'civus Americanus Sum' On What Must Be Done To Protect Americans Abroad In Theage Of World Revolution, Terror, And Outrage Some Thoughts
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Author's program note. Are you a citizen of the United States? Do you wish to travel, live, or work outside the geographical boundaries of the nation? Do you expect to do so in confidence that, at the conclusion of your sojourn, you will return in one piece, safe and sound, not mangled remains in a flag-draped coffin, premature death and bitter tears your part and your survivors? Then this article is for you.

Lord Palmerston

Have you ever heard of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (1784-1865)? Probably not and yet this significant British statesman, often Foreign Secretary (from 1830) and Prime Minister (from1855) understood that when you travel abroad you are entitled to the protection of your government and nation. And on June 25, 1850 he gave perhaps the greatest speech ever made on the matter of what a citizen abroad may and has the right to expect.

The speech in question concerned a merchant of murky lineage named Don Pacifico, a British subject whose claims of commercial injury had been ignored by the ramshackle Greek government of its day; (some things seem never to change.) He had a smoldering grievance and in due course this grievance came to the attention of the British government of Lord John Russell which in the usual way of such entities did -- nothing; sloth, a blind eye, and soothing banalities being their response to the pleas and cries for assistance of the exigent Pacifico and his irksome matter, so important to him, so boring and tedious for the ministers.

Palmerston took this unpromising situation and, with an eye of genius, turned it into a great pronouncement on what citizenship means and what must be done to assist such people in their legitimate affairs, no matter where these affairs take them. Here is the conclusion to his great speech, a speech that shamed the gentlemen of England in Parliament assembled and reminded them why England was great.

"... whether, as the Roman, in days of old, held himself free from indignity, when he could say 'Civis Romanus sum'; so also a British subject, in whatever land he may be, shall feel confident that the watchful eye and the strong arm of England, will protect him against injustice and wrong."

Even before he finished his great oration, those gentlemen of England, very much aware of the importance of what they'd just heard, were on their feet shouting their approval. The atmosphere was electric... and at a single moment Palmerston's advancement was assured; Don Pacifico's compensation became certain... and the right of British subjects anywhere on earth to safety, security and protection were made clear and adamant.

To be British meant to be protected by a nation clear on its obligations to citizens.

It is now time for the government of the United States to do the same, because our citizens most everywhere on earth have never been so exposed and vulnerable before. Here's why.

Anyone with a bee in his bonnet can release a cartoon, article or film construed or explicitly designed as an attack on Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. The sequence of events goes like this:

1) Attack made in any form.

2) Attack posted on YouTube and on the Internet generally.

3) Attack comes to the attention of radical Muslims.

Radicals are predictably outraged by this sacrilege. They riot and vow revenge.

They attack any U.S. government offices like the embassy of the United States... and U.S. citizens wherever they can find them, including church missions, schools, work sites with U.S. personnel, food banks, etc. In other words, once the original sacrilege is published, no American citizen is safe from attack by Islamic radicals and fundamentalists. And so innocent Americans die.

4) Once one group of Islamic adherents riots, their fellow Muslims riot, thus provoking a chain reaction of outrage, destruction, and murder.

This sequence of events is clear and has already occurred on several occasions.

Item: Jyllands-Postern Prophet Muhammad cartoons controversy, 30 September 2005. (Denmark)

Item: "Innocence of Muslims ", explicitly anti Muslim film, released on the Internet in July 2012. (USA)

Item: publication of anti-Muslim cartoons in the "Charlie Hebdo" magazine, 18 September 2012 (France).

And so groups and publications of no particular importance, become notorious and influential simply by publishing something that insults Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, causing their rabid and unrestrained followers to erupt in murderous and destructive rage. As a result the real innocents, our fellow countrymen, find themselves at immediate risk, life and limb.

Predictions

We may be assured that irresponsible, fringe groups will continue to outrage and insult Muslims, thereby provoking maximum thoughtless and destructive response and Muslim recriminations. We have three courses of action:

1) Do nothing beyond the little done at present. In other words, retain the status quo and hope for the best.

2) Remove all citizens in whatever capacity and position they may be. Revert to a "Fortress America" isolationist position, saving lives but causing significant economic dislocation and undermining defense.

3) Begin immediate work on a new policy towards Americans overseas, proactive, not merely waiting for outrages to occur but assuming such outrages can and will occur at regular intervals and that we must plan accordingly.

Option 3 is the constructive alternative, and we must start to implement it at once.

1) The President must announce that the current situation is inadequate and commit the necessary resources to commence reform.

2) The Secretary of State must be designated the responsible authority.

3) All persons in the government currently involved in this matter must be placed under the Secretary of State, so there is a unified, not duplicated, response.

4) Policy changes must be brainstormed, evaluated, adopted, publicized and promoted.

5) Creation of a directory of traveling and particularly overseas resident Americans so that pertinent warning and other messages may be emailed and otherwise instantly transmitted.

6) New governments like that in Egypt and Libya should be approached for the purpose of beefing up whatever protective services and capabilities exist. We must never assume any, especially new, government has such services; we must ask and verify for ourselves, with the constant question being "What have you available to support U.S. citizens?" Their willingness to answer this question and work with us to protect our nationals should weigh heavily when they want and ask for everything under the sun from us.

Implementation of these 6 steps will begin, but just begin, to solve the problem that exists and is slated to get worse unless such decisive action is taken at once. Remember, the first job of any government is to protect its citizens, at home and abroad.

Will this solve the problem? Probably not. So what about this? Go to any search engine and find Louis Armstrong and his 1968 song "What a Wonderful World"; written by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss. At first you may, like me, find the words sophomoric, even silly. But in fact, they offer the most strenuous challenge of our life, to look at the world as it is now and do our bit it to improve and sustain it. For each of us must take responsibility for creating the trees of green, red roses, too, and so shape the wonderful world that should be the objective of all of us, for we are each of us citizens of this planet, "Civus mundi sum"


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