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Good-Bye to All That



Pat Buchanan is too patriotic to come right out and say it, but the message of his new book, Day of Reckoning, is that America as we have known her is finished. Moreover, Naomi Wolf agrees with him. These two writers of different political persuasions arrive at America’s demise from different directions.

Buchanan explains how hubris, ideology, and greed have torn America apart. A neoconservative cabal with an alien agenda captured the Bush administration and committed American blood, energy, and money to aggression against Muslim countries in the Middle East, while permitting America’s domestic borders to be overrun by immigrants and exporting the jobs that had made the US an opportunity society. War and offshoring have taken a savage economic toll while open borders and diversity have created social and political division.

In her new book, End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, Wolf explains America’s demise in terms of the erosion of freedoms. She writes that the ten classic steps that are used to close open societies are currently being taken in the US. Martial law is only a declaration away.

The Bush administration responded to September 11 by initiating military aggression in the Middle East and by using fear and the “war on terror” to implement police state measures at home with legislation, presidential directives, and executive orders

Overnight the US became a tyranny in which people could be arrested and incarcerated on the basis of unsubstantiated accusation. Both US citizens and non-citizens were denied habeas corpus, due process, and access to attorneys and courts. Congress gave Bush legislation establishing military tribunals, the procedures of which permit people to be condemned to death on the basis of secret evidence, hearsay, and confessions extracted by torture. Nothing of the like has ever been seen before in the US.

The cancer might have metastasized if the Guantanamo detainees had actually been the dangerous terrorists and enemy combatants that the Bush regime declared them to be. Had the administration actually possessed evidence against the detainees, the Bush regime might have succeeded in dispensing with the Constitution. Conviction of the detainees could have led to what Wolf calls a “fascist expansion.” Following the exercise of its new powers, the regime could have broadened the definition of terrorist to include the regime’s critics, thus pulling citizens in general into tribunals devoid of civil liberty protections.

It could still turn out this way in the event of another 9/11 attack, whether real or orchestrated. But momentarily the drive toward tyranny has been blunted, because the vast majority of detainees turned out to be hapless individuals sold into American captivity by warlords responding to the bounty the US paid for “terrorists.” Any unprotected individual was vulnerable to being captured by Afghan and Pakistani warlords and sold as a “terrorist.” The Americans needed to show results, and the Bush regime needed “terrorists” in order to feed the fear its propaganda had generated.

In Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany, the absence of evidence would not have mattered as the judicial system produced the results demanded by the tyrants. However, the US military had not been sufficiently corrupted for the Bush regime’s Guantanamo agenda to succeed. Honorable officers, such as Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, were able to discern that the US government had no information on the detainees and used interrogations in order to rubber stamp the a priori determination that a detainee was a terrorist or enemy combatant. Military officers made these revelations known to real courts before the tribunal process could establish itself.

CounterPunch writer Andy Worthington’s recently published book, The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 759 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, proves that the regime’s claim that it had hundreds of dangerous terrorists at Guantanamo was just another Bush administration lie.

Currently, support for Bush, Cheney, and the neoconservative agenda is low. However, Congress, the press, and elections have proven to be feeble opponents of the Bush regime’s drive toward war and tyranny. It remains to be seen whether the regime has sufficient credibility or audacity to initiate war with Iran or a false flag attack that would revive the fascist expansion of which Naomi Wolf warns.

The Bush administration has been a catastrophe. Its failures are unprecedented. Energy prices are at all time highs. The US is deeply in debt and dependent on foreign creditors. The dollar has lost 60 per cent of its value against other tradable currencies, and its reserve currency status, the basis of American power, is in doubt. The US has lost millions of middle class jobs which have been replaced with low paid domestic service jobs. Except for the very rich, Americans have experienced no gains in real income in the 21st century. As the ladders of upward mobility are dismantled and the middle class struggles and fails, America is left with a few rich and many poor. America’s reputation and credibility are damaged perhaps beyond repair. Congress and the press have enabled the executive branch’s disregard of the Constitution and civil liberty. The US is mired in two lost wars which are pushing Lebanon and nuclear-armed Pakistan into deepening political crises.

As Buchanan concludes, “Our day of reckoning is at hand.”

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:


Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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