Saturday, August 18, 2007
And so it begins.........
It occurs to me that I complain about Osan a little too much. As US bases go its a pretty nice base, and it has a lot to offer. There has been a lot of new construction here, they have a nice exchange and it even has a nice little bar district outside the front gate. So I should be taking the opportunity to explore this country or at least get on over to Pyontaek maybe.
Problem is, I just don't feel like it. I've struggled to pinpoint why I am so down on this place. And when reduced to its core item-it can be summed up in two words: Big Brother.
If one ever wants a snapshot of what a stateside dictatorship will look like-this place provides one. It is all pretty benign, but the hand of the "man" is everywhere.
Big Brother knows how much and what food you buy at the commissary. He knows when you enter the front gate and who with. He has a means to track how much liquor you buy. (Which American ingenuity being what it is, folks figure out a way around it). My leaving and entering my work place is electronically tracked. So too are my e-mail transactions. Access to even the mildest of web sites is blocked.
Out in town there are the local police, and the BDU wearing "show of force". They have a curfew that is very limiting to say the least.
Now they say its all done for a good reason and that the owners of the system understand and respect the rights of the participants. That for the most part is probably true-but doesn't that bother you just a little, deep down inside?
It bothers me. Primarily because it relies on the good will and good intentions of those create the means to do all this tracking and regulating. That's putting a lot of faith in an being that prizes efficient operation above all other things. Its not abused-but its not hard to see how it easily could be.
"If you don't do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about", many people will say. "Its a necessary precaution to protect the security of our Soldiers and Airman in a foreign country-with DPRK long range artillery dialed in on Seoul. All valid points.
It also seems amazingly un American if you ask me. Isn't limiting the amount of government intrusion is what our political discussion has been about?
It may be a new world and that new world does have terrorism-that I do acknowledge.
However it troubles me that as this decade goes on, or for that matter the next one, we will wake up and find it is not terrorism that will be limiting us. It will be ourselves. We will have formed our own chains.
And the good news is, we already have a model of how to do it-right here.