Tuesday, November 14, 2006


This excerpt by Wendell Berry is from an essay titled "A Citizen's Response to 'The National Security Strategy of the United States of America'" in Citizenship Papers. Berry's full essay is an important read. In it, he responds to the Bush policy of "preemptive war" that led to attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. This particular segment, however, is less about that and more about things from which a national security strategy can't save us.

"It is understandable that we should have reacted to the attacks of September 11, 2001, by curtailment of civil rights, by defiance of laws, and by resort to overwhelming force, for those actions are the ready products of fear and hasty thought. But they cannot protect us against the destruction of our own land by ourselves. They cannot protect us against the selfishness, wastefulness, and greed that we have legitimatized here as economic virtues, and have taught to the world. They cannot protect us against our government's consequent dependence, which for the present at least is inescapable, on foreign supplies such as oil from the Middle East."

"And they cannot protect us from what proved to be the greatest danger of all: the estrangement of our people from one another and from our land. Increasingly, Americans--including, notoriously, their politicians--are not from anywhere. And so they have in this 'homeland,' which their government now seeks to make secure on their behalf, no home place that they are strongly moved to know or love or use well or protect."

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