What role should America’s ideals play in its national security policy?What role should America’s ideals play in its national security policy?

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lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will probably get a lot of opinions on this one, and here is mine. I believe that in our current world climate in which we have terrorists trying to eliminate America from the face of the earth, it can be dangerous to our national security to rely too much on ideals and not on the reality of life in teh 21st century. For example, an important ideal on which our country was founded was that ours was a country that believed in "land of the free, home of the brave." Land of the free meant that our country was open to all. If people wanted to work hard and join America in our goals, welcome aboard! However, we cannot have such an idealistic "open border" policy now since 9/11. That is what allowed the terrorists to come into our country, sign up for flight lessons and download lessons on bomb-making from the Internet.

In addition, our curent economy is in crisis. So, can we afford to allow anyone to come into the country and become a strain on our education systems, hospitals, etc.? We used to be able to reply with an unqualified "yes" -- but now, it's a little trickier to rely only on this ideal. If we have a collapsed economy, it will affect national security in a negative way because we will not be able to supply the military with what they need. This is already the case.

This is a complicated subject, and we must also be careful that we do not bury our ideals in a pit of national security hysteria. It is not OK, I don't think, to become barbaric in the interests of getting information from prisoners - such as using torture - and yet, we are not playing on an even field. Our enemies do not share our ideals, so while we can say that ideally, "Americans do not resort to torture" -- our enemies are not following the same rules. My son is in the military and as part of his training, he had to go to survival school where they taught him how to resist torture for as long as possible. I find this horrible to even think about as a mother, and yet, that is the reality of life in the 21st century.

I hope our ideals will be an important part of decision making by our government, but at the same time, I don't want some fanatic terrorist torturing MY son and if I had to hold the terrorist's head under water to find out where the terrorists were holding my son, I think I would do it. The problem is, where do we stop? We don't want to become animals - so it becomes a moral dilemma for us. How far do we follow our ideals when national security is at risk?

What do you think?