Articles by Pir Zubair Shah
Pir is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and is currently an Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Citizen Action-Project Focus Part II
Another aspect of our Foreign Relations Breakthrough Project is citizen action. We are committed to motivating private citizens and citizen groups to contribute to their national, homeland and global security. Today millions of private citizens have long convinced themselves that they personally cannot impact the security and well being of their country and the world.
They believe that only their government officials are those best positioned to make a difference. This thinking has no basis in fact. It is certainly true that many dedicated government officials and those working at multilateral organizations accomplish many things related to security. However, the fact remains that most of our world's most serious security challenges are not being resolved. Many countries remain broadly vulnerable.
The addition of thousands of private citizens doing what they can, will make a tremendous difference. The opportunities are many. For example citizen groups can help to protect our borders, airports, seaports, coastal areas, tunnels, bridges, nuclear power plants, railway systems and other sensitive and vulnerable facilities.
People can assist the police and emergency services in various ways. Citizens can lobby their government for more money for First Responders and other critical state agencies. People can petition their government for greater Coast Guard and Naval protection along coastlines. Citizens can demand that far more ships coming into their ports are scrutinized for weaponry, explosives and people being trafficked.
There are numerous non-profit organizations one can join to foster people to people relations and deal with various security causes. The issue of better diplomatic effectiveness can be demanded of governments.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked many American citizens joined the military, went to work in the defense industry building ships, airplanes, tanks and many other things. Others supported the police and vital facilities. Since the upset of the 9-11 attacks and others around the world have passed, people have once again quickly fallen back into apathy and denial. The fact remains that our world since Pearl Harbor is many, many times more dangerous.
There is something that all of us can do regardless of age, mobility or any preconceived lack of knowledge, time or expertise. Our future and the future of all those we care about is squarely in our own hands.