Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 3, 2013

Us versus them

Filed under: Radicalization,Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on October 3, 2013

Sunnis continue to target Shia in Iraq.   The reverse is also alleged.  (Deadly suicide bombings.)

In Syria Sunni dominate the insurgency as the regime works to wrap itself in the support of most others. Some even see the US as allied with Assad in anti-Sunni animus.  (Same fight against radical Islam.)

In Kenya Shabaab did what it could to underline the difference between Muslim, Christian, and Hindu.  (Though many insist they failed.)

Buddhists are killing Muslims in Burma (Myanmar). (Sectarian Violence.)

India and Pakistan were founded in sectarian strife.  These differences continue to complicate the relations of two nuclear-armed neighbors. (Hindu-Muslim Clashes)

A Christian and/or animist South confronts a Muslim North in Nigeria and across much of the Sahel. (Extremist killings, tight security.)

Threats against Jews are so common as to be widely neglected. (Global Antisemitism)

In the Philippines the division is between a Christian North and a Muslim South. (New clash raises fears.)  In Thailand a Muslim South contends with a Buddhist North. (Savage escalation threatened.)

Modern notions of self-martyrdom were forged as Buddhist Sinhalas confronted Hindu Tamils.  The tension persists. (Tamil abuses denied.)

The list could easily continue tediously long.  In many cases the religious differences amplified by ethnic, tribal, and class distinctions.  Demography as destiny?

Paul Tillich a German-American-Christian-Protestant-Existentialist scholar wrote:

God is being-itself.  After this has been said nothing else can be said about God as God which is not symbolic… Therefore if anything beyond this bare assertion is said about God it is no longer a direct and proper statement, no longer a concept. It is indirect pointing to something beyond itself: symbolic. (Systematic Theology)

Confusing the symbolic as being-itself is common.

Most of our antagonisms do not arise from any profound discovery of substantive ontological distinction.  Rather we fuss and fight over superficial symbols that, as much as anything else, distract us from the much more taxing task of engaging with being-itself.  This is the case well beyond the religious or spiritual and is especially true of the political.

There are broadly two strategic options: Persist with symbolic arguments (religion vs. religion, faith vs. science, conviction vs. conviction, etc. vs. etc.) or resist symbolism and insist on dealing with being itself.  The first strategy involves arguing between answers.  The second involves asking questions.  Neither is easy.

It may just be my conviction, but I perceive the second option — dealing with being-itself — is more likely to have lasting outcomes.

October 2, 2013

Obamacare and Resilience

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on October 2, 2013

Obviously, the federal government shutdown is garnering a lot of media attention.  Running a close second is Obamacare – both as the point of contention in Congressional deliberations and the opening of the health care insurance exchanges that occurred yesterday.

What has been largely, if not completely, ignored is the impact on the resilience that comes with the implementation of this new health care law. You can agree or disagree with the policy levers utilized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA – though both sides of the debate resort to using the term “Obamacare”), regardless it aims to achieve the goal of providing millions with affordable medical insurance.   This is not only good for individuals’ health and economic outcomes, but it improves our overall resilience.

Kevin Horahan, an analyst with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR), described this outcome in an ASPR blog post:

People who are healthy before a disaster strikes are more likely to remain healthy during and after a disaster, and they are less likely to need the kinds of care that you can only get in an emergency room. When people are healthier to begin with, they are most likely going to be more resilient during a disaster situation.

Community resilience – the sustained ability of a community to withstand and recover from adversity – is improved when its members are better able to withstand and recover from adversity. Health is a key part of community resilience. By increasing access to coverage and affordable care for millions of people, we also help our communities become more resilient.

Having actual insurance is a very positive end unto itself.  However, what could potentially be even better is an increased awareness of one’s (or loved one’s or friends or neighbors) potential medical vulnerabilities and the ability to possibly address them without professional assistance in an emergency.  I touched on this concept in an earlier paper:

In order to begin the process of developing community medical resiliency it must first be recognized that it is a specific subset of this concept. It is about having the knowledge to not be a demand on the health care system. The medical care of citizens has been the exclusive domain of the health care community with no expectation by the general public that they can provide for themselves after an incident. This limited perspective has led to the unreasonable expectation that during large scale medical events citizens must seek medical care via their traditional avenues such as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and emergency departments. There has been little or no effort to provide the citizens with the basic education, expertise, or knowledge which could sustain themselves, their families and neighbors for even a short period of time during an emerging crisis.

Reducing the demand side of the equation will require a shift beyond the conventional concepts of community preparedness. Individuals will need to be educated to develop personal responsibility for their own healthcare and those within their family.

The very debate on the merits of health insurance likely increases resiliency.  Purchasing needed insurance from an exchange definitely does.  And learning about what impact, if any, that Obamacare will have on an individual’s life should be viewed as another potential lever by officials concerned about this issue at all levels of government.

October 1, 2013


Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 1, 2013


« Previous Page