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(Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series explaining how the United States remains vulnerable to attack, despite its global military imperium.)

The United States has bases around the world. That did not prevent 9/11, and there is a credible argument that our bases in Saudi Arabia provoked that particular attack. But that is not entirely germane to this column. Rather, the question is: In the absence of a Soviet Union that requires global vigilance, are the American people truly defended by an expensive global military presence?

This is not a question of “intervention” or “overreach.” We should want to know: What does the global military presence actually accomplish? And does whatever that is actually defend the American people?

This week, I will establish the parameters for examining our current defense posture. Next week I will conclude with an analysis of whether the American people are actually defended and, if not, what we can do to defend them.

To defend ourselves is to protect our homeland and our people from aggression. The focus is on denying our enemies access to our territory.

The old slogan that “the most dangerous place in the world is between a Marine and his country” is an example of that mindset. Another objective is to prevent the enemy from directly impacting the lives of the American people; this can include obstructing the enemies’ ability to interact with American people or deceiving the enemy into targeting areas where their efforts will be in vain. Denying an opponent access to your county is purely defensive; it does not threaten anyone, and is usually not directed at any particular country. It is situational.

If that fails, the duty of the government is damage mitigation. This involves immediate measures and providing refuge for the people. This can be the deployment of the U.S. military to intercept the enemy or repel it, which would require that the U.S. military is strong enough in North America to accomplish that. Additionally, the people must have areas of safety to which they can retreat where the government’s power can protect them from national enemies. Of course, the people would need to know the whereabouts of those areas.

Further, there is no guarantee that the people would be able to reach those areas in time in case of an attack using EMPs, biological, chemical or atomic weapons. In those situations, the government has to provide the people with the tools necessary to survive ­– to the extent possible – the initial failure to prevent a successful enemy attack on the United States.

Finally, the government must identify the sources of American power and American vulnerability. The people must be educated about these issues to ensure they understand the behavior of their government and are willing to support the measures necessary for their defense. The government must strengthen the sources of American power and tighten security where the American nation is vulnerable.

With this understanding, we can ask the question: Is the current posture of the American defense establishment really protecting the American people?

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