2007-08-24 / Columnists

The Progressive

War On Terror
Commentary By John Paul Culotta

A question that has not been asked often enough must be asked and agreed to by most Americans:

How does a nation fight terrorists?

This question must become a part of next year's national election campaign. We do not need a government that uses fear, as a method to control political discourse and direct us to activities that do not, in fact, make us safer. We need to evaluate the sanity and effectiveness of our foreign and domestic policy regarding security issues. As a nation we cannot afford to neglect other threats to our health and safety.

We who live in this great metropolis that was racked by the worst single terrorist act in history are aware of the dangers of terrorism. Living in fear is not an option. Using fear as a means to achieve political ends is immoral and unacceptable. We recall each day in this city with street signs in honor of the victims, our neighbors who still grieve, and the countless memorials in the city.

In September, the heinous attacks of the eleventh becomes an event of remembrance and some controversy. Our nation needs to address the fact that there are many foes that wish to harm us and our economy. (Often, I think our economy will be harmed more by those who refuse to recognize that the economy should benefit all of us.)

Does a war on terror entail an abrogation of our civil liberties? Is an abrogation necessary? Many in the Bush/ Cheney administration and their minions feel constitutional guarantees of government restraints are unnecessary or superfluous. Others feel national security is not as threatened as powerful voices in government and the media claim. Many, both on the right and left, including myself, do not understand the need for secret courts or the need for entry without a warrant for American citizens. Attacks on our civil liberties are always troubling and generally unacceptable. Terrorists win if we are hypocrites regarding the rule of law.

Why export democracy if we lose our rights at home? Our foes want to portray us as a nation that uses force to achieve our objectives and as a nation which exploits other nations and resources. For the U.S. to attack a sovereign nation possessing considerable petroleum resources, such as Iraq, which did not pose a serious threat to our nation and was not a haven for terrorists when attacked, gives credence to such propaganda.

There are many young people across the globe who suffer real and imagined indignities and see no hope for their nations and people in the future. Our wealth and power is not only envied, but also hated.

Our nation's reliance on military power as the major component to fight terrorism is not effective. Our expenditure of billions of dollars renders us unable to solve domestic concerns.

It is a reality that more Americans are threatened by workplace accidents and/or violence, car accidents, an inadequate health care system that runs on greed, unsanitary hospitals, a lack of a safe and adequate food supply system, unprotected borders, and faulty infrastructure, than by terrorist attacks.

Unprotected borders and unsupervised immigration amount to a recipe for disaster. Hurricane Katrina highlights our neglect of our levees and barriers. Bridges across the nation are suspect. We know tainted imported foodstuffs are sold in our stores. Often we hear of workplace accidents that were preventable. Many accidents are not reported in our media because death did not occur. Yet, there is no national effort to promote safer driving conditions.

Local newspapers report of Americans with health insurance being denied payment even for well-established medical procedures, because of their expense. Many appeals are also denied. Insurance carriers feel they have the right to determine what course of treatment will be allowed. Leaving our medical care to the whim of the marketplace can be a deadly game of chance.

Recently, I spent a great deal of time dealing with the health care delivery system. I went for a treatment which my carrier confirmed was covered, both orally and in writing. Then, I was informed that I was not covered and my carrier has not paid my physician. My three cats are taken care of better and with more compassion by our veterinarian than my close family members by some medical staff.

Receptionists for physicians are often rude, make billing errors, and treat patients as if their time is of no importance. Physicians are too busy to listen, show concern, or properly diagnose. My wife has been forced to go for second opinions to treat an ailment because the first doctor was out of the room before all her questions and concerns were addressed.

I had to wait for a month-and-a half to see a physician for a chronic pain in my back. I called other medical providers and the wait was longer. The night before the scheduled appointment, I was asked by the receptionist if the appointment could be a later hour because the doctor would be busy. Emergency rooms are packed. Hospitals do not have adequate staffing. No physician has ever called to inquire about my condition or whether I needed further assistance after an office visit.

My pets' vet calls to inquire about the pet and if the medicine has had any adverse effects. A physician told me his receptionist gives his patients preferences and disregards patients for appointments based on payment scales of the patients' insurance carrier. Medicare patients are often not seen by some doctors.

In Europe, home visits by doctors for the elderly and seriously ill are common. The time allotted by the physician for your care is sometimes based on your insurance carrier, I was told by a friend. Does the profit motive truly insure quality medical care? I think not! Our nation has all the negatives of a national health care delivery system (long waiting period for non-emergency care, cost rationing, poor hospital care) without the positives (universal coverage, lower costs, businessfriendly).

It is clear that our medical care system is broken. The Financial Times, a British newspaper, is a conservative paper of prestige and influence similar to the Wall Street Journal. On August 6, 2007, The Financial Times commented that all the proposals for a reform of the U.S. health care system would not be adequate for a conservative candidate in Great Britain. The general population in Europe considers what is considered radical in this country as to health care inadequate. Candidate Edwards' proposals were ridiculed by The Financial Times as inadequate for a powerful country. Many in this country have criticized Edwards' proposals as socialistic. Many domestic social needs are not being addressed when we use precious money for expensive military solutions to combat a phenomenon called terrorism, that can be better addressed with incisive detective work, criminal prosecution, limited military action, cooperation of our friends, a rejection of a continued arms race in the Middle East, a resolution to the Palestinians' legitimate claims of oppression, visionary diplomacy, and a rejection of nuclear proliferation by all nations, including our allies.

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