Early yesterday, my mother pre-emptively mourned the death of South Korean hostage Kim Sun-il and my father stated simply that the terrorists were painfully misguided if they believed this hostage scenario would make South Korea do anything. He knew that South Korean leaders would, following the American model, refuse to negotiate with terrorists and that, if nothing else, we are a stubborn and proud people. But perhaps more importantly than these motivating factors, South Korea had made a promise of troops to the United States and unlike its northern counterpart, South Korea does not break promises to the US. In one way or another, they have been in the palm of American leaders for over fifty years now. Of course, you would think that of all countries, South Korea would question the ability of the US to set up a working democracy. You would think that the ghost of long lost North Korean brothers and sisters would haunt South Korean leaders.
What has our government gotten us, and the world, into? There was once a time when a Roman citizen could walk the earth without the danger of being touched because of the fear of Rome’s retribution. I would argue that an American citizen once enjoyed that same privilege. But today, our citizens and now even those of our allies pay the ultimate price in this attempt to bring freedom to an unprepared and uncooperative people. If this war has shown us anything, it has shown us not only the failure of the US to bring democracy by force, but also the failure of the US to protect its people throughout the world. While the Department of Homeland Security clamors to protect our borders and shield us from foreign attacks, the blanket of protection once provided by fear of US military force and retribution has been taken away from Americans throughout the world. We are hated and disrespected and being a citizen of the last superpower on earth can no longer keep us safe. Many think of the September 11th attacks as evidence that American borders are not impenetrable. I believe they also showed us that American citizenship is no longer invincible.
I mourn for the families, friends, and countrymen of Kim, Johnson, Berg and others we have lost in one way or another during this war. I mourn for America’s place in this world. We may be the richest country in the world, but each day, we lose the respect of our allies, our enemies and in the end, perhaps our own people.