So far the authorities in Oregon are handling the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge headquarters pretty well. They seem to be following a low-conflict approach rather than letting their egos get in the way, so the standoff hasn’t erupted into violence. That kind of low-conflict approach had helped to end an earlier standoff near the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada, but some pundits are now arguing that the earlier soft approach is what emboldened Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan to take this latest action.
I’m not so sure. All they’ve done is seize an empty building in the middle of the frickin’ wilderness, which doesn’t exactly strike me as the sort of bold and decisive victory that will put The Fear of God into the hearts of jackbooted government bureaucrats. I mean, there’s nothing around it for miles:
I think the current slow and easy approach taken by law enforcement is the right idea. Some people with ideological objections have called for police to try to force them out, but that tactic has a way of ending badly. In fact, I think law enforcement should bend over backwards for these guys. Check out this picture of the MNWR headquarters building that has been occupied by the protesters:
It’s not exactly the Nakatomi tower, is it? There are a few other buildings on the site. I can’t tell from news reports if they’ve been occupied, but I’m sure wildlife refuge employees can’t use any of the buildings as long as there are armed gunmen on the premises. You can the layout in this aerial photo:
One thing that immediately stands out is that these are not large modern structures. Many of them look like storage sheds. None of the buildings look very expensive. That makes me think they would be easy to replace.
I don’t want to do anything violent like bombing the buildings, but I can’t help thinking…if the Bundy brothers and their militia want that site so much, why not let them have it?
Just walk away. Tell the militia, “Hey, we’re gonna back off a mile or two down the road. You guys take your time, have fun, and when you’re ready to leave, just walk on out to where we’re parked, and we’ll help get you out of here. Good luck and God bless!”
The police can throw up a cordon to keep the militia guys from being resupplied, and of course to arrest them as the hostage negotiating team talks them into coming out.
Meanwhile, the MNWR headquarters staff can get some help from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to quickly throw up some temporary buildings.
With police blocking anyone who tries to leave the old headquarters building, everyone who works at the refuge can report to the new building and get on with their lives, and let the Bundy militia sit around in their dingy buildings in the middle of nowhere. In the cold. Without electrical power. As their food and water run out.
The militia might try to take over the new building, but now that authorities are aware of the threat, they could easily defend it with a handful of rifle-toting deputies in foxholes and guard towers (also handily available from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers).
Of course they might just let the militia take over the new headquarters one night so that the MNWR employees can just go back to their original building. Letting the militia keep the cheap prefab buildings makes things simpler for everyone. And at that point you can pretty much just bulldoze a 10-foot berm around them and be done with it.