Because it's making the rounds of the blogs again--including some in Wisconsin who should know better and some who are gleeful for any nugget of mud they can sling to sully the election of Barack Obama--I feel the need to repeat myself and talk about Obama's "civilian national security force."
The phrase comes from an ad-libbed line Obama added to a speech in Ft. Collins, CO, last July, about the importance of national service. He said, "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
This line was used for a while, and is being used again, to suggest that there will be some kind "brownshirt" organization--an "Obama Youth" or "American Gestapo"--that will enforce the will of Obama in your schools and neighborhoods and drag you off to a re-education camp should you deviate from the party line.
Simply, this is false. As I explained last July in the first round of this, twice, the phrase "civilian national security force" was Obama's way of referring to those outside of the military who nonetheless further our national security goals around the world. Here's Obama speaking to the Military Times newspaper:
That also means, by the way, that we’re going to have to, I believe, reconfigure our civilian national security force. In a way that just hasn’t been done.Even in that original Colorado speech, Obama makes clear from his context that he's not talking about domestic enforcement of his agenda:
I mean, we still have a national security apparatus on the civilian side in the way the State Department is structured and [Agency for International Development] and all these various agencies. That hearkens back to the Cold War. And we need that wing of our national security apparatus to carry its weight.
And we'll also grow our Foreign Service, open consulates that have been shuttered, and double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011 to renew our diplomacy. We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.In context, there is little doubt that Obama intends to beef up the non-military (i.e., civilian) aspects of our presence abroad so as to secure our national security objectives. Anyone who wants to twist the phrase "civilian national security force" into meaning something like the SS or the SIM or the Stasi or Big Brother is deliberately twisting Obama's words and ignoring the clear context of his remarks.
Others have noted in the past few months--notably digby, though I'm not going to rummage in her archives to find the link--that the conservatives who cheered on George W. Bush's unilateral push to increase executive authority in frightening ways will be appalled at every step Obama takes in any direction. Warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detention of US citizens, "black sites" where prisoners disappear to be tortured and killed, extraordinary rendition, politicizing the Department of Justice, signing statements--essentially, nary a peep from the right. But get Barack Obama talking about how the State Department and the Peace Corps need to be stronger, and the black-helicopter paranoia is right back out in the open. Expect demands to restrict Obama's executive authority to vetoing bills and ordering Domino's on the red phone. Expect phony arguments like this one over the "civilian national security force" to be a driving force.