Wednesday June 17, 2015
Inevitably the debate over issues that relate to both national security and domestic law enforcement often become mired down in wrangling over legal or constitutional niceties, which the public has difficulty in following as it fixates instead on the latest twist in the Bruce Jenner saga. That means that the punditry and media concentrate on easily digestible issues like potential bureaucratic fixes, budgeting, equipment and training, which presumably are both simpler to understand and also more susceptible to possible remedies. But they ignore some basic questions regarding the nature and viability of the actual threat and the actual effectiveness of the response even as the dividing line between military and law enforcement functions becomes less and less evident.
There has been a fundamental transformation of the roles of both police and the armed services in the United States, a redirection that has become increasingly evident since the 1990s when the conjoined issues of national security and crime rates became political footballs. Response to terrorism and “tough on crime” attitudes frequently employ the same rhetoric, incorporating both political and social elements that place police forces and the military on the same side in what might plausibly be described as a version of the often cited clash of civilizations.
A nation’s army traditionally exists to use maximum force to find and destroy enemies that threaten the homeland. A police force instead serves to protect the community against criminal elements using the minimum force necessary to do the job. Those roles would appear to be distinct but one might reasonably argue that the armed forces and the police in today’s America have become the two major constituents of the same organism more-or-less connected by a revolving door, dedicated to combating a new type of insurgency that comprises both global and domestic battlefields and is no respecter of borders.