local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 public meetings

 last week

 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info
 classifieds info
 internet info
 sun valley central
 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs
Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Dec 31, 2003 - Jan 6, 2004

Opinion Columns

Sliding from open society to armed camp

Commentary by Pat Murphy

In the turbulent decades after the Cold War, when fighting erupted in Vietnam, the Middle East and in savage African uprisings, Americans escaped the ordeal of a homeland looking like an armed camp.

Then came 9/11. The reliable psychological and geographical protection of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans suddenly evaporated.

The good ol’ U.S. of A’s open society is inching gradually, remorselessly toward a Brave New World society driven by fear of attack and a people harnessed by rigid new authoritarian measures that nibble away at liberties. Traditional political criticism is now regarded as unpatriotic.

Everyday sights that’ve been part of other cultures for generations are becoming commonplace for Americans--helmeted soldiers in camouflage uniforms bearing submachine guns permanently patrolling urban airports, subways, dams, communications centers, financial centers.

Jet fighters patrol the skies of urban areas on vigil for terrorist planes or missiles. Antiaircraft missile batteries are stationed near iconic landmarks to intercept aerial intruders. Carefree pilots of small aircraft are banned from sightseeing flights over certain areas.

Federal agents prowling for terrorists are armed with "sneak and peek" powers to invade homes in search of evidence of terrorist connections. Suspects can be jailed and held without charges or legal counsel for years.

Sightseers shooting pictures of dams and nuclear plants are eyed warily as possible terrorist scouts.

Air travelers submit to searches or prolonged interrogations. Their seatmates may be armed sky marshals. Airline pilots work behind locked, reinforced steel doors.

Citizen-soldiers of the reserves and National Guard are called up for extended service; 40,000 of them in the Army, including reservists with civilian jobs and businesses back home, have received "stop-loss" orders unconditionally extending their enlistments and canceling retirement plans indefinitely.

National life is strained by an alert system of color codes that change with suspicious cell phone "chatter" of mysterious international conspirators intercepted by intelligence eavesdroppers.

(America’s heavy ownership of guns—and the world’s highest handgun homicide rate—amplifies the "armed camp" image.)

The only parallel among democratic states to the new U.S. war footing is Israel, where perpetual military staging requires all adult men and women to serve in uniform.

This, then, is the open question for Americans: If the "war on terror" continues without victory in sight, must the nation reinstate the military draft to replenish obviously inadequate military forces to meet increased demands in Iraq, Afghanistan and, possibly, for new "evil axis" war fronts targeted by President Bush?

Bush administration claims that military forces are adequate are rebuked by the Pentagon’s own orders extending enlistments and canceling retirements to maintain needed manpower.

This is certain: If a renewed draft is even discussed, mothers and fathers of draft-age children who now blithely support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and tell pollsters that combat deaths of other children are "acceptable" would suddenly become ferocious anti-war opponents of U.S. pre-emptive war-making strategies.



City of Ketchum

Formula Sports


Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.