The United States has long been divided by a fundamental difference of opinion. This is a conflict between those who evaluate ‘American’ or ‘anti-American’ acts based on how they affect American interests, and those who evaluate them on how they reflect American values, as set out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Thirty years ago, Ronald Reagan proposed the Strategic Defence Initiative, a new missile defence system. Nicknamed ‘Star Wars’, the programme would have created a near impenetrable missile shield, protecting the US from Soviet bombs and keeping Americans safe. The problem with this ostensibly defensive programme is what it means offensively, namely that it removes the element of deterrence. If the United States has no reason to fear retaliation, why not strike first? Three decades on, we are witnessing the same principle on a smaller scale with the Stand Your Ground law, removing the fear of consequences from the act of murder. This law, versions of which can be found in more than thirty states, was George Zimmerman’s missile shield. It is why he walks free after admitting killing a teenager.