Thank you for returning to Common Sense Civics and Citizenship. Afghanistan is top of mind for Americans this week. Like many of you, I am in disbelief over what we have heard and learned. In today’s newsletter, we take a look at this incredible situation from a common sense civics and citizen perspective.
Let’s begin with our first article, “Afghanistan-Follow the Money.”
When I travel, I like to engage the locals in conversation. Some years ago, I asked the Parisian cab driver about the very fashionable uniforms the french military were wearing. They didn’t look battle-ready. They looked like they were going to a photoshoot. So, when I asked what their military would do if attacked on a large scale, the cabbie replied, “We depend on you Americans for our defense.” He smiled and affirmed his answer. The French are stylish and eat well, while our solid and brave military wears functional, battle-ready clothing and eats MRE’s.
Years later, I returned to Paris. The Eiffel Tower was heavily guarded by the French military carrying weapons of war. The men and women still took a moment to straighten their caps before attending to their duties. They had stepped up their military readiness significantly, much to my delight.
Today, the French are taking their people out of the crisis situation in the Middle East. As of this writing, our fellow citizens are being left behind. We leave no one behind. We are the most battle-ready military in the world. We have the right stuff and know how to get the job done. We are known for bravery. However, today it is the French and others who are taking care of business. Shouldn’t we be prioritizing our citizens and locals who have helped our military and getting them to safety over all else?
While searching for answers, I found an interesting comment in “The Federalist Papers in Modern Language” by Mary E. Webster (Webster, Mary E. The Federalist Papers in Modern Language. 2018. 84). I can’t help but wonder if Publius knew something in the 1700s that sheds light on the issue today. It’s from Federalist #22, where Publius (John Adams, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton) argues for the new Constitution to replace the Articles of Confederation. Here, they talk about how the proposed Constitutional Republic had some downsides-namely the temptation to be corrupted by power and money. Mary Webster translates into modern language for us:
“A weak side to republics, among their many advantages, is that they allow easy access to foreign corruption. Although a monarch often sacrifices his subjects to his ambition, his personal interest in both the government and the external glory of his nation make it difficult for a foreign power to make a bribe large enough to sacrifice his state. So the world has seen few examples of this type of royal prostitution, even though there have been abundant examples of every kind.”
I’m wondering about foreign corruption in our current tragic situation. The Framers of our Constitution saw the dangers of power, money, and personal self-interest in a republic. It takes tremendous moral fortitude for the powerful to turn down compensation for personal gain. The world stage has big players. The United States is a major player, but there are other significant national players on the scene.
I think Publius gives us a clue. Once again, follow the money.
This is Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.🇺🇸