My Epiphany: From Reaganaut To Anti-War Radical

A number of readers have asked me
when did I undergo my epiphany, abandon right-wing
Reaganism and become an apostle of truth and justice.  

I appreciate the friendly
sentiment, but there is a great deal of misconception in
the question.

When I saw that the

response to 9/11 was to turn a war
against stateless terrorism into military attacks on
Muslim states, I realized that the Bush administration
was committing a strategic blunder with open-ended
disastrous consequences for the US that, in the end,
would destroy Bush, the Republican Party, and the
conservative movement.

My warning was not prompted by an
effort to save Bush`s bacon. I have never been any
party`s political or ideological servant. I used my
positions in the congressional staff and the Reagan
administration to

the economic policy of the United States. In
my efforts, I found more allies among influential
Democrats, such as Senate Finance Committee Chairman
Russell Long, Joint Economic Committee Chairman Lloyd
Bentsen and my Georgia Tech fraternity brother Sam Nunn,
than I did among traditional Republicans who were only
concerned about the budget deficit.

My goals were to reverse the
Keynesian policy mix that caused worsening "Phillips
trade-offs between employment and inflation
and to cure the stagflation that destroyed Jimmy
Carter`s presidency. No one has seen a "Phillips
trade-off or experienced stagflation since
the supply-side policy was implemented. (These gains are
now being eroded by the labor arbitrage that is
replacing American workers with foreign ones. In January
2004 I teamed up with Democratic

Senator Charles Schumer in the New York Times
and at a Brookings Institution conference in a joint
effort to call attention to the erosion of the US
economy and Americans` job prospects by outsourcing.)

The supply-side policy used
reductions in the marginal rate of taxation on
additional income to create incentives to expand
production so that consumer demand would result in
increased real output instead of higher prices. No
doubt, the rich benefited, but ordinary people were no
longer faced simultaneously with rising inflation and
lost jobs. Employment expanded for the remainder of the
century without having to pay for it with high and
rising rates of inflation. Don`t ever forget that Reagan
was elected and re-elected by blue collar Democrats.

The left-wing`s demonization of
Ronald Reagan owes much to the Republican Establishment.
The Republican Establishment regarded Reagan as a threat
to its hegemony over the party. They saw Jack Kemp the
same way. Kemp, a professional football star
quarterback, represented an essentially Democratic
district. Kemp was aggressive in challenging Republican
orthodoxy. Both Reagan and Kemp spoke to ordinary
people. As a high official in the Reagan administration,
I was battered by the Republican Establishment, which
wanted enough Reagan success so as not to jeopardize the
party`s "lock on the presidency" but enough
failure so as to block the succession to another
outsider. Anyone who reads my book,

The Supply-Side Revolution
(Harvard University
Press, 1984) will see what the real issues were.

If I had time to research my
writings over the past 30 years, I could find examples
of partisan articles in behalf of Republicans and
against Democrats. However, political partisanship is
not the corpus of my writings. I had a 16-year stint as
Business Week`s first outside columnist, despite
hostility within the magazine and from the editor`s New
York social set, because the editor regarded me as the
most trenchant critic of the George H.W. Bush
administration in the business.

The White House felt the same way
and lobbied to have me removed from the William E. Simon
Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies.

Earlier when I resigned from the
Reagan administration to accept appointment to the new
chair, CSIS was part of Georgetown University. The
University`s liberal president, Timothy Healy, objected
to having anyone from the Reagan administration in a
chair affiliated with Georgetown University. CSIS had to
defuse the situation by appointing a distinguished panel
of scholars from outside universities, including
Harvard, to ratify my appointment.

I can truly say that at one time or
the other both sides have tried to shut me down. I have
experienced the same from "free thinking"
libertarians, who are free thinking only inside their
own box.

In Reagan`s time we did not
recognize that neoconservatives had a Jacobin frame of
mind. Perhaps we were not paying close enough attention.
We saw neoconservatives as former left-wingers who had
realized that the Soviet Union might be a threat after
all. We regarded them as allies against Henry
Kissinger`s inclination to reach an unfavorable
accommodation with the Soviet Union. Kissinger thought,
or was believed to think, that Americans had no stomach
for a drawn-out contest and that he needed to strike a
deal before the Soviets staked the future on a lack of
American resolution.

Reagan was certainly no
neoconservative. He went along with some of their
schemes, but when neoconservatives went too far, he
fired them. George W. Bush promotes them. The left-wing
might object that the offending neocons in the Reagan
administration were later pardoned, but there was
sincere objection to criminalizing what was seen,
rightly or wrongly, as stalwartness in standing up to

Neoconservatives were disappointed
with Reagan. Reagan`s goal was to END the cold war, not
to WIN it. He made common purpose with Gorbachev and
ENDED the cold war. It is the new Jacobins, the
neoconservatives, who have exploited this victory by
taking military bases to Russian borders.

I have always objected to
injustice. My writings about prosecutorial abuse have
put me at odds with "law and order conservatives."
I have written extensively about wrongful convictions,
both of the rich and famous and the poor and unknown. My
thirty-odd columns on the frame-up of 26 innocent people
in the Wenatchee, Washington, child sex abuse witch hunt
played a role in the eventual overturning of the
wrongful convictions.

My book, with Lawrence Stratton,

The Tyranny of Good Intentions
, details the
erosion of the legal rights that make law a shield of
the innocent instead of a weapon in the hands of
government. Without the protection of law, rich and poor
alike are at the mercy of government. In their hatred of
"the rich," the left-wing overlooks that in the
20th century the rich were the class most persecuted by
government. The class genocide of the 20th century is
the greatest genocide in history.

Americans have forgotten what it
takes to remain free. Instead, every ideology, every
group is determined to use government to advance its
agenda. As the government`s power grows, the people are

We have reached a point where the
Bush administration is determined to totally eclipse the
people. Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for
power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party
are aligning themselves firmly against the American

Their first victims, of course,
were the true conservatives. Having eliminated internal
opposition, the Bush administration is now using
blackmail obtained through illegal spying on American
citizens to silence the media and the opposition party.

Before flinching at my assertion of
blackmail, ask yourself why President Bush refuses to
obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The
purpose of the FISA court is to ensure that
administrations do not spy for partisan political
reasons. The warrant requirement is to ensure that a
panel of independent federal judges hears a legitimate
reason for the spying, thus protecting a president from
the temptation to abuse the powers of government. The
only reason for the Bush administration to evade the
court is that the Bush administration had no legitimate
reasons for its spying. This should be obvious even to a

The United States is undergoing a
coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil
liberties, and democracy itself. The "liberal press"
has been co-opted. As everyone must know by now, the
New York Times
has totally failed its First
Amendment obligations, allowing Judith Miller to make
war propaganda for the Bush administration, suppressing
for an entire year the news that the Bush administration
was illegally spying on American citizens, and denying
coverage to Al Gore`s speech that challenged the
criminal deeds of the Bush administration.

The TV networks mimic Fox News`
faux patriotism. Anyone who depends on print, TV, or
right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The
Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of

The years of illegal spying have
given the Bush administration power over the media and
the opposition. Journalists and Democratic politicians
don`t want to have their adulterous affairs broadcast
over television or to see their favorite online porn
sites revealed in headlines in the local press with
their names attached. Only people willing to risk such
disclosures can stand up for the country.

Homeland Security and the Patriot
Act are not our protectors. They undermine our
protection by trashing the Constitution and the civil
liberties it guarantees. Those with a tyrannical turn of
mind have always used fear and hysteria to overcome
obstacles to their power and to gain new means of
silencing opposition.

Consider the no-fly list. This list
has no purpose whatsoever but to harass and disrupt the
livelihoods of Bush`s critics. If a known terrorist were
to show up at check-in, he would be arrested and taken
into custody, not told that he could not fly. What sense
does it make to tell someone who is not subject to
arrest and who has cleared screening that he or she
cannot fly? How is this person any more dangerous than
any other passenger?

If Senator Ted Kennedy, a famous
senator with two martyred brothers, can be put on a
no-fly list, as he was for several weeks, anyone can be
put on the list. The list has no accountability. People
on the list cannot even find out why they are on the
list. There is no recourse, no procedure for correcting

I am certain that there are more
Bush critics on the list than there are terrorists.
According to reports, the list now comprises 80,000
names! This number must greatly dwarf the total number
of terrorists in the world and certainly the number of
known terrorists.

How long before members of the
opposition party, should there be one, find that they
cannot return to Washington for important votes, because
they have been placed on the no-fly list? What oversight
does Congress or a panel of federal judges exercise over
the list to make sure there are valid reasons for
placing people on the list?

If the government can have a no-fly
list, it can have a no-drive list. The Iraqi resistance
has demonstrated the destructive potential of car bombs.
If we are to believe the government`s story about the
Murrah Federal Office Building in Oklahoma City, Timothy
McVeigh showed that a rental truck bomb could destroy a
large office building. Indeed, what is to prevent the
government from having a list of people who are not
allowed to leave their homes? If the Bush administration
can continue its policy of picking up people anywhere in
the world and detaining them indefinitely without having
to show any evidence for their detention, it can do
whatever it wishes.

Many readers have told me, some
gleefully, that I will be placed on the no-fly list
along with all other outspoken critics of the growth in
unaccountable executive power and war based on lies and
deception. It is just a matter of time. Unchecked,
unaccountable power grows more audacious by the day. As
one reader recently wrote, "when the president of the
United States can openly brag about being a felon,
without fear of the consequences, the game is all but

Congress and the media have no
fight in them, and neither, apparently, do the American
people. Considering the feebleness of the opposition,
perhaps the best strategy is for the opposition to shut
up, not merely for our own safety but, more importantly,
to remove any impediments to Bush administration

The sooner the Bush administration
realizes its goals of attacking Iran, Syria, and the
Shia militias in Lebanon, the more likely the
administration will collapse in the maelstrom before it
achieves a viable police state. Hamas` victory in the
recent Palestinian elections indicates that Muslim
outrage over further US aggression in the Middle East
has the potential to produce uprisings in Pakistan,
Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. Not even Karl Rove and
Fox "News" could spin Bush out of the

Perhaps we should go further and
join the neocon chorus, urging on invasions of Iran and
Syria and sending in the Marines to disarm Hizbullah in
Lebanon. Not even plots of the German High Command could
get rid of Hitler, but when Hitler marched German armies
into Russia he destroyed himself. If Iraq hasn`t beat
the hubris out of what Gordon Prather aptly terms the
US military adventures against Iran
and Hizbullah will teach humility to the neo-crazies.

Many patriotic readers have written
to me expressing their frustration that fact and common
sense cannot gain a toehold in a debate guided by
hysteria and disinformation. Other readers write that
9/11 shields Bush from accountability. They challenge me
to explain why three World Trade Center buildings on one
day collapsed into their own footprints at free fall
speed, an event outside the laws of physics except under
conditions of controlled demolition. They insist that
there is no stopping war and a police state as long as
the government`s story on 9/11 remains


They could be right. There are not
many editors eager for writers to explore the glaring
defects of the 9/11 Commission Report. One would think
that if the report could stand analysis, there would not
be a taboo against calling attention to the inadequacy
of its explanations. We know the government lied about
Iraqi WMD, but we believe the government told the truth
about 9/11.

Debate is dead in America for two
reasons: One is that the media concentration permitted
in the 1990s has put news and opinion in the hands of a
few corporate executives who do not dare risk their
broadcasting licenses by getting on the wrong side of
government, or their advertising revenues by becoming
The media follows a safe line and
purveys only politically correct information.

The other reason is that Americans
today are no longer enthralled by debate. They just want
to hear what they want to hear. The right-wing,
left-wing, and libertarians alike preach to the
faithful. Democracy cannot succeed when there is no

Americans need to understand that
many interests are using the "war on terror" to
achieve their agendas. The Federalist Society is using
the "war on terror" to achieve its agenda of
concentrating power in the executive and packing the
Supreme Court to this effect. The neocons are using the
war to achieve their agenda of Israeli hegemony in the
Middle East. Police agencies are using the war to remove
constraints on their powers and to make themselves less
accountable. Republicans are using the war to achieve
one-party rule—theirs. The Bush administration is using
the war to avoid accountability and evade constraints on
executive powers. Arms industries, or what President
Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex,"
are using the war to fatten profits. Terrorism experts
are using the war to gain visibility. Security firms are
using it to gain customers.

Readers can add to this list at
will. The lack of debate gives carte blanche to these

One certainty prevails. Bush is
committing America to a path of violence and coercion,
and he is getting away with it.



Paul Craig Roberts [email
] is the author with Lawrence M.
Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice



for Peter Brimelow`s

Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the
recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.