9/11 and The New Abnormal

--On April 22, 2004, Ron Paul stood before the US House of Representatives and delivered a speech.

He spoke of the soon-to-be-published 9/11 Commission Report, which was — we were told — created to help us understand what really happened.

And yet, as Dr. Paul predicted that day, the report would only prove to answer only a few superficial questions “while raising many new ones.”

What did we really learn?

Not much.

The report only served to make the truth seem more opaque and bewildering.

But it didn’t really matter much anyhow.

The real questions — those most pressing — were left for the people to ask.

9/11, and its aftermath (which was a long, also incredibly horrific, drag), could’ve been an opportunity for us to ask ourselves…

What the proper role of government really is in our lives…

And whether bigger is really better…

And whether or not it’s wise.

(Is the government’s role to rush headlong into wars on our behalf on shaky grounds? Is it to strip us of our rights to protect ourselves? Is it to treat us all like potential terrorists and criminals “for our own safety”? Should our so-called “public servants” really wield so much arbitrary power over the individual?)

Instead, we gave up more and more of our rights for an entirely false sense of security… which ushered in, bit by bit, a “New Normal” that would’ve been entirely unthinkable in the 1990s.

Fast forward to 2020.

The air smells a bit familiar does it not?

“Just as with Sep 11 2001,” reads an article from the Off Guardian blogroll, “the covid19 ‘pandemic’ is being used to initiate a massive paradigm shift in the public consciousness and to render ‘normal’ that which was unthinkable before this began.

“The problem is some of those who opposed the perpetual ‘war on terror’ paradigm ushered in by 9/11 are endorsing or accepting the ‘new normal’ paradigm, because they believe it is benign, essential and may even result in a better world of peace, love and happiness.”

As in 2001…

We are sacrificing our rights (some of us happily) for what amounts to — especially given what we know now — an entirely false sense of security.

Damn the consequences for future generations.

Damn the data that tells us it’s all unnecessary.

(“I believe science*,” the several front yard placards in my neighborhood read… *unless science contradicts what I believe!)

Damn the truth.

The lessons of 9/11 are the lessons of the New Abnormal.

Today, for that reason, we feature a blast from the past…

The speech Dr. Paul gave in 2004 (edited for brevity)…

This speech, as you’ll see, highlights the all-too-relevant lessons of 9/11… and how they relate to our new abnormal.

Read on.

The Lessons of 9/11

By Rep. Ron Paul, MD


Before the US House of Representatives, April 22, 2004

We are constantly admonished to remember the lessons of 9/11. Of course the real issue is not remembering, but rather knowing what the pertinent lesson of that sad day is.

The 9/11 Commission soon will release its report after months of fanfare by those whose reputations are at stake. The many hours and dollars spent on the investigation may well reveal little we don’t already know, while ignoring the most important lessons that should be learned from this egregious attack on our homeland. Common sense already tells us the tens of billions of dollars spent by government agencies, whose job it is to provide security and intelligence for our country, failed.

A full-fledged investigation into the bureaucracy may help us in the future, but one should never pretend that government bureaucracies can be made efficient. It is the very nature of bureaucracies to be inefficient. Spending an inordinate amount of time finger pointing will distract from the real lessons of 9/11.

Which agency, which department, or which individual receives the most blame should not be the main purpose of the investigation.

Despite our serious failure to prevent the attacks, it’s disturbing to see how politicized the whole investigation has become.Which political party receives the greatest blame is a high stakes election-year event, and distracts from the real lessons ignored by both sides.

Everyone on the Commission assumes that 9/11 resulted from a lack of government action. No one in Washington has raised the question of whether our shortcomings, brought to light by 9/11, could have been a result of too much government. Possibly in the final report we will discuss this, but to date no one has questioned the assumption that we need more government and, of course — though elusive — a more efficient one.

The failure to understand the nature of the enemy who attacked us on 9/11, along with a pre-determined decision to initiate a pre-emptive war against Iraq, prompted our government to deceive the people into believing that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the attacks on New York and Washington. The majority of the American people still contend the war against Iraq was justified because of the events of 9/11.

These misinterpretations have led to many U.S. military deaths and casualties, prompting a growing number of Americans to question the wisdom of our presence and purpose in a strange foreign land 6,000 miles from our shores.

The neo-conservative defenders of our policy in Iraq speak of the benefits that we have brought to the Iraqi people: removal of a violent dictator, liberation, democracy, and prosperity. If all this were true, the resistance against our occupation would not be growing. We ought to admit we have not been welcomed as liberators as was promised by the proponents of the war.

Though we hear much about the so-called “benefits” we have delivered to the Iraqi people and the Middle East, we hear little talk of the cost to the American people: lives lost, soldiers maimed for life, uncounted thousands sent home with diseased bodies and minds, billions of dollars consumed, and a major cloud placed over U.S. markets and the economy. Sharp political divisions, reminiscent of the 1960s, are arising at home.

Failing to understand why 9/11 happened and looking for a bureaucratic screw-up to explain the whole thing — while using the event to start an unprovoked war unrelated to 9/11 — have dramatically compounded the problems all Americans and the world face.

Evidence has shown that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the guerilla attacks on New York and Washington, and since no weapons of mass destruction were found, other reasons are given for invading Iraq.

I’m sure we will hear that the bureaucracy failed, whether it was the FBI, the CIA, the NSC, or all of them for failure to communicate with each other. This will not answer the question of why we were attacked and why our defenses were so poor. Even though 40 billion dollars are spent on intelligence gathering each year, the process failed us. It’s likely to be said that what we need is more money and more efficiency. Yet, that approach fails to recognize that depending on government agencies to be efficient is a risky assumption.

We should support efforts to make the intelligence agencies more effective, but one thing is certain: more money won’t help. Of the 40 billion dollars spent annually for intelligence, too much is spent on nation building and activities unrelated to justified surveillance.

There are two other lessons that must be learned if we hope to benefit by studying and trying to explain the disaster that hit us on 9/11. If we fail to learn them, we cannot be made safer and the opposite is more likely to occur.

The first point is to understand who assumes most of the responsibility for the security of our homes and businesses in a free society. It’s not the police. There are too few of them, and it’s not their job to stand guard outside our houses or places of business.

More crime occurs in the inner city, where there are not only more police, but more restrictions on property owners’ rights to bear and use weapons if invaded by hoodlums. In safer rural areas, where every home has a gun and someone in it who is willing to use it is, there is no false dependency on the police protecting them, but full reliance on the owner’s responsibility to deal with any property violators. This understanding works rather well — at least better than in the inner cities where the understanding is totally different.

How does this apply to the 9/11 tragedies? The airline owners accepted the rules of the inner city rather than those of rural America.

They all assumed that the government was in charge of airline security — and unfortunately, by law, it was. Not only were the airlines complacent about security, but the FAA dictated all the rules relating to potential hijacking. Chemical plants or armored truck companies that carry money make the opposite assumption, and private guns do a reasonably good job in providing security. Evidently we think more of our money and chemical plants than we do our passengers on airplanes.

The complacency of the airlines is one thing, but the intrusiveness of the FAA is another. Two specific regulations proved to be disastrous for dealing with the thugs who, without even a single gun, took over four airliners and created the havoc of 9/11. Both the prohibition against guns in cockpits and precise instructions that crews not resist hijackers contributed immensely to the horrors of 9/11.

Instead of immediately legalizing a natural right of personal self-defense guaranteed by an explicit Second Amendment freedom, we still do not have armed pilots in the sky. Instead of more responsibility being given to the airlines, the government has taken over the entire process. This has been encouraged by the airline owners, who seek subsidies and insurance protection. Of course, the nonsense of never resisting has been forever vetoed by all passengers.

Unfortunately, the biggest failure of our government will be ignored. I’m sure the Commission will not connect our foreign policy of interventionism — practiced by both major parties for over a hundred years — as an important reason 9/11 occurred. Instead, the claims will stand that the motivation behind 9/11 was our freedom, prosperity, and way of life. If this error persists, all the tinkering and money to improve the intelligence agencies will bear little fruit.

Also contributing to this bi-partisan, foreign policy view is the notion that promoting world government is worthwhile. This involves support for the United Nations, NATO, control of the world’s resources through the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, NAFTA, FTAA, and the Law of the Sea Treaty — all of which gain the support of those sympathetic to the poor and socialism, while too often the benefits accrue to the well-connected international corporations and bankers sympathetic to economic fascism.

Sadly, in the process the people are forgotten, especially those who pay the taxes, those whose lives are sacrificed in no-win undeclared wars, and the unemployed and poor as the economic consequences of financing our foreign entanglements evolve.

Regardless of one’s enthusiasm or lack thereof for the war and the general policy of maintaining American troops in more than 130 countries, one cold fact soon must be recognized by all of us in Congress. The American people cannot afford it, and when the market finally recognizes the over commitment we’ve made, the results will not be pleasing to anyone.

A “guns and butter” policy was flawed in the 60s, and gave us interest rates of 21% in the 70s with high inflation rates. The current “guns and butter” policy is even more intense, and our economic infrastructure is more fragile than it was back then. These facts dictate our inability to continue this policy both internationally and domestically.

It is true, an unshakable resolve to stay the course in Iraq, or any other hot spot, can be pursued for years. But when a country is adding to its future indebtedness by over 700 billion dollars per year it can only be done with great economic harm to all our citizens.

Huge deficits, financed by borrowing and Federal Reserve monetization, are an unsustainable policy and always lead to higher price inflation, higher interest rates, a continued erosion of the dollar’s value, and a faltering economy. Economic law dictates that the standard of living then must go down for all Americans — except for the privileged few who have an inside track on government largess — if this policy of profligate spending continues.

Ultimately, the American people, especially the younger generation, will have to decide whether to languish with current policy or reject the notion that perpetual warfare and continued growth in entitlements should be pursued indefinitely.

Ron Paul

The full text of this speech can be found here on Lew Rockwell’s blog.

Chris Campbell

Written By Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell is the Managing editor of Laissez Faire Today. Before joining Agora Financial, he was a researcher and contributor to SilverDoctors.com.