I did warn you

From the New York Times:

It is only now, nearly five years after Sept. 11, that the full picture of the Bush administration’s response to the terror attacks is becoming clear. Much of it, we can see now, had far less to do with fighting Osama bin Laden than with expanding presidential power.

Over and over again, the same pattern emerges: Given a choice between following the rules or carving out some unprecedented executive power, the White House always shrugged off the legal constraints. Even when the only challenge was to get required approval from an ever-cooperative Congress, the president and his staff preferred to go it alone. While no one questions the determination of the White House to fight terrorism, the methods this administration has used to do it have been shaped by another, perverse determination: never to consult, never to ask and always to fight against any constraint on the executive branch.

Let’s just say I’m not particularly surprised. Three Monkey Republicans and National Security Democrats can repeat the “we are at war” and “The Islamic jihad will stop at nothing” mantras all they like, but this has never been about terrorism. Terrorism is simply the vehicle by which central government expansion is accomplished.

The idea that a powerful central government is required to defeat Islam is absurd. Islam has been trounced before, repeatedly, by leaders with less authority than your average city mayor and by generals with fewer men in arms than the chief of the NYPD.

But then, I’m not surprised that people fall for the imminent danger lie either. As I’ve written before, that old chestnut was already a classic when Marius was using it to tighten his grasp on Rome. The fact that the danger is real – Rome was in more genuine danger from the Cimbri and Teutoni at that time than the USA is from Iran and Saudi Arabia now – doesn’t change the fact that after the danger was defeated, Marius demonstrated that power, not protection, was his genuine object.