Those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
? George Santayana
On February 27, 1933, a mentally deranged Dutch Communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, lit
a few small fires in the German parliament building, the Reichstag, in Berlin ? not enough
to set the building alight, but sufficient to get him hanged as the sole perpetrator afterward.
The happenings prior to that fateful evening, and the events following it, carry some lessons
for those wanting to understand September 11, 2001, and the subsequent developments.
van der Lubbe, a petty criminal and arsonist, hated the Nazis, and had bragged about
intending to set the Reichstag on fire while having a beer in a pub. The Nazi SA, with ears
everywhere, found out, and, unbeknownst to van der Lubbe, an SA detachment entered the
building through a disused central heating tunnel. While the Dutchman was busy lighting
insignificant fires, using his shirt as tinder, the SA planted gasoline and incendiaries, and
within minutes, the Reichstag was burning out of control. Why did the Nazis do this?
At the time, Hitler had a problem. Based on the success of the Nazi party in the previous
election, Hitler had become Reichskanzler, or Prime Minister, but he lacked a majority in
both the government and the parliament. Having no intention of playing second fiddle to his
rivals, a coalition of moderate parties, he needed a decisive victory in the March 5 election.
He also was uncomfortable with the democratic process, and wanted to proceed directly to
Nazi supremacy and dictatorship.
Hitler's solution was to eliminate the Communist party and its 100 deputies, which would
give his Nazis a majority in the remaining parliament. By ensuring that van der Lubbe
succeeded in destroying the Reichstag, he could pronounce the fire a Communist
conspiracy. By the next morning he had secured the signature of the aging President, von
Hindenburg, on legislation that changed Germany from a democracy to a tyranny. The one
hundred Communist deputies were arrested, civil rights were abrogated, and the country
embraced Hitler as its Leader.
In mid 2001, the Republican government in the United States was having a problem. It was
seen as merely presiding over a recession, having accomplished nothing of significance, and
it faced an uphill battle in getting the largest peacetime defense budget increase approved in
Congress. The corporate sponsors of the Bush administration were, no doubt, getting
impatient: the stocks of the defense industry were still losing their value, and, lacking a
credible enemy, there were serious reservations in Congress against spending more on
During the weeks prior to September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists made it known that they
were going to hit some notable landmarks in America, and hit them hard. These boasts
surfaced on the Internet, much the same as van der Lubbe's bragging in the Berlin beer hall.
Much as in Germany in the '30s, help was forthcoming, and for the same reasons.
Fully aware of the threat to the nation's aviation from slipshod security in US airports, the
government did nothing to improve it; in fact, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) top
management intentionally hid reported security weaknesses.
On the morning of September 11, four large passenger jets with full fuel tanks went off
course over the US Northeast, and ceased communicating with Air Traffic Control. Flight
controllers overheard sounds of a struggle from the cockpit of one plane. Passengers made
cellular phone calls from two of the flights, reporting that the planes had been hijacked.
Normally, when something like this happens, the US Air Force, which has fighter jets ready
to intercept troubled or suspicious civilian aircraft on short notice, begins escorting the
offending plane, and, if necessary, forcing it to land, within ten minutes of being alerted by
But that day, each of the four planes was allowed to continue off-course for as long as half
an hour or more. Finally, after the first one had hit the World Trade Center in New York, a
couple of fighter jets were scrambled from Boston, which ensured that they couldn't reach
New York before the second impact.
Interestingly, in a TV interview on December 4, 2001, Laura Bush let it slip that already
back in July, the White House, knowing that the country would be in mourning at the end of
the year, had begun redesigning the 2001 Christmas cards on a more somber note than usual.
So far, the parallels with what happened in Germany in February 1933 are evident. They
become clearer still when we look at the results of the attacks. Just as in Germany in 1933,
the text of the new US legislation abrogating constitutionally guaranteed civil rights was
ready at the time of the WTC and Pentagon attacks. Unprecedentedly, the Federal laws
needed were enacted within less than a month after September 11, without significant
opposition or debate. Capitol Hill legislators barely bothered to read the bills they approved.
As a result, as if by flipping a switch, anyone suspected of terrorism in America is now
presumed guilty until proven innocent. The authorities are free to accuse anybody of being
or supporting a terrorist. Conveniently, terrorism has not been defined; however, it already
has become clear that it includes exercising one's First Amendment rights.
Likewise, the record-breaking Federal defense budget, along with an extra $20 billion for
fighting terrorism, was approved by December 8, 2001. The shares of the defense industry
began rising sharply and are rising still. Need it be added that Mr. Cheney came from a
leading position in the Carlyle Group, a large defense industry holding company, where the
Bush family has substantial interests? Need we be reminded that, already in 1998, oil giant
Unocal went to the US House of Representatives to demand a "recognized" (read
corruptible) government in Afghanistan, so it could build a natural gas pipeline through that
country and profit from the booming energy market in the Far East? Could it be that the
4,000 Afghani civilians killed by US precision bombs just happened to live along the
proposed route of that pipeline, now conveniently cleared of homes, schools, mosques, and
hospitals that used to stand in its way? We'll be watching Unocal and finding out.
Back in the thirties, Hitler proceeded to rearm Germany and attack his neighbors on
trumped-up charges of jeopardizing German interests and mistreating German minorities.
Germany became the bully of the decade and started the Second World War. Although
Germany lost the war and Hitler committed suicide, her arms industry, including the
German subsidiaries of US car giants GM and Ford, profited handsomely. The profits due to
Ford and GM were paid out after the end of the war.
Following the 9-11 attacks, President Bush readily stepped up to the challenge and declared
war on terrorism on the evening news of September 11. His battle cry "If you're not with us,
you're against us" is a round statement by a world-class bully, much like the accusations of
treason Hitler liked to level at countries that attempted to preserve their independence before
the onslaught of the supposedly invincible German war machine.
America has undergone a Fascist takeover, the beneficiaries of which are the owners of big
business. The system is rapidly being exported all over the world, and it is intended to
become permanent. To prevent citizens from getting in the way of the massive enrichment
of the already rich, and to help them accept their new position as mere consumers and
sweatshop laborers without the right to uncorrupted political representation, all objections to
the process are labeled "terrorism."
Here's a quote from Douglas Reed, writing about the loss of freedom Germans experienced
the night of the Reichstag fire.
When Germany awoke, a man's home was no longer his castle. He could be
seized by private individuals, could claim no protection from the police, could
be indefinitely detained without preferment of charges; his property could be
seized, his verbal and written communications overheard and perused; he no
longer had the right to foregather with his fellow countrymen, and his
newspapers might no longer freely express their opinions.
The Bush administration's 2001 antiterrorism legislation, introduced using a similar ruse,
effects the same changes in America, and is being copied in every country that has a popular
or ethnic opposition to deal with. It is a well proven method: Roosevelt knew about,
encouraged, and facilitated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, sending
the Pacific Fleet there to act as a target, keeping the local military commanders in the dark,
and proscribing all defensive action. He then used the public's outrage over the attack to
draw America into WW II and provide the American arms industry with its fair share in the
proceeds of that great conflict, along with its overseas competitors.
You may ask: What, if any, are the differences between Hitler and Bush? Not many, but one
stands out: Hitler was elected to his office democratically. Bush was installed against the
will of the majority of US voters, through the machinations of his brother, the Florida
Governor, and the Supreme Court judges appointed by his father. Another difference may
lie in the span of their reigns: Hitler killed himself after 12 years in office, while Bush
stands under the curse of Chief Tecumseh, and is bound to die before his term expires in