Staff Sgt. Robert Bales sits in Leavenworth awaiting what will most likely be a conviction and death sentence for killing innocent Afghani women and children. What he did is unforgivable, and goes against everything the United States military stands for. I have seen the effects of multiple deployments on military members and their families. The high rates of suicide, domestic violence, and PTSD are evidence that there are limits to how much stress a human being can endure. Limits the military leadership has chosen to ignore. Sgt Bales is not alone in his guilt. There are many who have facilitated his transformation from an average man into a monster.
The unofficial military mission statement of “doing more with less”, the Secretaries of Defense that pushed it and the commanders who bought into it all share the blame. The dream of a “Lean Mean Fighting Machine” would only be possible if the military were staffed with robots, but it is not. It is staffed with men and women who think, feel, love and fear. Who have families and lives back home. It is their humanity that makes them vulnerable to the horrors of war, but it is also their humanity that gives them a reason to preserve the dream of liberty anywhere in the world. It gives them the courage to willingly accept that the cost of freedom could be their very lives. This courage should not be taken for granted. Every military doctor who has proclaimed a troop “fit for combat” when he should have been sent home, every commander who has proclaimed his unit ready when deep down he knew they weren’t, shares in the guilt. Every officer who has ever put his career ahead of his troops, every military leader who lacked the courage to tell his superiors the truth, that his unit was undermanned and stretched to the breaking point, shares the guilt. Every Secretary of Defense who failed to make unpopular decisions on how to increase manning, every Commander-in-Chief who was told what he wanted to hear and bought it, shares the guilt.
After all the investigations, reports and hearings, are concluded and “band-aid” recommendations are put in place we will still be left with a military that is undermanned and weary. We ask our military men and women to carry an unimaginable burden. Our military leadership owes the Afghanis and Sgt Bales’ family, who is now left without a husband and father, more than an apology. They are owed and honest assessment of what went wrong, and real solutions to prevent it from happening again. Until the people at the Pentagon find a way to bring more men and women in and retain the well-trained troops already in place, the stress of repeated deployments will create more Sgt Bales’.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment“
(U//FOUO) The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veteransfacing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks. [page 2]
(U//FOUO) Weapons rights and gun-control legislationare likely to be hotly contested subjects of political debate in light of the 2008 Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Hellerin which the Court reaffirmed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but left open to debate the precise contours of that right. Because debates over constitutional rights are intense, and parties on all sides have deeply held, sincere, but vastly divergent beliefs, violent extremists may attempt…
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On Thursday, March 1st, the Florida State legislature passed SB, 98 www.flsenate.gov /Session/Bill/2012/0098/BillText/Filed/PDFwhich gives individual school districts the freedom to allow student led “inspirational messages” during mandatory assemblies and other school sponsored events. The bill was sponsored by a Democrat,
State Senator Gary Siplin, and was overwhelmingly passed with bi-partisan support. A fact that might surprise many conservatives and Evangelicals. The bill now awaits the probable signing from Governor Rick Scott. Other states are taking notice and waiting to see how this law will play out in the practical application of public school policy.
As a Christian and a mother, I should be elated about this. Over the past few decades we have seen the First Amendment being twisted and perverted into an instrument to deny Christians the right to freely practice our beliefs in public. Activities that are actually a positive influence on campus such as the annual See You At The Pole or groups such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes are routinely banned from school property even though these activities are completely voluntary and take place outside of regular class hours. Teachers are forbidden to acknowledge their Christian beliefs on their school website bios and are reprimanded for publicly expressing their beliefs even when they are outside of the school setting. This is wrong and is in opposition to the true intent of the First Amendment.
This bill, however, is a bad idea. The bill’s only strongpoint is that it puts the authority for implementation in the hands of the individual school boards. This is right because the boards are better able to determine the needs and beliefs of their communities better than the state government can. The bill seeks to protect the schools from First Amendment litigation by giving the responsibility for choosing, who delivers the message and its content, to the discretion of the students. School officials and employees are forbidden to interfere in any way with the students’ decisions. There is absolutely no way a school board can define what constitutes an “inspirational message” without violating the rights of one group or another. These messages could be anything from a prayer or devotional to an anarchist rant, or hate group rhetoric. Any student who has an ax to grind or just simply enjoys stirring up trouble will now have a platform. Time and precious school resources would be wasted on the litigation that is sure to ensue if any school board tries to implement rules to curb the chaos.
The school system in Florida has many challenges. Fixing a broken system of accountability is one. Though it is a well-intentioned attempt at restoring morality in the school system, this law will not work. The only way to improve the quality of education in Florida or anywhere else in this country is to remind the schools that their purpose is to serve their students, parents and taxpayer supporters, not the other way around. The only way to accomplish what this bill is trying to do, is to implement school choice.