Viewpoint: America drifting closer to the abyss

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11400375347528.jpg’, ”, ‘Paul Craig Roberts’);

Paul Craig Roberts was former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He also served as Associate editor of the Wall Street Journal and was a contributing editor of National Review. He is greatly concerned about the direction this country is taking.

Roberts says he abandoned right-wing Republicanism when he saw the neoconservative element in the party respond to 9/11 by turning a war against terrorism into attacks on Muslim nations. He said: “I realized that the Bush administration was committing a strategic blunder with open-ended disastrous consequences for the U.S. that, in the end, would destroy Bush, the Republican Party and the conservative movement.”

We are seeing that prediction begin to come true as burgeoning scandals and the charnelhouse collapse of the Iraq misadventure gnaw at the edges of the administration’s supports. Bush’s political base is beginning to fracture, and part of it is pulling away from him.

“In Reagan’s time,” said Roberts, “we did not recognize that neoconservatives had a Jacobin

frame of mind. (According to WikiPedia, the term Jacobins is popularly applied to all promulgators of extreme revolutionary opinions: for example, Jacobin democracy is synonymous with totalitarian democracy.) 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, said Roberts, was no neocon. While he accepted some of their schemes, he said, when the neocons went too far, Reagan fired them. George W. Bush promotes them.

Roberts has cast his eye over the American political landscape and spotted a number of serious flaws that bode ill for the future of our country. “Americans have forgotten what it takes to remain free,” he said. “Instead, every ideology, every group is determined to use government to advance its agenda. As the government’s power grows, the people are eclipsed.”

He believes the Bush administration has arrived at a point where it intends to make the American people irrelevant, totally.

“Bewitched by neoconservatives and lustful for power, the Bush administration and the Republican Party are aligning themselves firmly against the American people,” Roberts said. “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.”

Roberts asserts that if the accusation of blackmail troubles you, you should ask why the president will not obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The purpose of FISA, he said, is to ensure that presidents or administrations do not spy for purely partisan political reasons. It provides some oversight and control in the form of FISA judges who evaluate each request for surveillance.

“The only reason for the Bush administration to evade the court is that the Bush administration had no legitimate reasons for its spying,” Roberts said. “This should be obvious even to a naif.”

Roberts sees that as symptomatic of what is taking place in the U.S. today. “The United States is undergoing a coup against the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, civil liberties, and democracy itself,” he said. “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.” (See article about the wiretap scandal.)

The Bush administration, he said, through years of illegal spying has gained control over the media and the opposition party. Neither journalists nor Democrats in Congress want their peccadilloes showing up on television or their favorite online porn sites attached to their names in headlines in the local press.

Roberts declares that “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 ‘controversial.’ 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 debate.”

He rightly notes that Homeland Security and the Patriot Act do nothing to protect us. Instead, they undercut our safeguards by shredding the Constitution and our civil liberties. Roberts commented: “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.”

Why isn’t there more outrage? Why aren’t Americans raising more hell over this dictatorial, fascist regime? Roberts says it isn’t because most Americans agree with administration policies.

“Congress and the media have no fight in them, and neither, apparently, do the American people,” he said. “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 self-destruction. 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 U.S. 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 catastrophe,” Roberts said.

The perpetual “war on terror” serves many interests, last of all, that of the American people’s welfare. Roberts points out that the Federalist Society, from whence came Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, is using the “war” to stack the high court and concentrate power in the executive branch; the neocons are using it to gain their objective of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East; police agencies are using it to remove restraints on their powers and make themselves less accountable; Republicans are using it to achieve one-party rule—their own; the Bush administration is using the war to avoid accountability and limits on executive powers. The arms industries are using it to fatten their bottom lines; terrorism experts use it to get more visibility; and security companies use it to gain customers. The list goes on and on. The lack of debate removes the limits.

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

Roberts’ article appears under the headline: “Who Will Save America?” Who indeed! The full text of his remarks can be read at

From the Feb. 15-21, 2006, issue

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