Be Wary of Undue Optimism
Paul Craig Roberts
Caitlin Johnstone, one of my favorite commentators whose columns I often repost, apparently has felt some pressure from some readers for a bit of optimism. She found it in the “underlying goodness” of Americans who must be deceived into war. If Americans were really bad, she says, they would not have to be deceived and manipulated into going to war. She concludes that the fact that they are deceived and manipulated means that it is not their fault. As Caitlin puts it, “We must be vigilant in directing our anger at the manipulators and not the manipulated. It’s always the conman’s fault, never the victim.” Thus does she absolve Americans for any responsibility for the massive crimes their country has committed against other peoples. https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/06/22/the-fact-that-americans-need-to-be-deceived-into-war-proves-their-underlying-goodness/
This will go down well with most Americans as long as it only applies to the US. But what if she made this same case in behalf of the Germans during the Third Reich? She would be thoroughly denounced and demonized.
The column is not one of Caitlin’s best. It is always more comfortable to blame others than ourselves. Before writing this column, Caitlin might have benefitted from recalling the old adage: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”
What Caitlin overlooks is that there is something desperately wrong with Americans that they can be consistently fooled again, and again, and again, and yet again, and never catch on. Their gullibility is especially difficult to comprehend in face of the 21st century’s concentrated dose of deceptions—9/11, Afghanistan, Saddan Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction, Assad’s use of chemical weapons, Iranian nukes, Russian invasions, MH-17, the long list of lies about Gaddafi, the bombings of Pakistan, Maduro starving his own people–one deception rapidldy following the other and never does a doubt arise in the good Americans’ minds.
Before accusing me of being a male chauvinist for “attacking a woman,” rest assured that Caitlin can take care of herself.
Hon. Paul Craig Roberts is the John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy, Senior Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. A former editor and columnist for The Wall Street Journal and columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service, he is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicate in Los Angeles and a columnist for Investor's Business Daily. In 1992 he received the Warren Brookes Award for Excellence in Journalism. In 1993 the Forbes Media Guide ranked him as one of the top seven journalists.
He was Distinguished Fellow at the Cato Institute from 1993 to 1996. From 1982 through 1993, he held the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. During 1981-82 he served as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy. President Reagan and Treasury Secretary Regan credited him with a major role in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, and he was awarded the Treasury Department's Meritorious Service Award for "his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy." From 1975 to 1978, Dr. Roberts served on the congressional staff where he drafted the Kemp-Roth bill and played a leading role in developing bipartisan support for a supply-side economic policy.
In 1987 the French government recognized him as "the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism" and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.
Dr. Roberts' latest books are The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with IPE Fellow Lawrence Stratton, and published by Prima Publishing in May 2000, and Chile: Two Visions - The Allende-Pinochet Era, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen Araujo, and published in Spanish by Universidad Nacional Andres Bello in Santiago, Chile, in November 2000. The Capitalist Revolution in Latin America, co-authored with IPE Fellow Karen LaFollette Araujo, was published by Oxford University Press in 1997. A Spanish language edition was published by Oxford in 1999. The New Colorline: How Quotas and Privilege Destroy Democracy, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, was published by Regnery in 1995. A paperback edition was published in 1997. Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, co-authored with Karen LaFollette, was published by the Cato Institute in 1990. Harvard University Press published his book, The Supply-Side Revolution, in 1984. Widely reviewed and favorably received, the book was praised by Forbes as "a timely masterpiece that will have real impact on economic thinking in the years ahead." Dr. Roberts is the author of Alienation and the Soviet Economy, published in 1971 and republished in 1990. He is the author of Marx's Theory of Exchange, Alienation and Crisis, published in 1973 and republished in 1983. A Spanish language edition was published in 1974.
Dr. Roberts has held numerous academic appointments. He has contributed chapters to numerous books and has published many articles in journals of scholarship, including the Journal of Political Economy, Oxford Economic Papers, Journal of Law and Economics, Studies in Banking and Finance, Journal of Monetary Economics, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Choice, Classica et Mediaevalia, Ethics, Slavic Review, Soviet Studies, Rivista de Political Economica, and Zeitschrift fur Wirtschafspolitik. He has entries in the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Economics and the New Palgrave Dictionary of Money and Finance. He has contributed to Commentary, The Public Interest, The National Interest, Harper's, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Fortune, London Times, The Financial Times, TLS, The Spectator, Il Sole 24 Ore, Le Figaro, Liberation, and the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. He has testified before committees of Congress on 30 occasions.
Dr. Roberts was educated at the Georgia Institute of Technology (B.S.), the University of Virginia (Ph.D.), the University of California at Berkeley and Oxford University where he was a member of Merton College.
He is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, The Dictionary of International Biography, Outstanding People of the Twentieth Century, and 1000 Leaders of World Influence. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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