Protecting middle class America, not the Middle East

Helping end overdose deaths should be our nation’s top priority

Have we lost sight of our military’s primary purpose? I can tell you this, it is not to fight and die in wars in countries most Americans can’t point to on a map. 

A recent New York Times cartoon by Patrick Chappatte, an editorial cartoonist for the paper, depicts annoyed troops who have apparently enlisted in the military specifically to fight in the Middle East, not to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies” as the Oath for Enlistment for the armed forces of the United States declares. 

The next line in this oath is, of course, the clarification that these enemies can be both “foreign and domestic.” 

What people like Chappatte and the editorial staff at the New York Times don’t understand is that the word “foreign” is not exclusively applied to jihadis on the other side of the globe. 

One could argue that the 15,000 troops Trump wishes to send to the southern border is a job better done by the National Guard, who already has boots on the ground. That is certainly a conversation worth having.

Instead, the New York Times used the incredibly out-of-touch and irrational argument that our troops are serving the United States better by policing failing democracies in war torn countries whose populations hate us. 

Not only that, Chappatte believes that the Middle East and its endless quasi-official military engagements is the sole reason young men and women join the military. 

In our role of chief democracy builder are we neglecting the greatest foreign threat that faces America?

According to a Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimate, around 72,000 Americans died in 2017 alone from overdoses. This is a dramatic increase from the year before and is mainly attributed to an increase in synthetic opioid usage. 

Deaths from synthetic opioids like fentanyl have risen from 5,000 deaths a year in 2015 to a whopping 30,000 deaths in 2017. These synthetic drugs are flooding over our southern border and we are confiscating a seemingly inconsequential  amount of contraband.

The fact that it has taken a massive caravan full of people to ring any alarms should be a source of shame; not just for those advocating for a porous, open border, but for anyone who doesn’t feel a sense of urgency in securing the border.

If our country is incapable of keeping a caravan of tens of thousands of people from shuffling their feet across the border then it is no mystery as to how drugs that are responsible for the deaths of more Americans than the Vietnam War find their way into our communities. 

If I were the Commander-in-Chief, I would withdraw every soldier we have in the Middle East (there are over 9,000 deployed in Afghanistan alone) and deploy them to our borders if it meant preventing just 1% of opioid deaths at home. 


BRETT CLARK
BRETT.CLARK.16@CNU.EDU

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