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(Erika Holzer, co-author)
In Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged the protagonist, John Galt, says: "Then I saw what was wrong with the world, I saw what destroyed men and nations, and where the battle for life had to be fought. I saw that the enemy was an inverted morality — and that my sanction was its only power. I saw that evil was impotent — that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real — and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it. * * * I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win — and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was ‘No.’"
Unfortunately, for eight years the Clinton administration never said "No" — in word or deed.
While during this national tragedy our political leaders have admirably come together, putting aside partisanship and steadfastly avoiding the assessment of blame for last week’s terrorist attacks, we are under no such restraint. We cannot afford to ignore the non-response to terrorism, and thus the sanction of it, seen during the Clinton years — when the word "No," and the appropriate action accompanying it, might have spared America what has now befallen us.
In the first terrorist attack on American soil, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing left six dead, hundreds hurt, and ended the myth of our invulnerability. A year later, an airline of our Philippine ally was bombed. In 1995, an attempt was made to assassinate the President of another America ally, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The following year, 19 American military personnel were murdered and some 400 were wounded on the soil of another ally, Saudi Arabia. In 1998 American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed; thousands were injured and 224 died. Algerians were caught in 1999 crossing into the United States from Canada with bomb-making material. Two years later a bomb attack on the USS Cole in Yemen harbor killed 17 American sailors and caused $250 million in damage to the vessel. These are just some of the overt acts of terrorism perpetrated during the Clinton years.
What was his administration’s response?
Among other impotent acts: trying to buy-off the Taliban with financial aid, negotiating with the Yemenites to allow FBI agents to investigate, prosecuting a few low-level terrorists, agonizing over whether terrorism was a law enforcement or a military problem, counseling "restraint," avoiding "escalation of the cycle of violence" — and, of course, antiseptically and fruitlessly lobbing cruise missiles onto a Sudanese aspirin factory and abandoned tents in the Afghan desert.
What did the Clinton administration not do?
It did not beef up our intelligence capabilities, especially recruitment of agents; indeed, it prohibited hiring indigenous spies. It did not impose punishing economic and diplomatic sanctions on nations that supported the terrorists. It did not force our actual and putative allies to expel and/or wipe out terrorist cells in their countries. It did not secure our air transportation system. It did not appropriate adequate funds for our military. It did not augment our covert forces, let alone unleash them against known terrorists. It did not hit nations that host terrorists. It did not rescind the infamous Ford executive order prohibiting assassinations. And when it could have had Osama bin Laden in its cross-hairs — literally, it seems, according to the Associated Press — Clinton chickened out, fearing "collateral damage." (Last week he had a lesson in "collateral damage.")
In other words, the Clinton administration did not say "No." "No, America will not be attacked, America will not be cowed, America will not succumb to the wrath of radical Muslims." And in not saying that one simple word — literally and figuratively — and in not acting in accordance with all the implications of "No" — the Clinton administration sanctioned the terror that had been visited upon America and its allies.. That sanction has now cost the lives of thousands of innocent people, and irrevocably altered the nature of life in America.
John Galt recognized the destroyers and where the fight had to be. "I saw," he said, "that the enemy was an inverted morality — and that my sanction was its only power." Thankfully, the words of our president, George W. Bush, show that he, too, understands Rand’s principle of "the sanction of the victim" — and that America will be victim no more.