This is the second half of the transcript of my interview on 9/11/2012 with Paul Craig Roberts
thanks to Don Caldarazzo for help with the transcript
Rob Kall: [interjecting] Now you were a part of a Republican administration. Do you still consider yourself a Republican?
Paul Craig Roberts: You know it's kind of like other people have said, you know "the party left me!' [laughing] There's nothing similar between the Republican Party today and the one of Reagan. There's nothing... the fact is, there's not even any similarity between the Republican Party today and the party of George Herbert Walker Bush. It's a different party. And they're... they're different people.
Look, you may have seen that Billy Kristol, the Neocon, the Weekly Standard guy. He's actually said and bragged that "we've eliminated the George Herbert Walker Bush people from the Republican Party. They no longer have any role or influence for the Republican Party." So I mean that's... you can see that online, on video.
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Rob Kall: [interjecting] What about the Tea Party? What's your take on the Tea Party, and how it was formed, how it was funded, and where it's going and what it's role is in... what is currently the Republican Party...
Paul Craig Roberts: I don't...
Rob Kall: ...and conservatism.
Paul Craig Roberts: I don't know a whole lot about it other than it sort of originated as a bottom-up movement. It was not the sort of thing you've got hope for. And... and they were just angry people who were mad about Washington. And... but they were all mad about different things. And... and once it showed that it might be some kind of a force, what can we call them-- the controllers [laughing] - the "controllers" step in and start financing it, influencing it, manipulating it.
I don't think it really has any role anymore. And I think it's been neutered if it ever had anything, 'cause as I said it was angry people, some... all of them with justification, but the different kinds of anger were contradictory. It wasn't... To deal with that would mean worsening what the other side was angry about. So I don't think it ever had much prospect, but... the, the trouble is you see... what I'm trying to get on about Obama and Romney is that, I don't think the Democrats are motivated like the narrow band of Republicans that have taken over are.
And motivation sometimes determines everything. See I'm reading a book about the Roman Revolution, that is the loss of the Republic and the rise of the dictatorship. And Octavian was completely outnumbered. They could have destroyed him easily, without two bits of effort, but the opponents to Caesarism all had divided council, and so Octavian, who didn't have a chance in hell... by being determined, succeeded in establishing the dictatorship. So that's what worries me about Romney and Ryan. I don't really think the policies of the Government will be all that different between Romney and Obama, but I think the Democrats aren't as mean spirited and would be less likely to do as much damage to the social safety net, and would not go into wars with the same relish. It might think twice before coming into confrontation with Russia and China, though Hilary Clinton doesn't show much [laughing] hesitation. But they wouldn't-- I don't think they would-- pursue it with the same kind of fanaticism.
Rob Kall: Do you consider Hilary a Neocon?
Paul Craig Roberts: Essentially, yeah. Yeah. She's a Neocon. The... but they in a way... The...
Rob Kall: [interjecting] In what way?
Rob Kall: I just want to follow it up with one thing you said.
Paul Craig Roberts: Yeah.
Rob Kall: You talked about the history of Rome and how it became the dictatorship.
Paul Craig Roberts: Yeah.
Rob Kall: Now do you see that happening here in the United States?
Paul Craig Roberts: Oh yeah, sure.
Rob Kall: Or has it already?
Paul Craig Roberts: It's already. It's just not being exercised that way. But the President here... look what... what did the Bush people establish, that the President during wartime is not subject to law of the Constitution. I mean this is clear. This is what they established. This is how... you know they used war, the war on terror to negate the Constitution, to get rid of all the protections like Habeas Corpus, due process. They used it to get rid of the fact that Bush committed felonies by torturing people. He committed felonies by violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and spying on Americans without warrants. They committed war crimes by launching naked aggression based on lies. That's exactly what they convicted the Germans of after World War II. Do you remember Hitler? He said "last night the
Polish Army crossed the frontier and attacked Germany?" Well, that's the same kind of lie that Bush and Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice told. "Oh, he's got weapons of mass destruction! There will be mushroom clouds over American cities." They knew that was a lie, just like Hitler knew the Polish Army hadn't crossed the frontier.
So all of this was done based on the" on the Republican argument, that they have a lawyers' group called the "Federalist Society," and it created this doctrine of the Unitarian Executive. And the Unitarian Executive is essentially a Caesar. He's unaccountable. You know, he's higher than Congress, higher than the Courts. He's not accountable to law, or the Constitution. He's simply does... issues edicts. And then... and we've seen with Bush the rise of more and more of these edicts, like signing statements by the President, but no such authority exists anywhere. Well, Congress passes the law, and the President signs it and says "but I'm negating this provision, and this provision, and this provision." There's no... this is totally illegal. But they've claimed that, "oh well, the President has his powers!" It... there's no evidence in the Constitution or in law of these powers. So it is a takeover, just like the destruction of the Roman Republic. All of a sudden...
Rob Kall: Now you... you've been a... you've been in the political world. You were an appointee of Ronald Reagan. I think that in some ways Obama and a lot of the Democrats are to the right of Reagan. Certainly to the right of Eisenhower.
Paul Craig Roberts: Oh yeah, sure. Well... I'm not sure exactly about being to the right. I know what you're saying. They're far more authoritarian, right? And they don't respect the Constitution. And they... they're power mad. They don't think there should be any constraint on their power. Now we didn't... nobody in the Reagan administration thought that. But you know when the Iran-Contra thing came to light, it was, Ed Meese, the Attorney General went on national television and said "this is what we've found out. These people in the... low down in the administration are doing this. We're investigating..." Then Reagan, later, after all this and [he] announced: "they're all fired!" He fired all of them. And some of them were indicted, like Eliott Abrams was indicted... and sentenced. He was later pardoned, I think by George Herbert Walker Bush. But people were held accountable.
And... so there's no comparability, you're right. I mean it... the authoritarianism of the Government in Washington, gets worse no matter who is in there. But there's been a huge break. I think the last sort of almost trustworthy government was George Herbert Walker Bush. They didn't make these kinds of claims. I mean they, you know a lot of things that we can say about them and all of that, but they didn't say that "I'm the President, I can kill people if I want to. All I have to do is say I suspect them of some terrorist activity!" "I can throw you in the dungeon the rest of your life, and I don't have to provide any evidence to anybody." "I can spy on you. I don't have to obey the law." "I can go to war because I'm the Commander-in-Chief. I don't even have to tell Congress." I think if Reagan or George Herbert Walker Bush had said anything like that, they would have been impeached on the spot. And yet now we accept these things, only what, two Presidents later [laughing]. George W. Bush by then, we accept these things as if well, that's just ordinary.
Rob Kall : And it's even worse since Bush now. And, why do you think that is? What has happened in America that is...
Paul Craig Roberts: It's 9/11.
Rob Kall: ...radical changes in the peoples' tolerance...
Paul Craig Roberts: [interjecting] 9/11!
Rob Kall: ...have come to that?
Paul Craig Roberts: 9/11! It's just like you know, what was the Nazi Propagandist that was Goering or Goebbels...
Rob Kall: Goebbels
Paul Craig Roberts: Which one? [affirmed by Scripps Howard in background] He said, "all you have to do is tell the people they're being attacked and create the fear, and you can do whatever you want." And that's what happened, they... You know, 9/11, whoever's behind it, the result's the same. The Government got unlimited power. And but when you get it, it doesn't mean you can just quickly spring it on everybody because then that startles them and shocks. And so you release it a little at a time. And you get them used to it a little at a time, and then that way you never meet any opposition, because, whereas as if you just all of a sudden said "okay, I'm a dictator. All you peons now are under my thumb!" That would just shock everybody, and everything would be turmoil. And outside the world would get upset, and we would no longer be able to rely on the NATO allies to say, "look, look it's Hitler again!" And so they get the power, but it just... they let it eke out, and everybody accepts each little bit each time.
Rob Kall: It's almost like they say "we're going to do this to bring you more freedom!"
Paul Craig Roberts: Yeah.
Rob Kall: And then they take away more.
Paul Craig Roberts: Yeah. Or "to make you safe, we're going to..." They do this to make you safe. See the... like we said earlier about the internet, what their argument is, is that "we need to do this to protect the internet." So what protecting the internet means, it's Orwellian. It means "we take away it's independence." "Because if it has it's independence, then bad information might get out!' So... and people just... They... you know to keep liberty is a task. You have to be schooled to it. And Americans aren't.
Rob Kall: Hey Paul, you've got to have some hope. Where... what gives you some hope, somewhere?
Paul Craig Roberts: Well, I don't really know. Well, I think what happens is, is the country, Washington will over reach like Hitler did when he marched into Russia, or Napoleon did when he marched into Russia. If they hadn't done that, they'd still be there. People overreach. They get carried away with hubris and arrogance, and they, think they're more powerful and potent then they are, and they get into a situation that's out of control and they lose. They... so I... you know, we'll either get face down in some major confrontation by Russia and China, or the rest of the world will ditch the dollar and we'll be busted into a third world thing overnight. It's just...
Rob Kall: I kind of think the same way.
Paul Craig Roberts: Yes?
Rob Kall: I, I think the same way. That... that what we saw... what happened in Argentina was the government shut down the banks, and the people didn't stand for that. I think that somehow the... to get people out of the "boiling frog syndrome" that we're currently in, some, some of the leaders have to make some kind of a mistake that goes too far.
Paul Craig Roberts: Yeah. It's usually hubris and arrogance, and they overreach. And then that just breaks the power, and, so I think, in other words I don't think the United States has the financial or military, or intellectual power to... establish hegemony over the world. I just don't think they can do it. And I think the rest of the world's are, or a lot of the rest of the world's already organizing against us. So, I think that that's... but in the meantime we will have lost our economic standing, Americans will be a lot poorer. We won't be welcomed abroad. We... we're sort of become a pariah country. And, so there are going to be costs.
But still it may mean it may save us from this arbitrary police state, where they can just come along, pick you up if they want to. Maybe they want your car, maybe they want your girlfriend or your wife, or they want your house, or your son pissed them off or... that's how power usually gets used. It's because of these kinds of reasons.
Rob Kall: It's almost like when... but what Sinclair Lewis describes... All the things you just said, Sinclair Lewis described in the book, "It Can't Happen Here!" A book that I think every listener to this interview should read.
Paul Craig Roberts: Yeah. I agree with you, yeah. It should... you're exactly right. They should.
Rob Kall: Well look, we're going to have to wrap in a minute. But another topic I want to talk about is Iran. And Israel.
What's your take on what's happening there? Is Iran a threat? Is a nuclear Iran a threat? Will Iran attack Israel?
Paul Craig Roberts: No. Of course not. No. Iran... Iran has not made... all the threats are coming from Israel, not from Iran. The threats are from Israel, and they're trying to, they've been trying to bully Obama into supporting them. And what's it about is very simple. It's just about the aggrandizement of the Israeli state. They want, or they need, or think they need... They certainly want the water resources in Southern Lebanon. They tried twice to get them, and both times were expelled by Hezbollah. Well Hezbollah is supported by Syria and Iran. And so Syria and Iran are on the "knock off" list.
Rob Kall: What's your take on Syria? And the US and NATO...
Paul Craig Roberts: Okay.
Rob Kall: ...and the story that is narrated...
Paul Craig Roberts: Alright. That was organized by the CIA. There's no internal rebellion. It's all outside people brought in, which is kind of like what they did in Libya. Libya was a test case. And this time though when Washington went to get the UN resolution to allow them to establish the "No Fly" zone that they could then use for aggression from the air to back up the rebels, that's what they did. Libya was illegal.
But this time the Chinese and Russians didn't fall for it, and they blocked it. So it left the Americans without a way of carrying forward. They had launched these outsiders. Curiously, Al Qaeda, who we've supposed to been fighting for eleven years [laughing], we're now funding to overthrow Assad in Syria. And so these fighters are there, but they didn't get the Western military support they were counting on, and so they haven't been able to overthrow the Syrian government. And the Americans can't figure out whether they dare to attack the country without any cover. And they've tried floating the trial balloon, that well, they don't really need a UN resolution. They can get NATO to approve it, or they can get the EU to approve it. In other words... [laughing]
And so... and the Russians keep saying "No, No, No, No"' And the Russians keep saying, "you know" you know we have to be careful, there could be nuclear war." And so I don't know what the actual outcome will be. I suspect that the CIA will pull off some kind of atrocity, blame Russia, China and Assad [laughing]. And somehow get media acceptance to go in throw in a more powerful military force then the imported Islamists. But what the real policy is, is to break up these countries and leave them in turmoil with warring factions like Libya today.
There's no government in Libya. The tribes are still killing each other. Same in Iraq. The violence in Iraq now is higher than it ever was during the so called Iraqi war. If you look at antiwar.com
, almost every day they report of scores of people killed or blown up. So what you... what Washington learned is, that trying to defeat and occupy these countries was impossible, but we can leave them at each other's throats. And we do that by destroying the secular government. You see. Iraq had a secular government. Syria has a secular government. Libya had a secular government. So we go in and destroy them, and then all the different Islamist sects fight each other from then on, and these countries are no longer, unified, they're not capable of getting in our way. So that's essentially what the policy is.
Rob Kall: ...Getting in our way, keeping them... keeping us from doing what?
Paul Craig Roberts: Keeping us from dominating the area. Keeping Israel from overrunning Southern Lebanon or you know making us... getting rid of, you know, giving us the power to cut China off from Middle East energy, which was one of the reasons we overthrew Libya. China had massive oil investments in Eastern Libya, they're gone. China has large oil investments in Iran. That's why we're rebuilding all those bases in the South China Sea, to block the sea access. It's like what we did to Japan in the '30's. You know we denied energy and raw materials to Japan, and then we got surprised when we got attacked at Pearl Harbor.
So it's, if you have the policy of hegemony, supremacy over the world, which is what the Roman Empire had, then you just get rid of anybody that could possibly be in the way. Or that's not a puppet. And the problem with Assad, and Saddam Hussein, and Iran, is they're not puppets. They don't want to be. And so we demonize, "oh you're not going to be our puppet, we'll teach you a lesson!" So that's what the game is, it's not anything about establishing democracy or Women's Rights.
Rob Kall: We have to wrap this up.
Paul Craig Roberts: Okay.
Rob Kall: Anything you want to finish up with saying?
Paul Craig Roberts: I just think that Americans need to be much more realistic and much more hard headed, and give up their illusions about their government. There's nothing good or noble or moral about their government any more than any other government. In fact theirs may be the worst of all, because it's infected with this hubris of superiority over other people.
Rob Kall: Okay. Thanks Paul.