September 12, 2005

Strakon Lights Up
Reflections, four years after :
They were attacked!

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They were attacked!   as George W. Bush might put it, but it's a connection that seems to have eluded me as I struggled to refurbish my ruling-class analysis in light of the September 11 atrocities and the Bush Likudniks' revolution. Much as I hate to credit the Dim Emperor with knocking loose any plaques and tangles in my own neural web, his "we were attacked!" mantra has finally got me mulling over who was actually attacked on that day.

The thorniest question I've confronted, over the past four years, is how the Bush neocons came by their ticket to ride — and keep riding — despite the fact that they apparently lacked major sponsors in the ruling class. As I've noted before, the Dark Suits of the financial sector — "Wall Street," for short — don't seem to include many raving Likudniks, despite the fact that Jews are very disproportionately represented there. The Suits have been known to foment some chaos of their own, on occasion, but typically it's of the kind carefully crafted to be profitable (as well as safely distant). Overall, manipulation and exploitation in circumstances of geopolitical stability are more their style.

But that being so, the 9/11 attack on Lower Manhattan had to come as an even greater shock to the Suits than to us wretched weefolk. Wall Street itself, as a specific stretch of pavement and buildings, escaped damage, but Wall Street as an institution did not. Hundreds of investment bankers and support staffers were killed, and many of the financial sector's operations were temporarily disrupted.

According to Nationmaster.com, hardest-hit of all entities was Cantor Fitzgerald Securities, which "lost 685 employees ... considerably more than any other employer," including the New York Fire Department. "This was about two-thirds of its employees." Cantor Fitzgerald, a bond-trading firm, was only in the second rank in terms of size and influence; but first-tier investment houses suffered serious damage as well. The headquarters of Lehman Brothers was wiped out, though the staff escaped. Morgan Stanley, TD Waterhouse, and Oppenheimer Funds also had offices in the Twin Towers: and all were destroyed, of course. Moreover, Salomon Brothers took a body blow when its 47-story Building 7 collapsed in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

The house that I suspect is at the very pinnacle of Dark Suitdom, Goldman Sachs, apparently suffered no direct injury despite being "the fifth largest tenant in Manhattan" according to The Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at Wharton Newsletter (May 2002). But even Goldman Sachs was rocked back on its heels: the newsletter reports that the firm started thinking about moving its headquarters out of Manhattan.

It isn't necessary to argue that 9/11 fundamentally changed the world-view of the Dark Suits; I won't argue it; I don't believe it. I'm contending only that the attack injured the Suits and shook them enough to disrupt their close management of the imperial System and provide an opening for the Likudniks to seize or consolidate their power in Washington. Once that was accomplished, the Dark Suits faced a new status quo. I continue to believe that the Suits, after brushing off the dust of 9/11, could have "fired" the Bush Likudniks without setting off a protracted civil war in the ruling class; the neocons, after all, are not really an established faction of that class, despite the fact that they have a number of rich backers. But even a police action against the Likudniks would have entailed costs, especially costs to the prestige of the U.S. Empire, which is the Suits' most extensive rental property.

Some conspiratorialists may object to my speculation on the grounds that the Dark Suits, as "masters of the Universe," could have been neither shocked by 9/11 nor surprised by it. An example of the sort of thing conspiratorialists may seize upon, and over-interpret, is Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's report that an "internal memo was sent around Goldman Sachs in Tokyo on September 10 advising all employees of a possible terrorist attack. It recommended all employees to avoid any American government buildings." ("Aftershocks," September 14, 2001) But the purported memo referred only to government buildings, and apparently only to such buildings in Japan, not to the Suits' own citadels of power on the Street. Now, perhaps Goldman Sachs distributed other memos, closer to home, that have not come to light. Nevertheless, it is one thing to claim that the Suits picked up some rumblings and quite another to claim that they orchestrated 9/11 themselves.

I think they did not. Certainly their power, being systemic, survived the attack on the World Trade Center; but they suffered death, damage, and disruption at a level that just wasn't necessary for purposes of shocking and motivating other Americans. It's easy to imagine Franklin Roosevelt's having foreknowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor; it's more difficult to imagine the Navy's having such foreknowledge. If evildoers in the Navy had been complicit in the 12/7 plot, it's more likely that those Dark Sailors would have argued for setting up an Army base as the target! If the Dark Suits had orchestrated 9/11, they probably would have insisted on confining the attack to the Pentagon, along with, perhaps, a major outdoor concert or ball game on one of the Bicoasts.

More compelling for this interpretation is the fact that the Suits could not have considered the 9/11 attack on Manhattan to be in their long-range interest. (Unlike the pols who come and go, true ruling-class operators think long range.) If Dark Suits exist at all, by definition it is the defense and expansion of their world system of political-economic exploitation, not the petty interests of Israel, that dominate their strategy.

All that being said, we still have left to us a little room for intelligent conspiratorialism. Let us look to the American Likudniks themselves, and their comrades abroad.

After Little John Kennedy was abruptly de-elected in Dallas, few commentators who were willing to entertain a conspiratorial explanation of the event indicted the traditional Yankees of Wall Street as the culprits. And it would have been strange if they had brought such a charge, since the Yankees owned the Kennedy regime lock, stock, and barrel; indeed the decapitation of the Kennedy regime was a direct attack on the Yankees. In the search for perpetrators, most analysts understandably focused on the "Cowboy" wing of the ruling class as it existed at the time — the collection of rising, striving powers in the West and Southwest that based their wealth and influence largely on defense contracts, government construction projects, and the natural-resources industries (which rely on government "leases" and regulation).

Carl Oglesby, who developed the Yankee-Cowboy distinction for purposes of ruling-class analysis, himself charged the Cowboys with initiating the overthrow of Kennedy the Priapic. [1] As for the hard men who executed the chief conspirators' will, some analysts — notably Anthony Summers — pointed to Cuban emigres, Mob figures, and rogue agents of the CIA or shadowy military units. [2]

We need not endorse that scenario in detail to see that the architecture of action could make sense, with rebellious moguls (Cowboys) hiring alienated ground-level specialists to perform the actual wetwork. The Yankees of the day — paralleling the senior Dark Suits of our day — were extremely powerful, but they were not omnipotent. They were extremely knowledgeable, but they were not omniscient. Their hired hands, politicians such as Little John Bad Back, were also mere mortals; the purple robes of empire are never bulletproof. All of that being so, a contract such as the one that was let in Dallas presented no particular difficulty. A "junior faction" could certainly have planned it and pulled it off, presenting the senior powers with a fait accompli and a new status quo to accept and manage.

The analogy I am proposing between 9/11 and 11/22 is not perfect. As I have noted, the Bush Likudniks were not a faction of the ruling class itself. Most were mere politicians and bureaucrats (however highly placed) or free-floating Zionist intellectuals (however lavishly funded). [3] Especially in light of the fact that the 9/11 operation was more complicated than the Kennedy hit, we may wonder whether any American Likudnik cabal could have had the resources to carry it off, especially if, unlike the Cowboys of '63, they could not call on even a faction of the U.S. security organs to assist consciously and directly. But one resource that the Cowboys of '63 did not have was the services of a foreign intelligence agency trained and equipped to conduct black business not just overseas but also in the American homeland. The services of the Mossad would have proved invaluable for recruiting, manipulating, and financing the 9/11 hijackers; and no Anthony Summers could be expected to get far in penetrating to the truth of it.

As for those Likudniks in the Bush regime who were privy to the plot, their role may well have been confined to distracting the American security organs and disrupting their work. Looking back to the summer of 1972 for a useful counterfactual, let us imagine some co-conspirator giving Watergate security guard Frank Wills an extra coffee break and seeing to it that certain doors remained unlocked at just the right time. Gordon Liddy's team wouldn't have needed to know that unnamed players had cleared their way.

Now I freely admit that my conspiracy-mongering works almost as well if we confine all the decisive machinations to Bin Laden, assuming that we grant that he is indeed a cave-dwelling genius and the Dr. No of our time. After all, decades of murderous interference in the Muslim world could be laid at the door of the established American ruling class, quite independently of anything the Bush Likudniks had done: at the time the latter were only recent arrivistes. If Bin Laden were naive in his understanding of the U.S. ruling class, he may not have been able to distinguish between Dark Suit and Likudnik. And if he were more sophisticated, he may have been able to predict the interplay between Suit and Likudnik that I have proposed. In any case, as Joe Sobran has asked, "Does anyone imagine that Osama bin Laden has been disappointed by the results of the Iraq war?" ("Masterminds," Sobran's, May 2004)

To keep our list of suspects open, we need only recognize that Israel cannot have been disappointed, either. And let us not be children about this. Let us recall that some senior Bush Likudniks — Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, and David Wurmser — actually served the Israeli state in 1996 and that more recently they have been, shall we say, muted in their criticism of the politico-psychopath Ariel Sharon. Are we seriously expected to believe that such ice-cold criminals would have been crucially warmer-hearted than Bin Laden in contemplating the fate of American office-workers? [4] Indeed they would have faced the wrath of the Dark Suits had their plot been unraveled, but let's keep in mind that in the Bush Likudniks we have a band of risk-takers who make Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt look like Louis XVI.

The history-readers among us will keep in mind, too, that at any one time only a small fraction of government's scandals and deviltry is publicly known.

And after all what is government, if not a standing conspiracy against all of us?

September 12, 2005

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