A Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Prophetic words from Benjamin Franklin? Perhaps. Given the budgetary gamesmanship currently on display in our nation’s capital, it seem appropriate to ask ourselves, what is the state of the American Experiment, and is it in danger?
I have often argued that the United States faces threats from enemies conducting unconventional warfare. Whether from Al Qaeda or any other actor who seeks to practice the Chinese theory of “unrestricted warfare,” I have long worried about the potential effects of subversion and sabotage on our financial, economic, communications, and electrical infrastructure – as well as on our political system. I have even wondered if the current government shutdown might leave us vulnerable to a massive terrorist attack. On the surface it would seem to be the most opportune time to attack: much of the US government is shut down, and those employees who are working are likely distracted by the political machinations in Washington and are stuck simply trying to figure out the impact of the budget showdown on their respective agencies. Sure, the national security apparatus is supposed to continue functioning; however, it is unlikely to be do so at peak efficiency in the midst of apparent political dysfunction.
However, in examining the potential of such heightened vulnerability, we should recall Napoleon’s course of action when facing an enemy experiencing a situation such as ours. His counsel was this: