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Five Years After 9/11: Why Did Bush Blunder?
On Sunday, five years less a day after Saudi and Egyptian terrorists killed 3,000 Americans, the New York Times reported in More Muslims Arrive in U.S., After 9/11 Dip:
"In 2005, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent United States residents—nearly 96,000—than in any year in the previous two decades." [By Andrea Elliott, September 10, 2006]
Of course, no foreign Muslim can hurt us here in America unless we let him into America. But the Bush Administration, instead of securing the borders, is ginning up another round of war fever.
Iran in 2006 is being compared to Germany in 1938—although the clearest comparison is to Iraq in 2002.
Of course, the Iranian Shi'ite government's new influence in the Persian Gulf, which we're supposed to worry so much about, is the result of the Administration destroying the Iraqi Sunni secular regime that was deterring Iran—and replacing it with a Shi'ite-dominated administration with close ties to Iran.
As I've been pointing out for some time now, rather than doing something simple and sensible such as increasingly disconnecting America from the chaos of the Muslim world, the Grand Strategy of the Bush Administration in the half decade since 9/11 has contradictorily consisted of
- Invade the world
- Invite the world
- In hock to the world
Websites like Belmont Club try to reassure the faithful by offering ever more convoluted explanations of what the Administration's master strategists are actually up to. But the suspicion is growing that, rather than being masterful Machiavels always seeing a half-dozen steps ahead, the White House has simply lacked the competence to judge what its various spasmodic actions will unleash.
Is there an underlying rationale to Invade-Invite-In Hock?
Or has American policy simply been the chaotic outcome of the shifting power struggles of Administration players each in the grip of his own idée fixe?
Whether you're a Pollyanna optimist or a paranoid pessimist, it's still an oddly comforting assumption that somewhere, behind all the nonsensical propaganda, there is somebody smart who is secretly pulling the strings to achieve his goals, whatever they may be.
That there's an Inner Circle comprised of profoundly competent men plotting the course of history is one of the most popular staples of science fiction. In Star Wars, the Jedi Knights battle each other to determine the fate of the galaxy. In Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, psychohistorian Hari Seldon has scientifically grasped what will happen for the next 1,000 years.
The same pattern is found in science fiction by "serious" authors. The climaxes of both famous English mid-century dystopian novels, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984, are didactic dialogues in which omniscient and omnipotent Inner Circle representatives proudly explain to the idealistic main characters the sinister logic behind the regime's disinformation.
In 1932, Huxley's Mustapha Mond, the brilliant physicist turned global oligarch, details why the government requires everyone to dither away his or her time on hedonism.
Then in 1948, Orwell followed with the horrifying encounter between Outer Party member Winston Smith and O'Brien of the Inner Party:
"'How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?'
"Winston thought. 'By making him suffer,' he said.
"'Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? … If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face— for ever.'"
So—has America's policy since 9/11 been dictated by benevolent Obi-wan Kenobis and Hari Seldons or by evil Mustapha Monds and O'Briens?
"Neither," suggests Gregory Cochran, the physicist and geneticist, who correctly pointed out in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was too broke to have a nuclear bomb program. "There is no Inner Party in our government. They just don't know what they are talking about."
The reality, in Cochran's view, is more like Idiocracy, the funny new movie from the wonderful Mike Judge, creator of King of the Hill and Office Space, whom I profiled in VDARE on 3/26/06. A 100 IQ soldier played by Luke Wilson is accidentally frozen for 500 years. When he awakes, he discovers that everyone he meets is a moron.
Who is behind this horror? The hero is whisked off to the White House. But instead of meeting an all-seeing Mustapha Mond who can reveal the inner workings of the dystopia, the "President of America" turns out to be a professional wrestler as clueless as the voters who elected him, with a cabinet chosen to make him feel intellectually adequate by comparison.
Similarly, consider, today's Number Three man in the Pentagon from 2001 to 2005, the civilian neoconservative "intellectual" Douglas Feith. He was notoriously described as "the #$%^&*@ stupidest guy on the face of the earth" by General Tommy Franks, whose own mental acuity reminded few observers of, say, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, the victor of Midway.
In a memo a few days after 9/11, Feith proposed first attacking South America as " a surprise to the terrorists," which, it indeed would have been, as well as a surprise to the rest of humanity over the age of two.
Feith's reasons for wanting to use American military might to slaughter random Arab merchants who do business on the Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil " Triple Border" (as well as anybody else who happened to be in the vicinity) were no doubt deeply personal. (Feith's longtime law partner in "Feith & Zell" was L. Marc Zell, who is a prominent spokesman for extremist Zionist settlers in the West Bank.)
Still, Feith's plan was also flagrantly ridiculous. As a coherent entity, "the terrorists" exist even less than any Bush Administration "Inner Party". There are no "the terrorists"— just terrorists, many of whom hate each other, and many of whom are no threat to the U.S. (And there were definitely no terrorists endangering America in remotest South America.)
Yet, rather than being eased out of his crucial position immediately after so graphically displaying his unfitness, Feith stayed on for another four years to work his Idiocracy-style mischief, pipelining convicted conman Ahmad Chalabi's lies about Saddam Hussein's purported WMD programs to Dick Cheney.
Meanwhile, the Number Two man at the Pentagon, Paul Wolfowitz, another neoconservative intellectual, was using the opportunity presented by the mass murder committed by Saudi and Egyptian Islamist fanatics based in Afghanistan to call for conquering the anti-Islamist Iraq regime of the secular socialist Sadam Hussein.
While Feith's chief motive appears to have been to kill Arabs, any Arabs, Wolfowitz is widely considered an idealist who actually believed the Administration's flapdoodle about the Arabs being ripe for democracy.
But why would any grown man think such a thing about the Arabs?
We may never know for sure. But private motivations have been known to drive outsiders in the Middle East in the past. For example, on the 684th and last page of T.E. Lawrence's eloquent memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom comes the stunning statement that Lawrence actually had a secret reason for liberating the Arabs in 1917-1918 and he's not going to tell us what it was:
"The strongest motive throughout had been a personal one, not mentioned here, but present to me, I think, every hour these two years.
"I liked a particular Arab, and I thought that freedom for the race would be an acceptable present."
The most likely candidate for Lawrence's favorite Arab was a teenage waterboy. Similarly, we found out in 2005, when Wolfowitz of Arabia was being kicked upstairs to head the World Bank (just like that other failed Defense Department official Robert McNamara), that Wolfowitz's favorite Arab was Shaha Riza, a middle-aged Arab feminist. According to the Washington Post, his girlfriend "shares Wolfowitz's passion for democratizing the Middle East." [Europeans Resist Wolfowitz for World Bank, By Paul Blustein and Richard Leiby, March 18, 2005]
I'm sure Ms. Riza, along with all her family and friends that Wolfowitz met, is highly capable of participating in a Jeffersonian democracy. But one shouldn't help send one's country off to war based on such an unscientific sample.
The least likely candidate for the role of the brilliant Mustapha Mond: the man who actually holds ultimate responsibility—President George W. Bush.
"'He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,' said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. 'It was on his mind. He said to me: "One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief." And he said, "My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it." He said, 'If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it…
"Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks."
Bush's invite-the-world immigration plan makes little sense either as policy or politics. Five years after 9/11, it's becoming obvious that his Administration's invade-the-world strategy reflects mostly the deluded obsessions of a few men of strong passion and weak reason.