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A Citizen’s Response to the National Security Strategy

Publication: Orion Magazine, March/April 2003

Author: Wendell Berry


THE NEW NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY published by the White House in September 2002, if carried out, would amount to a radical revision of the political character of our nation. Its central and most significant statement is this:

While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists… (p. 6)

A democratic citizen must deal here first of all with the question, Who is this “we”? It is not the “we” of the Declaration of Independence, which referred to a small group of signatories bound by the conviction that “governments [derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed.” And it is not the “we” of the Constitution, which refers to “the people [my emphasis] of the United States.” …

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