By Justin Raimondo
The fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks has brought us mournful memorials, declarations that we will “never forget,” and outraged realizations that nearly a third of Americans don’t recall what year that signal event occurred. All of this is quite natural, but it isn’t what we need at the moment. Yes, anniversaries are a time for looking back, but I want to do something quite different: I want to look forward, and ask “Where are we now – and where are we going?”
But we can’t see where we are going without understanding where we have been, and thanks to that miracle known as the Internet you can do that by reading something I wrote fourteen years ago, in the Autumn of 2002: “Iraq: First Stop on the Road to Empire.” It is actually a speech I gave to the Washington University chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, in which I gave a pretty thorough accounting of the history that brought us to that day, September 11, 2001, as well as a warning of what the future held.
While the fires ignited by the blast in lower Manhattan had been put out, I warned that a fire had been lighted in the hive mind of our political class, one that, to this day, still smolders and burns and fills our eyes with acrid smoke:
“There is something quite different about the prospect of this war that sets it apart from all the conflicts the U.S. has entered in modern times. It’s something new, and I think we all feel it, and know on it some subliminal level: there’s a change in the air, an electricity that some find exhilarating and others find ominous. I count myself among the latter.
“This new atmosphere was not created by 9/11, but certainly the explosion that sent the World Trade Center hurtling to the earth spread it far and wide. We are not just talking about war fever here, but of a lust for conquest not seen in this country since the Spanish-American war. And plain old-fashioned greed. We had this debate back in the 1890s: in response to the call of the War Party to annex the Spanish dominions a whole movement arose, organized as the Anti-Imperialist League. It was led by what, today, would be called libertarians, and one of its leaders, one Carl Schurz, had this to say:
“’If we take these new regions, we shall be well entangled in that contest for territorial aggrandizement which distracts other nations and drives them far beyond their original design. So it will be inevitably with us. We shall want new conquests to protect that which we already possess. The greed of speculators working upon our government will push us from one point to another, and we shall have new conflicts upon our hands, almost without knowing how we got into them.’”