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Gordon Cucullu- Contributor

Former Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist, author and a popular speaker. Born into a military family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work, Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is based in large part on his extensive experience in Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman. [website] [go to Cucullu index]

Separated at Birth : How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
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Freedom – at a Price
Enjoying the benefits - paying the cost
[Gordon Cucullu] 7/5/04

My Webster’s New Collegiate defines ‘freedom’ in terms of ‘the quality or state of being free.’ A synonym offered is liberty. On the previous page it lists the first definition of ‘free’ (as an adverb) as ‘without charge.’ Contrast that to the other definitions of ‘free’ (as an adjective): having legal and political rights, civil and political liberty, and enjoying political independence. The word ‘free’ sounds the same, and is spelled the same but means very different things.

Where many in the United States make a mistake is confusing the grammar and thereby confusing the philosophy. Being free, enjoying a state of freedom is not free of charge. Thomas Jefferson said that ‘the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.’ We need to understand that just as a living organism such as a tree requires repeated and regular amounts of water, so does freedom and liberty require repeated and regular – and always painful – sacrifice.

Notice that Jefferson spoke of blood from tyrants as well as from patriots. It is not enough to preserve liberty to sacrifice patriots if tyrants are left unchecked. Most often the sacrifice from the patriots striving to preserve freedom comes in the form of our military killed or wounded in action. The sacrifice is felt by their families who are deprived of a loved one. By comrades who mourn a friend. The sacrifice can be on an individual, community or national level depending on the amount and persons lost.

We can count on a major sacrifice in resources when the liberty tree needs defending. War has never been cheap either in lives or in resources. But at times it is necessary. The threats to liberty require that in preparing for war we maintain an adequate defense. Most of the time military strength enables us to prevent or deter a full-up war. But defense also costs. In our military preparedness training we lose about one soldier a day. Somewhere between 300-400 soldiers die annually in training accidents.

Years ago, shortly after I left command of a mechanized infantry company at Fort Polk, Louisiana one of my soldiers was run over and killed by an armored personnel carrier maneuvering through the forest at night. A tragic accident, to be sure. But what is one to do other than take all reasonable measures for safety? Troops must learn to live, work and fight in all environmental conditions. War is not restricted to cool, sunny days with low humidity and gentle breezes. Even training for war demands a price.

Nor are costs limited to the military. We in the general population pay for the military through taxes and have to modify our behavior to accommodate developing situations. For example, before hijacking and before aircraft were turned into missiles travelers could simply hand a ticket to a flight attendant and board an aircraft directly. Easier than what we go through now, sure, but who would be comfortable flying that lackadaisically today?

Nevertheless, accepting the necessity for some sacrifices does not mean enjoyment of them. Watch the people waiting in line at airport security. It is not usually a happy crowd. Resigned, accepting for the most part, and even understanding intellectually, but emotionally unhappy about the entire state of affairs.

And that is how we as a nation regard the larger issue of freedom. We don’t like having to support a large, standing military deployed all over the world. We resent having to rescue other countries from what we correctly perceive as troubles of their own making. Europe brought forth Hitler and Mussolini, after all, and Japan spawned Tojo. North Korea vomited up the father and son dictatorial duo of the Kims and the Middle East festers with dysfunctional rulers like Saddam Hussein, Yassir Arafat, the House of Saud, Bashar Assad, and the ayatollahs in Iran. So why does all that mess become America's responsibility?

Liberty and freedom are not simply something that we can treasure and hoard. They must be shared to grow and prosper. If we try to hold Jefferson’s tree to close we choke it. The branches must spread to all peoples. If Jefferson is correct and it requires patriot’s blood to make that happen then that is the price we must pay. It is easy to make the intellectual argument for liberating oppressed peoples on humanitarian and human rights grounds: torture chambers, oppression of women, ethnic cleansing of minorities, starvation, infant mortality, genocide, tyranny over a population.

All these are good reasons for intervention and rescue. Add national security to the equation and the reasons grow even more compelling: invasion of neighboring states, support and harboring terrorists, research and production into weapons of mass destruction, and promulgation of hostile ideologies. All these make a move by the US most compelling. But still, at the emotional level, we wish very much that we could be shed of it all. We would like to deflect or better yet transfer responsibility for resolving these terrible people with their awful behavior. We want it to go away. After all, who made us the world’s policemen?

The answer is simple: the same entity that created this country originally. America was not an accident, a fluke in a chemical broth struck by lightening. It was a culmination of a long process of growth of western civilization with Divine guidance that resulted in an admittedly imperfect country, but one that offers more hope for humankind than any other. We have long become the shining city on the hill, and even if some of us are reluctant to admit this, or actually detest the image it does not diminish the reality of it nor lessen our responsibilities.

The spread of liberty – slowly, grudgingly, always painfully – began almost before our own Revolution was complete. The French revolted and though it turned into a mess it ultimately became a democracy. More recently we defeated the Soviet Union and watched it stumble and fumble into something, not quite a democracy but markedly improved from the tyrannical state of communism.
Some successes have been remarkable: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines directly and Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand indirectly in Asia. Germany, Italy, Greece, Spain and former eastern block states in Europe. El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Grenada, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Chile and others in South America. Ultimately others will follow: in time Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam will rise to the challenge of democracy and share in its rewards, as will Syria, Iran and Palestine. Difficult to accomplish? Of course. But we’re tough and can do it.

Still, why do it at all? All this tree metaphor stuff may be interesting but what’s in it for us? Good questions. First and foremost is national security. Countries with democratic governments do not war upon each other. Increased comfort in international security means fewer resources diverted to military requirements and more for civil growth. Second is mutual prosperity. Free market democratic societies mean a higher standard of living world wide and a blossoming of human rights and human well being. Good things come with a cost: as we have seen freedom and liberty are wonderful and demand much from us.

We enjoy the benefits; we must accept the price. When the proper time is at hand we must water the tree of liberty. CRO

copyright Gordon Cucullu 2004




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