Remember what happened after 9/11, when America took a new path

Now that the 9/11 remembrances have ended for another year, let’s remember what happened afterwards. Let’s remember how Bush Jr. used our weakness and hysteria to reshape America on a scale achieved by few presidents.

Mt Rushmore as it will be, with President Bush

Self-government begins with memory. Remember the America that George Bush Jr. inherited. The economy was growing rapidly (+4.4% in 2000. Unlike today’s Trump growth, fueled by drunk-like deficits, the Federal government was running a surplus (+2.3% in 2000) and paying off the debt (the debt/gdp ratio peaked at 65% in 1995; it was 54% in 2000). Spending on defense was under 3% in 1999 and 2000 for the first time since WWII.

Then we elected George W. Bush. His first major act was to cut taxes for the rich, sending the Federal budget back into the red (the 2001 and 2003 bills). This was also done by Reagan and Trump. Useful idiots on the Right say that the GOP is the fiscally responsible party, in the long tradition of America politics featuring declarations that up is down. The tax cuts were sold to us as a growth-booster, but began a decade-long period of slow growth and ruinous deficits..

Then came 9/11. With Bush’s help, it was the most effective military op ever. Bush used it to ramp up military spending (reaching 4.6% of GDP in his last budget). Much of it was spent on high-tech weapons of little or no use fighting terrorists. He began a major domestic surveillance program (much of it illegal), continued by his protégé Obama. He began a major program of foreign wars, continued by Obama – and now Trump. He soiled our reputation – even in our own eyes – by embracing large-scale use of torture (Obama, the good protégé, tinkered: ended torture, began assassinations – even of an US citizen).

Using his increased public support after 9/11, he made decisive changes in America.

  • He shifted the US from its post-WWII policy of containment and support for international law (largely a US-driven creation) to one of militaristic aggression — quite mad for a world in which new power centers are arising).
  • He decisively broke with the New Deal patterns, weakening the regulatory apparatus ability to interfere with corporate profits — and diminishing the influence of other interests, such as unions and environmentalists.
  • He decisively broke with generations-old legal precedents (e.g., torture, indefinite detention without trial) or centuries-old (e.g., preemptive war, use of mercenaries).
  • He initiated the regime of security theater at airports, training America to act like sheep before government employees.

Bush continued some trends in US foreign policy. Reagan overthrew a secular regime in Afghanistan, allowing Islamic radicals to take power. Bush Jr. overthrew a secular regime in Iraq, allowing an Islamic regime to take power. Obama helped overthrow a secular regime in Libya, allowing radical Islamic elements to take over. Trump is trying to overthrow a secular regime in Syria, so Islamic jihadists can take over. Perhaps someday our rulers will tell us why.

We so loved Bush Jr. that we re-elected him and his claim that He Made America Safe (because Up is Down). We gave him the ultimate compliment of electing Obama, who continued so many of Bush’s policies (expanding some, toning others down). We elect to Congress people that support these policies. This is the America that we have built.

After memory, self-government consists of learning and a resolve to do better. These are the simple three steps to political reform. Let’s begin soon. The steps after those are much more difficult.

Other posts about Bush Jr., a transformational president

Let’s honor our generation’s greatest leader, one of the chief builders of a New America.

Tom Engelhardt’s Still Living in Cheney’s World .

Mark Danner’s articles at the NYRB about Bush’s assistants: “Rumsfeld: Why We Live in His Ruins“ and “In the Darkness of Dick Cheney.“

Also see these about Obama’s policy of “Hope and Change.”

  1. A guide to our Middle East Wars – change you cannot see.
  2. Stratfor looks at Obama’s foreign policy, sees Bush’s foreign policy.
  3. Motto for the Obama administration: “The more things change, …”.
  4. Change, the promise and the reality.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about bin Laden, about al Qaedaabout jihad, and especially these…

  1. Lies about 9-11 that justified our invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.
  2. Thoughts about 9-11-01 by Rebecca Solnit — Remember what happened on that day, and imagine what could have followed if we had been wiser.
  3. The vital things to know about 9-11, painful and so seldom mentioned today.
  4. About the mysteries of the 9-11 attack — Articles questioning the standard story.
  5. Bin Laden won, with our assistance. Our applause shows the scale of his victory. — About “Zero Dark Thirty”.
  6. It’s not too late to learn from 9/11. But soon it will be.
  7. Commemorate the 15th anniversary of 9/11 by understanding what followed.
  8. Remember that 9/11 was the most effective military op, ever.

Books to help you more clearly see our America.

All that has changed since these were written is that we have accepted the new America as our America.

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World by Tom Englehardt (2014).

The United States of Fear by Tom Englehardt (2011).

Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World
Available at Amazon.
The United States Of Fear
Available at Amazon.

26 thoughts on “Remember what happened after 9/11, when America took a new path”

  1. I believe the Bushwa’s promises ‘disengaged foreign policy’ were just campaign lies. I believe he always intended some sort of major regime-change action against Iraq (and other countries on the regime change list, but with Iraq first).

    His regime took the set-back of 9/11 and used it to their advantage. They committed a lot of their covert assets for Iraq regime immediately to Afghanistan–which is why their response was so quick. They just had to find other proxy forces to help them, which they did. Then they systematically concocted an invasion and occupation of Iraq that went way beyond the original plans. Later, under Obomber, the CIA and the DoD (rivals but also cooperating rivals) revived their proxy war regime change dreams. They very quickly sold the sheepish public on what a great job Libya was (only later did Obomber scream at Cameron about the shit-show it had become). And then mostly kept operation Sycamore Timber against Syria completely out of the realm of public discussion. The most remarkable thing about Obomber was just how much continuity he provided in follow on to the Bushwa.

    1. >>I believe the Bushwa’s promises ‘disengaged foreign policy’ <>And then mostly key operation Sycamore Timber against Syria completely out of the realm of public discussion<<

      NOT KEY, but KEPT.

      I guess 'mostly' and 'completely' don't go well.

      Sorry for the bad style and mistakes.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        These are comments. So long as the content is clear, nobody should worry about the details! Much like chatting at the pub. Grammar and such isn’t important.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Even a blind squirrel can find a nut if it is large enough. Or perhaps more appropriate, “in the land of the blind, a one-eyed …”

      1. Larry,

        As an FBI Agent during Watergate I heard another agent slam the phone down on his conversation with the corrupted AG Mitchell. Mitchell terminated the agent’s wire tap that was recording information of Nixon’s complicity with the Teamsters and Organized Crime.

        We at the Buzzard’s Blog have camped on the corrupt Orrin Hatch’s trail for decades. We have been and are a pain in the Deep State ass for years. We’re no stranger to what you’ve posted and have always understood and believed.

        The painful part turned into what I should have more clearly described as “painful ecstasy” over seeing so much ‘stuff” in so little space. That prompted the “thank you!” to you. Airborne! or Oh Rah! whatever fits. One more hearty “Thank you!” from Wayne at the Ole’ Buzzard’s Blog.

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor


        As someone who has long struggled with these questions, I no longer have much faith in the usual perspectives.

        What we call “corruption” is the natural process of the government responding to its new stakeholders. Ditto for the “Deep State.” If we choose not to run America, there is little point to us whining about the results of others doing so.

        Perhaps pointing out these things will motivate people to become politically active. If not to risk their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor”, then at least get off their butts (away from the screens), vote and get involved in their local politics. But years of people both smarter and better informed than I — and with much louder voices — doing so has had no visible effect. So color me skeptical.

        At the FM website I’m experimenting with other methods of inspiring or motivating people. Showing them a mirror, evoking disgust at what we’ve become. Comparisons with the deeds of past Americans, and past people in Western History. Showing visions of likely dark futures and possible good ones. And looking at the fringes, left and right, for new ideas and insights.

        Nothing looks promising so far. But I’m continuing the search, from lack of better alternatives.

  2. This may be offtopic but I would like to see American buildings and everything else that is constructed to be up to a higher standard of Aesthetics surpassing the best of the past prior to modernity including Renassiance architecture.

    I really dislike the area that I travel to and live in to be so dreadfully ugly.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “This may be offtopic but I would like to see American buildings and everything else that is constructed to be up to a higher standard of Aesthetics”

      Free markets. If you pay for it, you get to choose the aesthetics.

    2. The problem becomes who decides the aesthetics? I could certainly agree with a little mroe effort being put into such buildings being pretty in GENERAL, of course.

    3. You are right although I have in mind infrastructure like bridges. Which used to be built with more aesthetic considerations in mind.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        That’s an interesting point. The design of the new bridge across San Francisco Bay was selected in large part due to its aesthetics (at considerable extra cost).

        But are modern bridges, in general, less attractive than older ones? Lots of very ugly older bridges out there.

    4. Infrastructure used to be built, period! We need to start doing that again. I’ll take new bridges being ugly if it means new bridges get built!

    5. @SF
      ”Infrastructure used to be built, period! We need to start doing that again. I’ll take new bridges being ugly if it means new bridges get built”

      I agree but functional aesthetics have been done competently even in ancient Rome. Functional and beautiful yet with our better technology we do worse.

      Its like running backwards from a record as much as possible when we can surpass the heights of our ancestors

    6. ”But are modern bridges, in general, less attractive than older ones? Lots of very ugly older bridges out there.”

      Indeed in the premodern era? If so then its better to imitate or surpass the best of the past rather than languishing in mediocrity in terms of aesthetics that is also functional.

  3. Larry, ‘since up is down’:

    “in the land of the blind, a one-eyed …” man is a slave. This was part of the Bush Putsch.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      I agree. Sad but true. But it wasn’t a Putsch. Our elected representatives supported him, and we returned them in the three elections during his term — and we re-elected Bush. Obama and Congress supported almost all of Bush’s changes — and we that Congress three times, and re-elected Obama. Now Trump is continuing Bush’s policies.

      Saying it was a putsch shifts the responsibility away from where it belongs in a Republic — on us.

  4. Larry,

    Now that I’ve grabbed your ear for a bit …

    We’ve a scope and sequence of instruction prepared that is titled, “The Institutional Memory of Major Case Investigations and Visual Analytics.” Cases we dig into are the “Patty Hearst Kidnapping,” “The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI),” “Waco,” “Ruby Ridge,” “Oklahoma City Bombing,” and other real screw ups that are out there to be re-examined.

    We combine the above casework with visualizations … “a picture is worth a thousand words” stuff. When I describe the course to Criminal Justice professionals, I either get the Deer in the Headlights look or they scream and run for the exits. Nobody but nobody wants to learn from past mistakes … ergo … bring out the skeletons. Yet, if we want to keep repeating these mistakes we’ll keep shoveling the same dirt over them. “Skeptic” … yep … lots of us around but still with a nagging hope for more light on the horizon and too damned ornery to quit.

    As for our Ole’ Buzzard’s Blog, we mostly re-post with commentary and lots of visualization. Our Senator Orrin Hatch timeline can be found here and we’ve a number of blog postings regarding Hatch one of which is here We are working to learn how to get our information out viral.

    These are the methods we are working on to capture the attention of caring people and motivate them to at least some anger. I also send a lot of our work to each individual member of the Utah State legislature. For example, I sent the following one about Big Tobacco with a breakdown of all the legislators by name who had taken the lobbyist’s money. Too much yakking here. Thanks for the opportunity to speak. I read what you write … it makes me think … thank you! Wayne

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “These are the methods we are working on to capture the attention of caring people and motivate them to at least some anger”

      My guess is that you’re on the most likely to succeed track. See my posts about using anger to spark political reform. It’s a dangerous tool, but we’re past the point at which standard and safe methods will help.

      The key is to focus on inspiring anger, and avoid just providing information. Info is the opiate of America’s educated classes, which they consume to feel “involved.”

      To understand our situation, the key to effective action, I suggest this post: A picture of America, showing a path to political reform.

      Good luck! All participants are welcome in this parade!

  5. Oops! Almost forgot something that might add a bit of perspective to the conversation that touched on “anger” as a motivator. I’ve long believed that there are alternatives that can be effective adjuncts to litigation and prosecution. One of which is “shaming.” The following is a work well worth contemplating by researchers and investigators who uncover evidence and prepare cases for trial and by journalists who follow and report the results. Hence my email to every Utah State legislator shaming them individually for taking money from Big Tobacco. I had too much fun putting this together. You’ll see why if you visit the posting here

    SYNOPSIS of “Is Shame Necessary” JENNIFER JACQUET/

    An urgent, illuminating exploration of the social nature of shame, and of the ways in which it might be used, sparingly and pointedly, to promote political change and social reform. In cultures that champion the individual, guilt is advertised as the cornerstone of conscience. Yet while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it proves impotent in the face of corrupt corporate policies.

    In recent years, we have been asked to assuage our guilt about these problems as consumers, by buying organic foods or fair trade products, for example. Yet, unless nearly everyone participates, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is microscopic. Jennifer Jacquet persuasively argues that the solution to the limitations of guilt can be found in shame, retrofitted for the age of democracy and social media. She demonstrates how shaming can function as a nonviolent form of resistance that, in turn, challenges institutions, organizations, and even governments to actuate large-scale change.

    She argues that when applied in the right way, the right quantity, and at the right time, shame has the capacity to keep us from failing other species in life’s fabric and, ultimately, ourselves.

    Credits Follow:

    1 This is a wonderful, important and timely book. It shows us that the glue that really holds society
    together is not laws and diktats but honour and shame. Among (many) other things, Jennifer
    Jacquet has identified and articulated the social tools by which it might just be possible to
    encourage better long term behaviour from those big players—taken corporations—who are
    otherwise able to find their way round the law.

    2 Jacquet uses lively prose and keen insight to explore the myriad ways the shame game continues
    to impact our everyday lives. A sharp and surprising dissertation that puts the many facets of shame
    in a whole new light.

    3 In the age of Anthony Weiner and Miley Cyrus, shame seems an antiquated concept—a quaint
    tool of conformity-obsessed collectivist societies, replete with scarlet letters and loss of face. In this
    thought-provoking, wonderfully readable book, Jennifer Jacquet explores the psychology and
    sociology of shame. In the process, she argues that shaming is far from obsolete, and can be an
    effective weapon wielded by the weak against the strong.”

    4 Shame is no longer unfashionable, thanks to Jennifer Jacquet. This book describes, in sparkling
    prose, how important a sense of shame is to civilized life, and provides some fascinating insights as
    to the role of social media in providing a new tool to moderate shameless behavior.

    5 A book that gives shame a good name—and just in time—because it reinforces our better angels,
    cements our communities, and crucially, because our planet needs us to feel it. Well argued,
    beautifully written, sophisticated and down to earth.

    6 Shaming is society’s natural stabilizer and organic risk-management mechanism, and one that is
    ignored in modernity, particularly in the virtual world. Worse: it has been largely ignored by
    researchers before Jennifer Jacquet, whose book gives us an insightful treatment of a vital topic.

    7 It’s no secret: we’re a celebrity-obsessed, media-driven culture, and shame-or more precisely, the
    act of shaming others or of feeling ashamed-is part of our DNA. But what if we could use shame as
    a tool for good? Jennifer Jacquet certainly thinks we can. Her new book mines the possibilities of
    shame to be used as an agent for positive change. Where the book lands is as unexpected as it is

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “It shows us that the glue that really holds society together is not laws and diktats but honour and shame.”

      That’s not correct as stated. There are many different forms of societies. The West, as we know it, was an honor-based society. But I doubt that is true today, as we evolve into something else.

      Honor-shame based societies require high levels of trust and cohesion. As we bring in large numbers of people from very different societies, and lose faith in our own cultural norms, that trust and cohesion is lost. Making an honor-based society impossible.

      James Bowman has written much about this. See the articles about honor at his website. He’s also written a book about this.

      1. Larry … all points well taken. On this site, you all are so cerebral I feel way out of my league weighing into some of the conversations. After this, I’m going to restrain the compulsion to respond so often.

        Reflecting on the sociopath/psychopath personality type, there is little if any shame in them. Both types are often devoid of the capacity for being shamefully responsible or remorsefully shameful. There are differences, but from my understanding having the capacity for shame isn’t a difference. We’ve a couple of postings that speak to these issues here and here Your work is used, with attribution, in one of them.

        One of my favorite quotes is, “Tis’ vile to rob a hen roost of hen, but thieving largely makes us gentlemen.” I’m persuaded that the majority of the Goodfellas in the Swamp are nothing much more than a bunch of greedy chicken thieves in suits … not sociopaths or psychopaths. Therefore, a large measure of shaming could do them justice and provide us with a whole lot of satisfaction and entertainment … speaking for myself of course. The Ole’ Buzzard

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “After this, I’m going to restrain the compulsion to respond so often.”

        Please don’t. Your comments have been both incisive and informative. We need more like you!

        “Reflecting on the sociopath/psychopath personality type”

        My knowledge of psychology is nil, but I have experience with our rich and senior executive classes. Both seem to me to have an unusually large fraction of what we laypeople call sociopaths (ie, having a more than usual display of psychopathic traits, but are highly functional). As many have noted, it seems as if being a sociopath is almost a requirement to become a CEO.

        Was this always so? Or is this a result of how America has evolved during the past few generations? These cross-temporal comparisons are difficult to make, but important to know.

        “Therefore, a large measure of shaming could do them justice and provide us with a whole lot of satisfaction and entertainment”

        In my experience (ie, annecdata), sociopaths are beyond feeling shamed. They can, however, but shunned. As in the frontier West, where someone known as a liar or coward would be avoided. People would not employ them, or (depending on the circumstances) do business with them where the transaction required trust (as many did, back then).

        But our large and atomized society lacks the ability to do that. Our loss of faith makes shaming and shunning even more difficult to do ** Hence the increased legalism, attempts to build institutional substitutes for trust.

        ** As an arbitrator, we used to say that we should award Oscars, not money. It seemed like almost everybody lied. Taking an oath before God is a joke for people who don’t believe in God (ie, more specifically, punishment or reward in the afterlife) — which few do these days.

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