 2001 and resulted in a new strategic concept called “homeland security.” One may even argue that this security paradigm shift is comparable to, or the result of, the end of the Cold War and the increased threat from radicalized terrorism.
Now the debate continues on how this paradigm shift affected the concepts of what homeland security means and what it entails. Public perception has shifted with this paradigm and it is now considered part of the American security apparatus.
…or is there really a new paradigm? Did we really feel the shift?
We still don’t have this shit right. Ten years after 9/11 and those responsible for making the country safer (I don’t mean the po-leese or the military…I mean policymakers and analysts) are still trying their damndest to develop a real homeland security strategy.
For those of you keeping score at home, the last version of the National Homeland Security Strategy was issued in 2007 and the Obama Administration issued a National Security Strategy in 2010. And…DHS has recently fessed up to what it is still working on…or ignoring (maybe if you ignore it, it will go away).
- REAL ID still isn’t enacted (even though it is congressionally mandated…but inadequately funded, plus it sounds sort of po-leese stateish),
- risk-based airport screening is not happening (but TSA will touch your junk),
- cyberattack strategies are nonexistent (don’t you dare call it “cyberwar” or I will cyber-kick-your-ass),
- firefighers and the po-leese still can’t communicate (partly because they hate each other based on history and culture…why can’t we all get along?),
- biometric exit solution has no solution (okay…I have no idea what a biometric exit solution is, doubt DHS knows either, but that shit is broken too), and
- Mexican drug cartel spillover violence is spilling over (damn them for coming here and disturbing us while we are snorting our coke).
Supposed smart people have not only issued the national and homeland security strategies, but there is also the:
- Strategic Plan – One Team, One Mission, Securing Our Homeland;
- Quadrennial Homeland Security Review;
- DHS’ Bottom-Up Review; and
- National Strategy for Counterterrorism.
What do all these strategic documents have in common? They all identify goals that may make the homeland more secure. What do they not have in common? Similar (prioritized) goals that could secure the nation. There is very little consensus among these documents. Additionally, none of them define the term “homeland security” in a similar manner.
If we do not have a common, or agreed-to, definition for the term “homeland security” and we don’t have a consensus on the nation’s homeland security goals, how do we actually do it? These documents do not consistently address risk mitigation associated with the full range of homeland security threats. Also, there is no, or little, debate on the resource and fiscal costs associated with preparing for low risk, high consequence threats.
So…where does this leave us? Well, what we got here is a failure to communicate. Until we take a nice, long, deep breath and take a moment to review what (the Hell) homeland security is, we will continue to have a disjointed and disparate approach to homeland security policy. It will continue to seem like every crisis and disaster is reacted to in an ad hoc manner, and the public (voters) will continue to wonder WTF is going on.
Defining homeland security, and specifically homeland security strategy, is difficult. However, it can be addressed in simple terms that provide a basis upon which a real strategy could be developed. Specifically, a national homeland security strategy is an ever-evolving process which couples a nation-state’s resources with realistic courses of action to achieve the nation-state’s prioritized homeland security policy objectives (goals) which advance national interests.
No prioritized goals equals no strategy. No strategy means limited security. Limited security means sending in the troops in a knee-jerk fashion. Too much reliance on law enforcement and the military results in a po-leese state. But the balancing of a po-leese state (don’t touch my junk) and insecurity is hard. Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, recently addressed this subject at a talk at the Heritage Foundation. Basically, the drive to militarize U.S. response to terrorism, both domestically and internationally, results in confusion and counters the basic tenets of the American legal system. The more we rely on the military, or a militarized po-leese force, the more we move away from addressing individual homeland security threats and focus only on a one-size-fits-all response (we can afford to send in the troops everytime right? right?).
Get the goals prioritized; realistic security will follow (free your mind and yo’ ass will follow)….oh and this can be done without putting troops on the streets. Double plus good!