Monday, January 14, 2008

Ronald Reagan Caused 9/11

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something controversial. Ronald Reagan caused 9/11. Not single-handedly of course (that would give him too much credit). But, his actions led directly to 9/11. And to this day, his followers are not equipped to handle the post-Soviet Union world.

If you listen to most Republicans, Reagan was solely responsible for “winning” the Cold War. Their fantasy is that Regan’s strength and power lead the Soviets to only one conclusion: Their time was through, so they should throw in the towel. This scenario is highly doubtful. Reagan was responsible for the largest peacetime military build-up in US history. He presided over the greatest budget deficits in US history. The National Defense Budget reached a high in 1985. Reagan's buildup, in today's dollars, peaked at $494 billion that year. Think about it: Reagan was spending more on the defense budget during peacetime than any other president since WWII, including the time during the Korea and Vietnam conflicts. Ronald Reagan out-spent the Soviet Union. In their efforts to keep pace with America, their economy crumbled. There was no historic “clash of the Titans” in which Reagan prevailed. He may have told Gorbachev to “tear down this wall,” but his most direct contribution to the end of the Cold War was outrageous defense spending.

The Soviet Union spent an ever-increasing percentage of their budget on defense in order to keep up with Reagan. This directly led to economic downturn and the decline of the USSR. The Soviet Union fell apart. And with that, the fate of thousands of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons fell into the unknown. As Russia struggled to guard and maintain its arsenal, desperate scientists and soldiers were selling their wares to the highest bidder. When a wealthy individual could possess the same capabilities as a nation, that person could make their message heard around the world.

The fall of the USSR ushered in the modern terrorist era. Whereas before we were pitched against a nation, we were now defending ourselves against an enemy without borders who did not operate in accordance with international law. We were now the lone “superpower”; a giant in the world, but unable to look down and see the threats developing all around us.

The World Trade center bombings in 1993 should have been the wake-up call. America was the target, but we weren't being targeted in traditional ways. The new enemy did not follow the same rules. The new enemy did not practice diplomacy nor was he confined to borders. Terrorists moved underneath the radar, praying on the poor governments.

Clinton was trying to move the military in the right direction. A faster, lighter force that could defeat guerilla enemies would need to replace the hulking might that was needed to counter the USSR. He was also working the diplomatic side of the issue. If we could aid the nations where terrorists sought refuge, we could flush them out. If we could entice democracy, the terrorists would lose their footholds.

However, the Reagan faithful saw things differently. When they saw Clinton cut the Pentagon budget, they saw liberal destruction of the Regan strength. No one bothered to address the fact that Reagan built the military up to unsustainable and impractical peacetime levels. Additionally, the success of high-tech munitions in the first Gulf War should have proven the need for “quality” over “quantity”.

They failed to take stock of the new world order and adjust their thinking to match reality. Instead, the Reagan conservatives try to mold the new world order into the old good-vs-evil thinking.

So there we were, trapped in the past to Ronald Reagan’s legacy. Our government officials were too comfortable with how things used to be to realize what they really were. On the eve of those attacks, George W. Bush was elected. He surrounded himself with advisors from his father’s presidency, or even earlier. Men who also thought in the past, who couldn’t see something like this coming. And then it came.

Now here we are, almost seven years later, on the eve of another historic election. The past seven years can be summed up in one word: disaster. The economy is a disaster, the Global War on Terrorism is a disaster, America’s social progress has come to a standstill. What can we do now? Do we elect a leader who has promised us more of the same? Do we elect a leader who will surround himself with advisors from the past?

No. That is not the answer. Bush has proven that we cannot look to the past in order to solve the problems of the future. We must elect a candidate who will have a fresh view. We must elect someone who will move America forward, not backwards. We must move on!

4 comments:

The First Domino said...

I like most of what you say here, but some things perplex me.

I'm not sure if I follow your logic when you say,

"The fall of the USSR ushered in the modern terrorist era."

Your comparison between nation states and terrorists is right on, but I fail to see the connection you suggest: that somehow the collapse of the USSR ushered in "the modern terrorist era."

Could you clarify this nexus?

An who is this "wealthy individual" in the following statement?:

"When a wealthy individual could possess the same capabilities as a nation, that person could make their message heard around the world."

Certainly, not bin Laden and company. If they had anything close to a nuke, I believe that they would have used it years ago.

Further, was America the direct target when terrorist attacked the World Trade Center?

It's my understanding that it was our economic/monetary system that was the real target, underscoring bin Laden's expressed belief that to destroy our economy was the same as destroying our military complex.

You wrote:

"Additionally, the success of high-tech munitions in the first Gulf War should have proven the need for “quality” over “quantity”."

I agree, but how much of what we did later catered to the Military-Industrial Complex?

In his Military-Industrial Complex Speech, of 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, as you perhaps know, outlined his fears and his hopes.

One of those things that he urged was--"balance." He hoped that this balance would be expressed and manifested at all levels of our political and social realities.

You wrote further:

"If we could aid the nations where terrorists sought refuge, we could flush them out. If we could entice democracy, the terrorists would lose their footholds."

This seems to be Bush's policy as well. The only difference I see, is that he/Bush is taking a more direct approach, a more hands-on approach to dealing with the terrorists.

Lest we forget, the storm that struck on 9/11 gathered under Clinton's watch.

Was he the one that eviscerated our Intelligence Community?

I think most of America is on board when you say:

"We must elect a candidate who will have a fresh view. We must elect someone who will move America forward, not backwards. We must move on!"

On a positive note, I liked your article/blog post.

We are, indeed, on the precipice of what could be the destruction of many of the things we cherish about this country.

If that sounded pessimistic, it's not. Despite the danger I see lurking ahead, I believe that men and women of wisdom will see us through it.

I'm confident that they will prevail.

The Public Servant said...

First Domino,
Thanks for posting. I will try to address all of your questions.

1) Terrorism has never been uncommon, but I call this the modern terrorist era because the target of the terrorist attacks has shifted. I believe that this is due in large part to the absence of an anti-US “superpower.” This is a vacuum that was left by the fall of the USSR.
2) The wealthy individual comment was directed more at the idea that the fall of the Soviet Union left thousands of nuclear weapons “available.” It was to highlight the fact that the instability caused by Russia’s implosion could be taken advantage of. I know the wealthy terrorist with the nuke is mostly stuff of movies, however, there are nuclear weapons that are not accounted for. Where have they gone? I’m sure bin Laden would have used a nuclear weapon if he could. But, that involves more risk. The 9/11 attacks were literally under the radar, and that is why they were so effective.
3) I think that America and our military/economic system are interchangeable, as far as a target is concerned. Had the fourth plane reached its target, we may have had a more complete picture. But, what is America without its military and economy?
4) The quality over quantity debate is to highlight the differences between Clinton and Reagan. A bigger military is not necessarily a better military, especially if the size is achieved at the detriment to quality. Chances are we won’t be invading China any time soon. We will be continuing to fight smaller, faster guerilla troops. Why not ensure that they are equipped with the highest quality weapons and skill sets? The problem with the Reagan way of thinking (which continues to prevail in the current administration) is that more does not trump better.
5) As far as aiding the nations in order to flush out the terrorists, we need to be fighting the root causes of terrorism: ignorance, poverty, illiteracy. If America aided nations in improving these areas, and the people were able to improve their situation, terrorism would have a hard time gaining a foothold. I’m not saying that all religious schools breed terrorism, but many do. Unfortunately, these are the only schools available to many impoverished people. Bush is trying to fight fire with fire when we really need to be fighting fire with water. Outwardly fighting against terrorism is only battling the symptoms. We need to be the aid at the root of the problem. People might say that this is too expensive, but imagine how much we could accomplish if we took half the money from Iraq and spent it on aid programs.
6) Yes, 9/11 did gather under Clinton’s watch. The first World Trade Center bombings also took place under Clinton. But, how many people working in that time learned under Reagan? It’s hard to see the new enemy when one is still fighting the old enemy. The government is a big, slow machine that is resistant to change. People get caught up in the bureaucracy and miss the fine details.

I didn’t find your comments pessimistic. I like that you asked questions and I hope I could clarify. I believe that a person can make any point they wish, if they set their mind to it. Too many times do we hear that Reagan was solely responsible for the fall of the Soviet Union. But, what were the ramifications of his methods and ideas? What filled the vacuum of power that was left behind? I’m sure you’ve hear the saying “Better the devil I know.” Sure, the USSR is gone, but did the US take advantage of the situation or did we squander it because we were too busy patting ourselves on the back and stuck in an old way of thinking? Reagan left his mark on the world, I just choose to interpret that mark differently.

classical one said...

Major Kuddos for you on this post. Reagan and the CIA used bliions of dollars to bring muslim fighters from all ove the middle east to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. This group would go on to form Al Qaeda and turn against us, classic blow back.

Reagan also wasted hundreds of billions of dollars on defense spending while the Soviet Union was collapsing anyway. Reagan did not bring down communism, communism brought down communism.

The First Domino said...

Thanks for taking the time to clarify.