The New York Times published an interesting … and revealing … article by former President Bill Clinton entitled “What We Learned in Oklahoma City,” in which Clinton commemorated the terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City 15 years ago, which claimed the lives of 168 people. Clinton writes:
Finally, we should never forget what drove the bombers, and how they justified their actions to themselves. They took to the ultimate extreme an idea advocated in the months and years before the bombing by an increasingly vocal minority: the belief that the greatest threat to American freedom is our government, and that public servants do not protect our freedoms, but abuse them. On that April 19, the second anniversary of the assault of the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, deeply alienated and disconnected Americans decided murder was a blow for liberty.
Clinton’s thoughts are confused and convoluted.
First of all, the federal government is the greatest threat to the freedom of the American people. That’s the whole point about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Framers did not call into existence a federal government with unlimited powers. Instead, they used the Constitution to strictly limit the powers of the federal government.
Why did they do that? Why didn’t they just entrust the federal government with unlimited power to do the right thing?
Because they knew that an omnipotent government would destroy their lives, their freedom, and their well-being.
Even that protection didn’t satisfy the people in the several states, who were extremely reluctant to bring the federal government into existence. They insisted on the Bill of Rights, which expressly prohibits the federal government from infringing on specified rights that people considered to be of the utmost importance.
Why did our ancestors do that? Because they considered the federal government to be the greatest threat to their freedom. They used the enumerated powers in the Constitution and the restrictions in the Bill of Rights to protect themselves from the great threat that the federal government posed to them.
Timothy McVeigh did not attack the federal building in Oklahoma City because he shared the sentiments of the Founding Fathers. He attacked it because of the massacre that Clinton and his people committed at Waco two years before. Clinton’s slaughter of the Branch Davidians, including women and children, so angered Timothy McVeigh that McVeigh decided to retaliate against the federal government by bombing the Murrah building.
In his op-ed, Clinton says that “civic virtue can include criticism, protest, even civil disobedience is okay. But not violence or its advocacy.”
Unfortunately, 17 years after Waco Clinton still doesn’t get the point.
Immediately after the Waco massacre, most Americans were indifferent or even supportive of what Clinton and his people did. Not so with libertarians. We condemned the action from the get-go, and continued to do so as the years passed. We succeeded in slowly raising the consciousness of people to such a point that most Americans now realize what a horrible thing it was that Clinton did.
In other words, we libertarians did what Clinton suggests should be done — we criticized, condemned, and protested.
But what Clinton fails to recognize is that in most every society, there are certain people with violent propensities who normally remain below the radar screen of life. They go about their everyday affairs from birth to death, without ever calling attention to themselves.
But as soon as government commits a horrific deed, such as massacring dozens of innocent people, those types of people all of sudden surface. The government’s horrible misconduct ignites something within them that drives them to commit some horribly violent act in retaliation.
Thus, Clinton can preach and exhort all he wants. But while most of us would agree with him, there will usually be those few with violent propensities, such as Timothy McVeigh, who will respond with violence.
So, what is the real solution to terrorist bombings of U.S. federal buildings? The real solution is: No more Wacos (and no more Ruby Ridges).
In fact, that’s proven to be the case. Since Clinton’s massacre at Waco, there have been no more federal massacres of American citizens. And there have not been any more terrorist attacks on U.S. federal buildings.
Well, except for the Pentagon on 9/11, which raises another slaughter committed by former President Clinton (as well as his predecessor and successor), a much worse one — the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of children in Iraq as a result of the cruel and brutal sanctions that Clinton enforced against Iraq throughout his eight years in office.
As Joy Gordon points out in her new book Invisible War: The United States and Iraq Sanctions, the sanctions enforced against Iraq constituted the most comprehensive, cruel, and brutal economic embargo in history. Despite Clinton’s repeated hype about Saddam Hussein’s refusal to disarm, Gordon carefully documents the real purpose of the sanctions: regime change — that is, the ouster of Saddam Hussein, a former ally of the U.S. government, and his replacement with a U.S.-approved ruler.
Who paid the price of the sanctions? The children of Iraq. In her book, Gordon carefully documents in painful and excruciating detail how U.S. bureaucrats, in a banality of evil that shocks the conscience, did everything they could to prevent Iraq from repairing the water-and-sewage facilities that the Pentagon had intentionally and knowingly destroyed during the Persian Gulf War.
The consequence? Every year, tens of thousands of Iraqi children were dying, motivating high UN officials like Hans von Sponeck and Denis Halliday to resign their posts in protest of what they termed genocide.
Clinton’s reaction to the never-ending deaths of the Iraqi children? It was expressed by his U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Madeleine Albright, who was asked by “Sixty Minutes” in 1996 about the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions. She responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”
Throughout his 8 years in office, Clinton was making a mathematical calculation, one in which he obviously concluded that the deaths of Iraqi children, presumably no matter how high, was worth trying to get rid of Saddam Hussein and replace him with a ruler who was more palatable to the U.S. government.
In other words, as bad as what Clinton and his people did at Waco, it pales in significance to what they did in Iraq.
One cannot help but wonder whether Clinton and Albright still felt that the deaths of the Iraqi children were “worth it” on September 11, 2001, when terrorists retaliated for U.S. foreign policy actions in the Middle East, including the sanctions against Iraq.
Which brings us back to the point: When government does horrific things to people, such as what Clinton did to the Branch Davidians at Waco and to the children in Iraq, there are usually going to be people with violent propensities who are driven to retaliate.
The solution? Not more sweet op-eds praising freedom of speech and condemning violence, especially from the likes of Bill Clinton. The solution is: Stop the U.S. government from killing innocent children and others with attacks, sanctions, embargoes, invasions, occupations, and foreign aid. Otherwise, be prepared for the worst.