A comment attributed to an opponent of the proposed Foreign Affairs Security Training Center in Ruthsburg just about says it all. After professing his support of the national security mission of the facility, the recent resident of Queen Anne’s County added: “I just don’t want it in my backyard.”
That the Training Center has encountered strong resistance on the politically conservative Eastern Shore of Maryland comes as no surprise. Even though so-called conservatives are more likely than their liberal counterparts to endorse the need to improve the security training of diplomats and their security officers, they are no more likely to want to inconvenience themselves in any way to make that possible. The proposition that national security and defense is in any way a common duty and shared responsibility is fading from the American consciousness.
America now fights its wars with little sense of sacrifice among the general populace. Taxes are not increased; war bonds are not sold. The fighting and dying is done by volunteers drawn primarily from the lower economic strata of our society, men and women who, when they leave military service, will struggle to find jobs and are unlikely to be able to enjoy the bucolic life in Ruthsburg to which the opponents of the Training Center aspire.
The idea that the benefits of a free and secure society can be enjoyed without sharing its burdens is corroding what little is left of our civic mindedness. We do not bother to understand and have lost interest in decisions by elected leaders that may have cataclysmic effects elsewhere in the world, but which have consequences to only a handful of American citizens willing to risk their own personal safety, and their families. Support for our troops is loud and profuse, but often is little more than lip service.
Tourists from Queen Anne’s County will travel around the world, demanding service from and, on occasion, protection by American embassy and consular employees. International terrorism has made duty in embassies and consulates more dangerous than ever. We expect the employees that staff the embassies and consulates to be well-trained, as long as their training does not inconvenience us in the least. We want to be protected and defended, so long as we are not bothered by the effort.
January 24, 2010