Sell-off at 11:17
Jude Wanniski
September 20, 2001


Today's nosedive at 11:17 can't be traced to a Bloomberg, Reuters or Dow report, which had no eventful stories at 11:17 when the dive began. The French wire, AFX, did begin flashing reports at 11:13 EST that American and British warplanes were bombing southern Iraq. The other wires caught up at noon. The Rumsfeld Pentagon so far has been contained in its eagerness to go to war with the Islamic world by Secretary of State Colin Powell's dominance in the internal White House debate. But Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who would prefer that we go to war in Iraq rather than bother with Afghanistan anyway, can still pull the trigger in ordering air strikes in Iraq. Under Prime Minister Tony Blair, a Wolfowitz trigger brings in the automatic support of the UK military. Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, the chairman of the Defense Policy Board and the mastermind behind the Pentagon hawks, know such provocations at a time when the Islamic world is trying to work out a disposition of Osama bin Laden will lead to a heightened level of distrust and force a military "solution."

President Bush will speak to the nation tonight at 9 EST, and the early report is that he will ask for patience in defining the enemy. Be prepared for a Perle/Wolfowitz propaganda campaign to persuade the political establishment that there is a bigger fish than bin Laden in Iraq, and that we should carpet bomb Iraq and send in commandoes to take out Saddam Hussein. Note the WSJ editorial page, which follows the exact line it gets from Perle, as it did from Perle's father-in-law Albert Wohlstetter when I was on the page. This morning it twits Powell and Cheney for having stopped Desert Storm from going into Baghdad. The Journal has never considered the consequences of breaking our word to the Islamic world in doing that. It simply runs what Perle tells it to run.

The financial markets are still holding up fairly well, given the worst-case scenario that commerce would come to a complete halt if we are faced with a jihad provoked by the Perle network, which he inherited from Wohlstetter at his death. Perle's latest propaganda ploy is to have one of his pals in Israeli military intelligence leak word to Jane's military reporting service in London that Iraq pulled the strings on Sept.11. Some of you say you are getting the report e-mailed to you, and at least are noting how thin it seems. If there were formal charges out of Shin Bet, the Israeli counter-intelligence agency, we would have to take them seriously. Shin Bet was the agency that last month absolved Arafat from complicity in the terrorist attacks against Israel, while Ariel Sharon still calls Arafat the Palestinian bin Laden. If Bush decides to overrule Colin Powell and pull the trigger without a coalition, no tax cuts, spending or monetary policy change would save the global economy from a Depression, surely surpassing anything we saw in the 1930's. Imagine just one repetition of Sept. 11, with more and smaller targets, and you can project for yourself. A crisis like this, on the other hand, could find a positive resolution that would resolve the Mideast struggle and produce a century without conflict. If you have any way of weighing in with the good guys, please do so.

PS. Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam will be on the Evans&Novak show Saturday at 5:30 EST. He is now clearly the most important Muslim in the world, welcome in both Kabul and Baghdad. A transcript of his speech, which you will find pleasantly surprising, we found it at, which I believe is the most important black website anywhere. Bookmark it. I've long ago ruled out any possibility that the Arab/Israeli conflict could be resolved by secular leaders. They could resolve the secular issues, but religious leaders would have to find common ground. Farrakhan is key to peace in the Middle East.