The Hamas attacks on Israel illustrated in one day how vulnerable freedom is. The inexplicable denial of observed depraved assault — the worst on the Jewish people since World War II — indicate a very troubling lack of understanding and leadership. There were some on the UNC Chapel Hill campus who seemed to side with those committing the atrocities and some at the state legislature who refused to take a stand with our allies.

Whether diplomatically, militarily, or otherwise, Americans have always come to the defense of her allies, not their attackers.  Today, however, the instinct for liberty and civilization is drowned out by the defense of their assailants.  

Isolationism has become the haven for some elected leaders and citizens. Indifference and disregard for the doctrine of peace through strength has emboldened terrorism and authoritarianism across the globe.  Where are civilization’s defenders? 

More than 20 years of United States Army experience and training granted me numerous leadership roles, including planning operations and command of 3,500 troops, 14 deployments in hostile fire zones, six combat tours, and a senior advisor role at the Pentagon. I do not share this information to brag or even solicit a thank you. I share it to qualify my thoughts and opinions on the vulnerability of freedom today. 

Regimes of hate, authoritarianism, and theocracy are difficult enemies to fight. They have no rules, no values, no code, and no regard for human life. They operate in secret and the dark until their heinous attacks are carried out. When met by indecisive or weak US response, these enemies strengthen. 

President Obama’s refusal to arm Ukraine following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014 led Putin to set in motion the conflict in Ukraine today. President Biden’s botched withdrawal of Afghanistan resulted in bloodshed and loss of innocent lives and further emboldened Russia in its aggression toward Ukraine.  

China saw opportunity and reinvigorated its antagonism toward Taiwan. They flew a spy balloon across our country and over military installations, and even set up surveillance in Cuba. And Chinese nationals are freely purchasing land across America, some near bases and nuclear facilities.  

Finally, in a stunning display of naivety and complacency, President Biden returned $6 billion to Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, in a prisoner “exchange.” 

Following the heinous Hamas attacks, the United States must stand unequivocally with Israel. We do not have to police the globe, nor should we, but we cannot allow evil to permeate, grow, and expand its foothold in the naïve belief we will be spared. 

Freedom’s vulnerability is not limited to conflicts in the eastern hemisphere. The United States homeland, including here in North Carolina, is vulnerable as well. With evil emboldened around the world, our vigilance at home must increase. 

We have an exposed and defenseless southern border which leaves us susceptible to illegal entry of our enemies. It grants markets and logistical channels to cartels to import illicit drugs and weapons, and people. These are not alarmist viewpoints. The Biden administration has habitually misrepresented the state of border security while waving in the highest number of illegal immigrants in history. 

As a result, the next attack on the homeland will come from within our country and likely from people who just walked across our open border. It may be a sleeper cell who carries out an attack at a restaurant, mall, church, or synagogue. It may be a truck full of fertilizer that detonates and disrupts and destroys our energy grid.   

Freedom is vulnerable. If we are not resolute the consequences can be dire. We must be vigilant. We must protect our refineries and energy grids and raise our domestic terror alert. The best defense is a coordinated, well-prepared offense.  

Let’s not wait for the next domino to fall but exercise proactive leadership, decision-making, and problem-solving policies of strength.