Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

September 21, 2001

Don't say we didn't warn you.

Amazingly, there was one columnist who predicted the World Trade Center attack, a prescient bit of punditry that, if I were the FBI, would immediately cause me to call him in for at least a few questions. It was in the weeks leading up to New Year's Day, 2000 – remember the terrorist-mania that gripped the nation and its leaders? Sandy Berger was telling us not to go out on New Year's Eve, and the Y2K hysteria was at its peak: America, we were told, was the target of a terrorist plot, and Millennium Madness was at its height. As the hyperbole reached a pitch of self-generated hebephrenia, one columnist hit the nail on the head with the following:

"Is it really too late to stanch the rising sense of panic that seems to be the leitmotif of the new year and the new era? Are we stuck forever with the draconian 'anti-terrorist' measures that violate our liberty and what is left of our dignity? Must we live in eternal expectation that some inexplicably evil disaster, such as the World Trade Center bombing, could wipe us out in the next moment?"


My God, what did this pundit know that eluded the rest of us? What could he have possibly deduced that the intelligence services of the West, not to mention his fellow pundits, failed to see? In looking back at this screed, dated December 22, 1999, the sense of deja-vu only increases as we read further, to wit:

"Government officials are probably telling the truth about the lack of evidence for any particular plot, but they are right to batten down the hatches and sound the alarm anyway – because we are living in a state of perpetual siege. As the arbiter and enforcer of the post-cold war order, the main financial and military prop of repressive regimes throughout the world, we have become the targets of every aggrieved faction on earth. As we intervene, on a global scale, in the civilizational conflicts of nonwestern nations – which we can neither understand nor ameliorate – we are reaping a whirlwind of hatred. The current terrorist scare more than confirms Samuel P. Huntington's thesis 'that Western intervention in the affairs of other civilizations is probably the single most dangerous source of instability and potential global conflict in a multicivilizational world.' Given Huntington's insight, it is no surprise that we are 'celebrating' the holiday season cowering in our homes, afraid to get on a plane or even to venture out on New Year's Eve."


Okay, okay, so if you haven't guessed already, our prescient pundit was … me. Now, I don't want to take any special credit, here, because certainly I was not alone in predicting this disaster. During the last presidential campaign, Patrick J. Buchanan had this to say:

"How can all our meddling not fail to spark some horrible retribution .... Have we not suffered enough – from PanAm 103, to the World Trade Center, to the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam – not to know that interventionism is the incubator of terrorism. Or will it take some cataclysmic atrocity on U.S. soil to awaken our global gamesmen to the going price of empire? America today faces a choice of destinies. We can choose to be a peacemaker of the world, or its policeman who goes about night-sticking troublemakers until we, too, find ourselves in some bloody brawl we cannot handle."

BARRELING TOWARD WAR's writers have been warning of the dangers of interventionism since our website was founded, and we have not exactly been lone voices in the wilderness in expressing our grave doubts as to the safety and permanence of the so-called Pax Americana. There have been plenty of warnings; the problem is that no one was listening. And now that we are all paying the price of empire – now that the 5,000-plus victims of the 9/11 catastrophe have paid with their lives – it seems the people of the United States are even less willing to listen, and, instead, are embarking on a course that could reap a whirlwind far more terrible than anyone dares to imagine. Samuel Huntington's thoughtful remarks would, in today's context, be considered nothing less than high treason, and dismissed out of hand by the frothy-mouthed pundits as proof positive of "anti-Americanism." There is irony aplenty in that, but we don't have time to contemplate the tragedy and stupidity of it: we can only look on, in awe and infinite sadness, as the nation barrels toward war.


The flag-waving blowhards among us are jumping on this as their opportunity to get what they have always wanted: a police state. A national identity card, a crackdown on "seditious" or "inflammatory" websites, subsidies for politically-connected industries, a huge influx of cash into the "defense" industries, talk of the draft being revived: all of these proposals are now being seriously considered, and can only lead to the centralization and militarization of American society. As fools drape themselves in the flag, and get away with the most un-American claptrap imaginable, real patriots are pilloried as subversives – and the Pentagon suggests that the use of nuclear weapons against an invisible enemy is not an unreasonable proposition.


The madness of the mad bombers, it seems, is contagious, and is now infecting American society. Our own ayatollahs in the media, and among the punditry, condemn any and all dissent as proof of treason. Conservatives in general seem to have ditched their opposition to Big Brother government in their haste to jump on board the war-wagon, and all criticism of Israel is now considered proof that the critic is in league with Osama bin Laden.


Meanwhile, the American economy is going into terminal meltdown, as the loss of confidence that followed the WTC attack is exacerbated by the US government. Lew Rockwell has written eloquently of how "the government has compounded the destruction wrought by the terrorists, and added to the economic miseries of the moment." But these people have only just gotten started: before they're done, not only the economy but also the US Constitution will be in shreds.


Yes, don't say we didn't warn you. This site was founded on the strength of the proposition that we can't have a Republic – a government that is strictly limited – and also have an empire on which the sun never sets. In contemplating what lies before us I am haunted by a quotation from the Old Right polemicist Garet Garrett, who wrote:

"Between government in the republican meaning, that is, Constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other hand, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other. That we know. Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people."


I'm afraid, however, that those who saw this coming will become victims of what I call the Cassandra Complex. Cassandra, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Loved by the god Apollo, Cassandra was granted the gift of prophecy, but when that love went unrequited, the sun god turned on his beloved by making the gift useless: her prophecies would be accurate, but no one would believe them. It was Cassandra who warned the Trojans of that infamous wooden horse, but her prediction that Greeks bearing gifts would be the Trojans' undoing was dismissed as the ravings of a madwoman.


When the Trojan horse of imperialism and interventionism entered the American consciousness, the dire predictions of our American Cassandras – myself included – were ignored and even suppressed, denounced as not only "extremist" but, now, even traitorous. Apollo's revenge will be America's undoing, and, as the gods look down, the Fates spin their threads, entangling us all in their machinations….


What is truly depressing, my friends, is that if the choice were put to a vote of the people today, Empire would win out. This may change, in a few weeks, a few months, a few years – but right now, in the rush for vengeance, the American people seem to have forgotten their heritage. One more WTC-like catastrophe, one more terrorist attack, is likely to push us into martial law – and the indefinite suspension of what is left of our liberties. When that day comes, just remember this: you had plenty of warning – and there's no turning back.

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