Civis Americanus Sum
In ancient times the strongest words a person could utter was “Civis Romanus sum” or “I am a Roman citizen”. You could, according to legend, walk the length and breadth of the known world protected only by those words. People would refrain from harming you simply because they knew if the smallest harm came to you that the response of your government would be swift, sure, and in the case of those who did the harm, quite unpleasant.
This week we celebrate the anniversary of our Independence, the birth of one of the greatest nations on Earth.
Right now we have nations like North Korea, Iran and others where the statement Civis Ameriancus Sum might not apply. In Roman times that was never a risk, even the deadliest areas were safe.
Today however we are faced with the reality that our citizens will be captured and the decision of what to do in response. Certainly we need to balance things, there is a difference between an innocent who is unjustly captured and someone who puts themselves in harms way.
But there are and will be cases where that innocent is taken captive and we need to decide how to respond.
For too long however we have worried too much about whether everyone would approve of what we did. This is not a partisan problem as the reluctance to act has spread across both parties. So I do not want this discussion to be a ‘well Obama/Bush/Clinton/etc didn’t act’ or ‘Well finally Trump did something that Obama/Bush/Clinton/etc wouldn’t.
Rather this should be a debate over how to restore what should be the security of our citizens. It should be a case of partisanship ending at the waters edge.
I realize that we cannot send in the army to free every one of these captives and I do not dismiss the benefits of diplomacy. Diplomacy should always be the first, second, third and tenth option but there has to be a point where, as in this case, we move beyond diplomacy and act.
President Roosevelt said ‘Speak Softly But Carry A Big Stick’. I think we are pretty good at the first part, and as I have said it should always be our primary goal. But we need to take steps like we have today to show that the Big Stick is there as well.
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