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Are You Secure?

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Do you feel secure right now? I don’t mean just a pastel yellow on the Homeland Security rainbow. I mean are you safe, shielded, and sheltered from the new dangers and uncertainties of the twenty-first century?

The answer should be easy. The Cold War, with its fear of nuclear missiles and warheads, is well over. We haven’t had a second major terrorist attack in almost four years. We marched on Baghdad are conquered Saddam Hussein with minimal American casualties. We have a larger and more powerful military force than the next five or six political powers combined. And throughout the second half of the twentieth century, national security meant the absence of major war. So we all should be feeling secure.

But most Americans are not feeling secure. And that is because the realities of the twenty-first century, unlike the twentieth, do not lend themselves to military solution. Security in this new age must be understood much differently than just a few years ago. Globalization opens up new economic opportunities but it is costing traditional jobs. The information revolution explosively expands knowledge and learning, but it’s destroying familiar networks and relationships. Nations are collapsing. Tribes and gangs take their place. And rag-tag insurgents in Iraq are going to defy the greatest military power in the world for many years to come.

If you’ve lost your job, you are not secure. If your community’s largest employer moves to Bangladesh, you are not secure. If your children are contaminated by pollution, you are not secure. If your son has to fight for oil in the Persian Gulf so your neighbor can drive his Humvee, you’re feeling very insecure.

So let’s begin to think about security, including homeland, national, and international security, much differently and more broadly than ever before. Let’s begin to think about security of livelihood, security of community, security of the environment, security of energy, and the security of thoughtful politics, as well as traditional military security, if we are serious about achieving genuine security anytime soon.