Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Barack Obama Not Proposing a ParaMilitary Force

The other day I was shocked when a loved one very dear to me told me that he was worried that Barack Obama wanted to create some civilian paramilitary force. This loved one is very smart, very educated, and very serious in his worry. I was at a loss, I read a lot of news, I read a lot of blogs, most liberal/progressive, but some conservative, and I had no idea what this relative was talking about. The best I could come up with was Barack Obama's support for AmeriCorps, but I was not sure.

So I was not completely shocked to learn today that there was a Republican Congressman from Georgia, Representative Paul Broun, who accused Barack Obama of wanting to create a Gestapo-like force here in America:

“That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did,” Broun said. “When he’s proposing to have a national security force that’s answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he’s showing me signs of being Marxist.”

“We can’t be lulled into complacency,” Broun said.

“You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I’m not comparing him to Adolf Hitler. What I’m saying is there is the potential of going down that road.“

By the way Congressman, just because you claim to not be comparing him to Hitler, does not erase that you just compared him to Hitler.

So this got me wondering what exactly had Barack Obama said or proposed that might be considered Gestapoesque? The best I could come up with was a July speech by then candidate Barack Obama. This speech was video recorded and has circulated on the Internet by way of YouTube.

You can watch the speech here:

In this speech Barack Obama called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military. He also called for expanding the nation's foreign service. The scary quote that I guess has worried some was:
"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set," Obama said in July. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

It was explained at the time by the Obama Campaign that the candidate was referring to a proposal for a civilian reserve corps that could handle postwar reconstruction efforts such as rebuilding infrastructure — an idea not only endorsed by the Bush administration, but was proposed by President Bush.

Bush's 2006 proposal:
Developing a civilian reserve corps, analogous to the military reserves. The civilian reserve corps would utilize, in a flexible and timely manner, the human resources of the American people for skills and capacities needed for international disaster relief and post-conflict reconstruction.

2007 State of the Union Address:
Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. And it would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

As part of this Barack Obama has called for an increase of AmeriCorps slots from 75,000 to 250,000 and pledged to double the size of the Peace Corps by 2011. Anyone who has worked with these organizations would know that there is nothing remotely Gestapo like in these organizations. AmeriCorps is a great way for people to serve their community and country who are not interested in serving in the military, and it is a great way to provide resources to people who want to go to college or any other secondary education. Para-military it is not.

Undoubtedly, other aspects of civilian reserve corps that Barack Obama was talking about was also proposed on his website, for example:
He will establish a Classroom Corps to help teachers and students, with a priority placed on underserved schools; a Health Corps to improve public health outreach; a Clean Energy Corps to conduct weatherization and renewable energy projects; a Veterans Corps to assist veterans at hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters; and a Homeland Security Corps to help communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.
So I think it’s incorrect to think that Obama is proposing some new paramilitary organization.

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