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Homeland Security and Foreign Policy
The degree of fear emanating from the 9/11 attacks was indeed high. It created a political window of opportunity for the U.S. government to establish different organs to beef up security of its people within and outside its borders. The Department of Homeland Security came into being with the vision to assure American people continued to maximize on their inalienable rights. However, the amounts or budgetary resources accorded to security organs have been exceptionally high while the threat of terrorism seems to have diminished considerably. In light of such developments, the general populace has begun questioning the efficacy of the HDS necessitating Congress to propose bills aimed at ensuring relevance, public trust, transparency, greater interdependency amongst security functions, and prudent use of state funds. It is critical to employ a may, can, should analysis of such proposed legislation to determine their worth upon implementation relative to societal expectations.
Homeland Security and Foreign Policy
Defining the Problem
Overview: At present, Americans are cherishing lower levels of crime. Additionally, no terrorist attacks such as that witnessed in 2001 have occurred in recent years (Cuéllar, 2015). The challenges occurring from these positive observations involves increasing numbers of America’s citizens deeming physical security as a lesser concern. However, there are exceptions like the sporadic acts of domestic terrorism. For instance, the recently experienced gun attacks in Las Vegas, Nevada (Huff & Kertzer, 2017). Incidences of racial prejudices are further offsetting the previously held balance in society important for lasting peaceful coexistence among societal members. Concerns about homeland security have therefore risen with some law enforcement entities like the Police Department running New York City focusing on counterterrorism with the sole objective of diminishing all perceived terrorist activities (Cuéllar, 2015).
Policy makers, legislators, federal and state organs, private institutions as well as the general public understand the need for continued vigilance though responses to homeland security threats have been considerably enhanced (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). Instances of periodic violence are a significant factor determining the trajectories of various nations’ political and economic progresses. Even governments heading societies facing very low threats appertaining to pervasive violent conflict have appraised levels of domestic security preparedness and effectiveness. This is founded on the knowledge that terrorism, internal violence risks as well as crippling natural disasters present potentially devastating risks to national stability on all fronts (Cuéllar, 2015). It is therefore widely appreciated that technological evolution, geopolitical circumstances, nature of groups involved tends to influence the reaction elasticity of America’s enemies. This implies that policy tools like transformative border security policy and economic statecraft have to remain innovative, pro-active and forward minded.
Impacts: The department of Homeland Security was created in response to increased international terrorism acts which eventually began penetrating American Borders. Its importance cannot be overlooked as its accomplishments are truly noble. According to Hudson (2015), its successes have allowed some misguided politicians to assume that terrorist threats are not as critical today as they were a decade ago. The outcomes are risks to discontinue finding for the vital department as it is not only considered unmanageably large but also riddled with bureaucratic clumsiness (Cuéllar, 2015). Some quotas of the political divide went as far as inferring less financing for DHS.
This is evidently an unwitting distraction to what American cherish most, physical security. Such diversions are clearly a cause for alarm given the amount of difficulties, anguish and pain this could present to citizens. Hudson (2015) posits that approximately 80% of DHS staffs are considered essential to entities affiliated to national security. This implies that even if diminished funding shuts down the department, such personnel with still be considered government personnel though without remuneration. Discords among lawmakers concerning its funding have led many to highlight failures of other significant institutions such as the State Department and FBI.
Root Causes: One very catastrophic incident eroded the level of high respect accorded to the Department of Homeland Security. After its formation in 2002, the DHS was pictured by many as a well-oiled machine that assured of their safety (Cuéllar, 2015). However, the disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina by FEMA pushed many to decry DHS’ effectiveness. FEMA as a cog within DHS exhibited operational ineffectiveness and inefficiencies that exposed DHS as a superfluously layered bureaucratic terrorism fighting apparatus but grossly ineffective in handling natural disasters and the other numerous emergencies emerging at the home front (Hudson, 2015). The levels of morale amongst its personnel also decanted resulting in an unprecedented staff turnover rate for a large federal organization. It is therefore currently considered as much lesser than the sum of its components by many of its opponents seeking to diminish its need for existence (Kraft & Furlong, 2017).
Competing Interpretations of the Problem: One major issue that has emerged is the perception that the DHS is ineffective. This emanates from the truth that it is blamed for incidences it has no ultimate control over. According to Hudson (2015), the attempted bombing of Flight 253 above Detroit as well as the Boston Marathon incident in 2013 were essentially failures emanating from poor communication flows concerning the attacks by both the State Department and the FBI. However, some technocrats point out that the real challenge arises from dismal focus on the need for coordination amongst government agencies and departments. The DHS was indeed created to eliminate such problems making some political leaders question its existence if these still persists.
The DHS embarked on an initiative under its grants program aimed at appraising preparedness levels within American cities and states (Hudson, 2015). Unfortunately, this has emerged as a significant avenue for unacceptable cost effectiveness. The department has exhibited great progress in improving intelligence, counterterrorism and cybercrime response mechanisms. The dynamics of global terrorism as well as the growing threats to domestic security continue to demand greater allocation of resources to the DHS. Hudson (2015) notes that North Pole, an Alaskan town with a populace of about 1,570 was offered a grant of $557,400 to acquire and actualize the use of homeland security related communication equipment. Another competing interpretation of the issue is that the tragedy of 9/11 was overly exaggerated thereby misconstruing that actual threat levels the American people are exposed to (Hudson, 2015). For instance, drunken driving, gun violence and infectious diseases are considered greater killers compared to acts of terrorism.
Biblical Analysis: Throughout the Bible, the authorities serving the Israelite people sought to ensure security was accorded to all (Monsma, 2008). In times when this society was too weak to defend its members from external aggression, they sought God’s divine interventions which hardly failed them (Joshua 10: 12-43). The Department of Homeland Security is an entity mandated with assuring the American society of desirable security levels vital for its social, political, cultural, and economic progress. To eliminate the challenge of ineffectiveness in cost management, biblical teaching implores that even organs like the DHS be subject to a greater power such as Congress. As the people’s representative, it functions as an agent for reproof and correction (Bradley, 2016). This bill therefore conforms to biblical principles that call upon members of the Church to embrace accountability towards perfecting the purpose of unity and common bond therein (Fischer, 2013). Without an oversight authority such as the one proposed in the legislation, the DHS will continue to exhibit glaring flaws which ultimately lead to discontent among the populace as to its ineffectiveness in safeguarding security.
Constitutional Analysis: The American Constitution bears a Preamble which insures domestic tranquility, a common defense, promotion of public welfare which is critical to ensuring liberty of the people and their prosperity (Fischer, 2013). This implies that S. 146 is in alignment with expectations of the country’s principle law (2015). Section 8 of the Constitution confers upon Congress the authority to assess the viability of proposed plans by the DHS to strengthen the application of technology relative to border security.
Biblical Analysis: The bible includes narratives where people demanded for rulers who according to public perception were able to assure citizens of accountability (Monsma, 2008). Rulers were therefore accountable to those they governed (Bradley, 2016). In the body of Christ which is the Church, those elements deemed against the will of God have to be progressively corrected and if they fail to do so, eliminated (Ephesians 4:1-16). In the same manners, S. 1884 is a bill that seeks to ensure transparency in all activities undertaken by the DHS in line with its mandate to the American government and more importantly, its people (2015). As a principle authority in governance affairs within the U.S., Congress is empowered to pursue actions which eradicated facets of DHS operation abilities towards efficient delivery of a secure environment for all its citizens.
Constitutional Analysis: The DHS was constituted to offer effective service to all members of American society. Congress’ determination to acquire investigation reports concerning terrorist activities as well as matters of homeland security is upheld in the Constitution (Fischer, 2013). The primary organization in every unique case is obligated to submit a complete document indicating that it expended its obligations to the citizenry to the highest level. To ensure utmost diligence towards that cause, it is requisite that interagency and interdepartmental collaborations and coordination be capitalized on. This implies that the proposed bill will eliminate the issue of poor teamwork among different entities concerned with homeland security.
Political Feasibility: S. 146 conforms to the present administration’s stance on border security (2015). The application of new technologies is perceived as the best means to succinctly achieve desired results relative to securing the country’s borders. For instance, America’s boundary with Mexico is quite expansive and bears geographical terrain that makes surveillance a risky affair for its well trained personnel. The political elite appreciate that technology can overcome human errors as well as assuring the general public of round the clock reconnaissance (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). This can be assured even in areas where smugglers, drug traffickers, undocumented persons as well as terrorists may exploit given the inherent inabilities borne by border security entities. S. 146’s suitability for purpose attracts desirable political support towards its quick enactment (2015).
Financial Feasibility: S. 146 is designed to eliminate flaws witnessed in the allocation of $557,400 to a small town in Alaska (Hudson, 2015). Such apportionments of public resources portray HDS as an entity that is not keen on the prudent management of state funds. The bill is expected to be implemented at a cost lower than that spent in North Pole (Hudson, 2015). There are many other grants accorded to various regions within the U.S. which may have resulted in wasteful use of state capital.
Practical Feasibility: S. 146 is practical on numerous fronts. Firstly, it will work to raise effectiveness of personnel deployed along the border thus appraising the efficacy of other policies supporting the development of different sectors of American society (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). For instance, it has the capacity to improve outcomes of the War against Drugs, inflows of counterfeit goods as well as discourage movement of illegal immigrants into the U.S. The present administration has determined that one of its important goals is to limit entry of unwanted persons, drugs, guns and other smuggled products into the nation (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). This implies that the bill has the support of government is set to be enacted quickly in line with its ongoing agenda.
Political Feasibility: S. 1884 is bent on eliminating organizational flaws that have exhibited the DHS in bad light in the past few years (2015). Hurricane Katrina revealed the gravity of the situation (Huff & Kertzer, 2017). Through this bill, the DHS and other related agencies as well as federal departments will be assured of an oversight that not only ensures accountability but also avails an avenue for improving on efficiencies and eradication of evident errors. It is therefore bound to solicit appropriate political support given the importance these departments have relative to assuring Americans of unwavering protection to their adopted ways of life (Kraft & Furlong, 2017).
Financial Feasibility: Similarly, S. 1884 is objective in ensuring that through coordination as well as purposeful collaborations amongst the country’s homeland security apparatus is maximized (2015). The outcomes of poor interdependency among agencies operating under the DHS banner during Hurricane Katrina led to unprecedented expenditure to get the situation under control (Huff & Kertzer, 2017). Through the reporting mechanism whose implementation budget stands at less than $500,000 yearly, efficiencies will be achieved which eliminate the possibility of the losses experienced in 2005 (Huff & Kertzer, 2017). As the current administration looks to cut government expenditures which have been rising significantly over the past few years, S. 1884 bears the potential to ensure HDS is able to seek less funding. This can be executed without compromising on efficiency relative to delivery of security services to U.S. citizens.
Practical Feasibility: Accountability is a core governance tenet not only in the American government engagements but also in the private sector. It supports the need for continuous performance improvements (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). The DHS is a relatively young department which by reason of its mandate is accorded significant budget allocations. However, there remain incidences which have served to create an aura of distrust from the general populace as well as among the political establishment. Through collaborations and coordination, it is possible for different organization in the security sector to engage in interdependencies that may ultimately serve to eliminate the incidences of domestic terrorism that occur periodically. The bill is considered as critical in appraising efficiencies thereby garnering great support from the entire American society (Kraft & Furlong, 2017). This implies that it is going to be quickly enacted and also implemented rapidly since it attracts considerable low costs of implementation.
S.146 is a timely bill which ought to be enacted and put into full implementation with speed to appraise the functioning of border security agencies (2017). Huge spending has led to the populations within American society to question its purpose given that there are still sporadic incidences of domestic tourism. The threat of terrorism is real and there should be a proactive approach from the DHS to move to exhibit its preparedness not only in responding to threats but preventing them before they are actualized (Bradley, 2016). Through the application of novel technologies, border security can be enhanced consistently towards supporting further developments in the economic, political, social and cultural fronts of American society.
Threat levels from external terrorists targeting members of the American society have decreased significantly. However, the budget allocations have not which has led to notable inefficacies occurring which amounts to extravagant use of public funds. Similarly, there appears to be rifts between agencies in the sector which have watered down the possibility of collaborations and timely coordination. The outcome has been avoidable losses running to the billions and trillions of dollars. As this paper has underscored, both S. 146 and S. 1884 look to streamline functions of the DHS and other entities towards greater accountability and ultimately interdependence.
Bradley, A. B. (2016). Something Seems Strange: Critical Essays on Christianity, Public Policy, and Contemporary Culture. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers.
Cuéllar, M-F. (2015). Domestic security and foreign policy. Retrieved from https://www.hoover.org/sites/default/files/uploads/documents/Domestic-Security-Cuellar_0.pdf
Fischer, K. (2013). Biblical principles of government. Liberty University.
Hudson, J. (2015). Who needs the Department of Homeland Security anyway? Retrieved from http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/26/who-needs-the-department-of-homeland-security-anyway/
Huff, C., & Kertzer, J. D. (2017). People are more likely to describe a violent event as terrorism if the perpetrator is Muslim and has policy goals. USApp-American Politics and Policy Blog.
Kraft, M. E., & Furlong, S. R. (2017). Public policy: Politics, analysis, and alternatives (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Sage Publications. ISBN: 1506358144.
Monsma, S. (2008). Healing for a broken world: Christian perspectives on public policy. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. ISBN: 9781581349610.
U.S. Const. amend. X (ratified 1791).