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While making a campaign stop in Waco, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton praised the U.S. military for "defending and protecting our country."
I couldn’t help but wonder whether she was talking about the military’s role in Iraq or Waco.
You’ll recall that under her husband’s regime, U.S. officials from the ATF and FBI, supported by the U.S. military, massacred 74 men, women, and children at the Branch Davidian compound at Waco. The massacre was accomplished through the intentional injection of flammable gas from U.S. military tanks into the compound and then, as the Emmy Award winning documentary "Waco: The Rules of Engagement" showed, the intentional firing of incendiary devices into to the compound that ignited the flammable gas. Shortly after the massacre, U.S. officials quickly bulldozed the entire site so that a proper investigation into how the incineration got started could not be conducted.
One of the rationales employed by President Clinton and his attorney general, Janet Reno, for the raid was to protect the Branch Davidian people, including the children, from their leader David Koresch. Of course, never mind that the raid succeeded in killing most of the people, including the children, that the raid was supposed to save.
Who could guess that the same rationale would be employed several years later by President Bush in regard to the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people? Among the many alternative rationales provided by the president for his invasion of Iraq was that he was doing it to save the Iraqi people from their leader. Never mind that his invasion has succeeded in killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people, many of whom have been Iraqi children.
Another similarity between Waco and Iraq is with respect to terrorism and patriotism.
Two years after Waco, terrorist Timothy McVeigh retaliated for Waco by bombing a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people. After the attack, libertarians called on the American people to focus on McVeigh’s motivation for the attack, prompting President Clinton and his subordinates to immediately go on the attack. They condemned any such exploration into motive because to do so, they claimed, would justify and condone what McVeigh had done.
After the 9/11 attacks, President Bush and his subordinates immediately went on the attack against those who were arguing that the attacks were "blowback" from U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, including the brutal sanctions on Iraq that had contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people. Bush condemned any such exploration because, he claimed, it was obvious that the terrorists simply hated America for its "freedom and values," not because the U.S. government had done bad things to people in the Middle East.
After the Oklahoma City bombing, Bill Clinton even implied that anyone who condemned wrongdoing by the federal government was an unpatriotic hater of America. Several years later, we would hear the same nonsense from President Bush when people began condemning U.S. foreign policy in the wake of 9/11.
Too bad that Hillary Clinton didn’t take the opportunity to acknowledge and apologize for what the U.S. military did in Waco and Iraq and to call for a change in direction. But of course how could she, given that she shares the mindsets of militarism and empire of both her husband and President Bush?
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.