09/12/2006: For the longest time, I’ve enjoyed reading Paul Craig Roberts. A paleo-conservative and former Reagan official, he has long been an avid supporter of classical economics, not to mention someone who is anything but a party hack.
Ergo, when he raises criticisms of the Bush Administration, he is someone to be taken seriously. A non-supporter of the war in Iraq, Roberts was among the first to challenge the “neoconservative” agenda of of the Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Frum, and Perle Institute of International Relations.
Whlie I consider myself a supporter of the war in Iraq, I generally oppose the neoconservative mindset that says, “Simply overthrow oppressive regimes, install a democratic government, and suddenly the people will start kissing each other and making love instead of war.” I have dubbed that Marxist Conservatism. (It is Marxist in that it is a dialectical antithesis of totalitarian rule and conservative in that embraces old-style Buckleyite anti-Communism, and as doomed to fail as Communism because–like Communism–it takes an overly optimistic view of human tendencies.)
However, I think Roberts has been blinded by his hatred of all things Bush, just as most Bush supporters were/are blinded by their hatred of all things Clinton.
I say that because he has all but jumped onto the 9/11 conspiracy bandwagon. In his latest column, Roberts insists that we take David Ray Griffin–author of Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9-11– seriously, even though Griffin is as deplorable in his one-sided, baseless attacks as Jerry Falwell was with respect to President Clinton.
I reject Griffin for the reason I reject the account of the 9/11 Commission: both were and are seeking to advance political agendas. (Every appointment on the Commission was made to protect either Bush or Clinton. Griffin, on the other hand, seeks to attack Bush at all costs.
For the record: if Bush is guilty of what Griffin is charging, he ought to be impeached, then prosecuted, then executed.
However, conspiracy theorists need to get their heads out of their tin-foil hats for a change and be rational.
For the Griffin conspiracy theory to be true, too many people would be in the know. The conspirators would involve the Pentagon (including several layers of the military spanning different branches of the Service), the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the White House, the NYPD, the FDNY, the New York Port Authority, the FAA, United Airlines, and American Airlines. If those flights were unmanned, then somoene would have had to stage all those calls by people on the planes to their family members. If Bush knew about the attacks in advance and willfully let them happen, again this would have been leaked. A Secret Service agent would have leaked. An FBI or CIA agent would have leaked. Someone from the Pentagon would have leaked. No way in hell this gets swept under a rug if Bush passed on this one.
Such a conspiracy would have required the cooperation–without any leaks–of multiple agencies, including people at all levels of those agencies.
Don’t get me wrong: as someone who listened to replays of the coverage of 9/11 yesterday, I can understand why conspiracy theorists would have explored the possibility of a willful demolition of the WTC. Many witnesses at the time heard what sounded like an explosion, right before each tower fell. That bang could easily have been the result of a profound structural failure.
The WTC towers were built to withstand a direct hit from a Boeing 707, but a 757 is a much larger aircraft. Prior to the collapses, firefighters expressed concern about a potential collapse due to the effect of the heat from the jet fuel-induced fire. Keep in mind that a fueled jet–travelling at 400+ knots–has a large amount of momentum and kinetic energy (not to mention the chemical potential energy of the jet fuel) that was transferred directly to the building. Coupled with the transient structural response due to the impact of the airplanes, a very high danger of collapse existed.)
Due to the extent of the damage, it would be difficult to reconstruct the exact structural scenario that led to the collapse of the towers.
As for the Bush Administration? Let’s face it: political bodies will do what they are predisposed to do. Newton’s First Law of Politics is that a government has a natural tendency to increase in size and scope; a crisis only exacerbates that tendency.
Does anyone honestly think Gore or Kerry would have responded by making government smaller? Remember: the Department for Homeland Security was not an original Bush idea; that was a Democrat idea that Bush eventually embraced.
My point: Bush did what Presidents do in times like this. He seized on the aftermath of 9/11 to make government bigger so he could exercise more control over matters that the public expected him to control.
As a libertarian, I take serious exception with Bush over that: he could have taken the opportunity to beat the drum for drastic government spending cuts while prosecuting the war in Afghanistan. He could also prosecute the war in Iraq while making it clear that we are not going to make it a general habit of using our military to make nations democratic.
Personally, I’d like to see him have a summit with Iran and secure an agreement with them. We could officially apologize for using the CIA to undermine Mossadegh and the Shah, and–in return–we could have a trust and verify relationship that allowed Iran to have nukes while we help ensure that they do not end in the hands of Islammunist paramilitary groups. We could make it clear to Iran that the Israelis and Palestinians have existing agreements, and will respect the right of Israel to fight nations that provide material support to proxy armies that would undermine those peace agreements.
That said, Griffin is guilty of a partisan smear against Bush all wrapped in Christian sanctimony. I am disappointed that Roberts would be so blinded by his hatred of Bush that he would willingly embrace such a nut job.