America: a sissified nation
Walter E. Williams
8/14/2002 12:00:00 AM - Walter E. Williams
Benjamin Franklin warned, "They that can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor
safety." But that's what the Bush administration and Congress have asked of
Americans -- to give up essential liberty for safety that's not even
By not being fully appreciative of the fact that it's
Washington, not Osama bin Laden, that represents the greatest threat to both
liberty and security, we've gone along with the agenda. Let's look at it.
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the communist government of
East Germany had an extensive network of informers and spies who reported to
the Stasi, the secret police. The Stasi was a carryover from Heinrich
Himmler's feared secret police, the Gestapo.
You say, "Williams, are you suggesting that there are Americans
who want our government to create a network of informants and spies?" That's
precisely what President Bush called for -- hundreds of millions of dollars
to devise innovative ways to spy on Americans. He called his agenda the
Terrorism Information Program (TIP), where electric utility, telephone
repairmen and others having access to our homes and offices would report
"suspicious" activities. Had former President Clinton made the same
proposal, conservatives would have greeted it with open outrage -- but since
it's Bush, shoulder-shrugging indifference carried the day.
Americans have bought into the most massive government growth
since the LBJ days and the attack on our liberties out of the mistaken
belief that there's a tradeoff between liberty and security. We're willing
to permit government to take away our ability to move about freely, take
away our personal privacy, and number and process us -- all in the name of
security against terrorist attacks.
No matter how much of our liberty Washington takes away in the
name of security, there are no guarantees that there won't be another
terrorist attack. Instead of attacking American liberties, the government
ought to go after terrorists in their countries of origin. It should be like
what our military attempted during WWII. Don't wait to defend ships against
the kamikaze -- bomb the fields where they take off.
We know the countries who sponsor, support and harbor
terrorists. They are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea and a few
others. The president should put these countries on credible notice that
should United States suffer a terrorist attack and our intelligence
discovers that, say, Saudi Arabia financed, assisted or harbored the
terrorists, there would be a massive military retaliation that would not
exclude nuclear weapons.
You say, "Would our European allies or the United Nations
support such an action?" I say ignore our European allies and the United
Nations. Their vision of foreign policy is talk and appeasement of tyrants,
a vision that allowed Adolf Hitler to nearly conquer Europe. If Ronald
Reagan had listened to our European allies and the U.N., instead of the evil
empire collapsing, Europe might be a U.S.S.R. satellite by now.
You say, "Williams, you sound like a warmonger!" No, I'm not.
But neither am I willing to wait until a chemical or bacteriological attack
kills millions of Americans or a "dirty bomb" makes one of our cities
uninhabitable for 100 years before there's an effective response to nations
who harbor terrorists.
I detest the initiation of force, but if I see someone building
a cannon aimed at my house, I'm not going to wait for him to fire it. I
would eliminate him and anyone else in his house before he gets a chance to
fire it. But then again, I'm not a member of America's sissified generation.