It’s a presidential election year, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Candidates are talking about health care, education, day care, economic stimulus packages, unemployment benefits — you name it. Almost every political issue imaginable is on the radar screen, including all of the above and dozens of others that have nothing to do with constitutionally limited government.
And yet there is one topic I am not hearing addressed that is eminently a matter of federal responsibility under the Constitution while also representing the gravest threat we as a nation face. That is the matter of nuclear terrorism.
The conventional wisdom of those in power in the U.S. suggests this ultimate danger to the very life and health of our country can be contained by controlling nuclear proliferation.
Yet according to some experts, the genie is already out of the bottle — for good. David Dastych, a former CIA operative and nuclear expert, is one of those warning that proliferation "has slipped out of control completely." Nuclear technology has been sold.
Indeed, many nuclear weapons have been sold. It is nearly impossible to know, at this point, reports Dastych, who might already have their hands on small nuclear weapons ready for deployment by terrorists.
That alarming report, coupled with another commissioned by the U.S. Congress on preparedness for a mega-attack on American soil, offers citizens very little reason to put their faith in government for protection, despite the untold billions spent on "homeland security."
The latter report found the U.S. military simply isn’t prepared for a catastrophic attack on the country — a nuclear Katrina, if you will — and National Guard forces don’t have the equipment or training they need for the job. According to The Associated Press, the report also found that even fewer Army National Guard units are ready for combat right now than were ready nearly a year ago, when the Commission on the National Guard and Reserves determined that 88 percent of the units were not prepared for the fight.
The AP goes on to report, "The commission’s 400-page report concludes that the nation ‘does not have sufficient trained, ready forces available’ to respond to a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons incident, ‘an appalling gap that places the nation and its citizens at greater risk.’"
"Right now, we don’t have the forces we need. We don’t have them trained. We don’t have the equipment," commission Chairman Arnold Punaro told the AP. "Even though there is a lot going on in this area, we need to do a lot more. … There’s a lot of things in the pipeline, but in the world we live in, you’re either ready or you’re not."
Punaro, a retired Marine Corps major general, criticized U.S. Northern Command, the military unit tasked with developing viable response plans for attacks against the homeland.
"NorthCom has got to get religion in this area," said Punaro.
This nuclear terrorist threat, which has been referred to as an inevitability by many top U.S. officials in moments of candor, is like the elephant in the room no one in our political system wants to see. Unfortunately, pretending that our biggest problems are unaffordable health care or even a sluggish economy is just that — pretending, wishful thinking.
In fact, since Tom Tancredo bowed out of the presidential race, not one candidate has made planning ahead for this disastrous threat a significant priority in his or her campaign. No one wants to think about the unthinkable — no matter how likely it is we will face the unthinkable at some point in the not-too-distant future.
So that leaves it up to you, as an individual, to think about it — to make your plans, to get organized, to prepare for the worst-case scenario.