In his First Inaugural Address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt rallied strength from a dispirited nation. In words that still resonate, he said: “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Blaming the nation’s plight on uninspired financiers, Roosevelt charged: “They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.”
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," President Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933
Like those rebuked by Roosevelt, America’s ruling elite lacks strategic vision. For years, they have been mired in the contradictions and confusion of a predictable political defeat in Iraq, seemingly unable to extricate themselves. Yet, since 9/11, President Bush chose to ignore the example set by Roosevelt’s appeal to a national spirit of optimism. He even disregarded his summons to the practical wisdom of the American people. Instead, Bush committed the nation to an apocalyptic course, one predicated on the passion of fear.
Seeking to assert White House control and dominance over the post 9/11 scene, Bush elevated the politics of fear to an art form. Then he used fear as an instrument of deception to initiate the war against Iraq, falsely claiming it to be the central front in the war on terrorism. Next he used both wars interchangeably as a political stratagem to render ineffective the nation’s political discourse and it’s constitutional checks and balances. Finally, he used fear to encourage torture and marginalize civil liberties.