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Three symbolic harbingers of financial collapse

Jerry Kroth

Most of us look at symbolism as nothing more than flounce ornamenting an event. 9/11,
for example, was an egregious act of terrorism, a deep
traumatic moment for Americans, and a wound on the
American psyche, but we don’t give more than a passing
glance to its symbolism.1 But it is at least curious that
American flight 11 crashed into the twin towers on
September 11, that that the towers looked like the number
11, that construction of the Pentagon began on September
11, 1941 or even that 11 Israeli athletes were executed by
terrorists on September 11, 1972. Such coincidences, or
synchronicities, involving unlucky 11 we generally shrug
off, but many of us at least take note that 9-1-1 is the
number one calls in an emergency, and this event clearly
represented a genuine national emergency. Beyond that we don’t attach much gravitas to
synchronicities beyond an initial “Hmm, isn’t that interesting!”

Two other symbolic events also strafed the landscape of the Bush presidency and, like
9/11, both fell out of the sky.

In February of 2003, just weeks before we invaded Iraq, Americans tragically witnessed
the crash of the space shuttle. The name “Columbia” derives from Christopher Columbus
and was chosen by NASA to be a symbol of the American nation. The crash occurred on
the first day of the Chinese New Year, a foreboding omen in
the East. And most CNN live coverage originated from
“Palestine,” Texas. Sacrificed in this tragedy was the first-
ever Israeli astronaut whose cachet was that he flew an
aircraft that bombed Iraq’s nuclear facilities back in 1981.

The symbolic anomalies mount up.2 Less than a month

before we go off to on a pre-emptive war to stop Iraq from Crash of Columbia
developing nuclear weapons, we note that inside the belly of
Columbia is an Israeli who engaged in the same pre-emptive attack twenty years earlier.
On an ominous Chinese holiday a simulacrum of America falls out of the sky sounding
an alarm and carrying messages in her hold that concern preemptive war, Iraq, nuclear
weapons, even the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . an eerie symbolic cargo indeed!

Few Americans know that the Israeli lobby in Washington, AIPAC, has been an
aggressive advocate of war with Iraq from the very beginning.3 Aided and abetted by
insiders Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Pearle, the war in Iraq has claimed
between 36-77,000 Iraqi lives─some professorial types allege as many 600,000─and it
has blinded, maimed, and wounded upwards of 500,000 Iraqi citizens. Close to 3,000 US
soldiers have been killed with 18,000 wounded at this writing.4 This American-initiated
carnage, was predicated upon misrepresented, false, perhaps even fraudulent intelligence,
and sought to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in a country which did not have any
and which never posed any overt threat to the United States.

Some 52 percent of Americans currently feel that the US is in greater danger from
terrorism today than before we invaded Iraq. 5 This causes one to wonder if AIPAC,
Wolfowitz, and Pearle agitated so aggressively for this war more to defend American
interests or Israeli. Both gentlemen were incessant, even obsessed, with the vaporous
Iraqi nuclear threat but doltishly mute on what experts say is Israel’s secret stockpile of
over 200 nuclear weapons, including a hydrogen bomb.6

In 2005, 82% of Iraqis were “strongly opposed” to a continued US presence,7 and 59%
of Americans wanted our troops to leave as soon as possible. 8 In 2006 those positions
still hold with a majority of Iraqis wanting the US to leave now!9 Some 62% of
Americans believe our getting involved in Iraq in the first place was a mistake.10 But
when Congress was presented with a resolution to remove U.S. troops, fewer than 1% of
its members voted for it,11 a clear sign that AIPAC, Christian extremists, and Halliburton-
type special interests have gained such access and influence as to nullify the democratic
will of the majority of Americans and Iraqis.

Recall that the crash of Columbia was caused by a damaged and weakened undercarriage.
Down here on earth—and on the other side of this metaphor─ there are numerous fissures
in the underbelly of the Bush administration: Kofi Anan called the invasion of Iraq a
crime and a violation of the UN Charter. A Belgian international tribunal is considering
charging Bush, Rice, Wolfowitz and others as war criminals. The EU is livid over
America’s secret prisons and the transport and torture of citizens within its territory, clear
violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.12 13 And revelations about
presidential domestic spying on US citizens without court orders14 has persuaded legal
scholars to announce that Bush has admitted to an “impeachable offense.” 15 Bush’s
popularity is at an all-time low with 62% disapproving of how he is handling the job as
president, and almost a majority of Republicans feeling the same way (about 47%), while
a whopping 75% disapprove of how he is handling the war in Iraq as we near the end of

The situation on the ground is dire and rapidly devolving into civil war, with over a
million Iraqis leaving the country as refugees along with a third of the entire professional
class. Over a hundred lecturers at Baghdad University alone have been murdered, mostly
for teaching women.17 But these Iraqi-related issues are mere perforations and pockmarks
compared to the gaping hole in the underbelly of the nation caused by the financial
bludgeoning it has endured under the Bush administration.

The US has spent over half a trillion dollars on Afghanistan and Iraq already18 and is
hemorrhaging with expenditures of over $2 billion each week in Iraq alone19. . . which
leads us to consider our third symbolic event. . .
A month after Bush’s second term
began, a plane painted REELECT
BUSH crashed into the Florida
everglades. The photograph captures a
palpable sense of helplessness,
engulfment, and sinking 20. . . our third
symbolic omen.

In his private life George Bush

presided over numerous failed
business ventures 21and, as president,
he may be leading the nation to a level of insolvency which makes all his earlier failures
pale by comparison. The ship of state is taking on so much debt, so rapidly, economists
from every political hue warn that it cannot handle such a load without sinking.

One out of every three dollars the federal government spent in 2006 was paid for by
borrowing, the highest level for any administration since World War II. With
characteristic Bush insouciance, the $550 billion President Clinton accumulated was
immediately repatriated to the wealthy with a generous
$630 billion tax cut going to the richest 1% of
600 America’s wage earners.22 In the blink of an eye─or
400 should we say “wink”─Clinton’s four-year surplus was
200 transformed into a $1.4 trillion deficit, the largest in
0 American history, which one commentator says
“represents the most rapid, predatory looting of public
wealth in the history of the world.”23
The United States accounts for half of all military
-1200 spending on earth. With troops stationed in over 119
-1400 countries 24─all ostensibly fighting for freedom rather
than any whiff of imperial hegemony25─we spend more
Clinton’s four year $550 billion on defense than Russia, China, Japan, Britain, France,
surplus vs. Bush $1.4 trillion and Germany combined. 26 If we add onto these
deficit enormous outlays America’s list of unfunded liabilities,
military and civil service pensions, the prospect of 70
million baby boomers retiring, a third with no retirement savings at all,27 we can more
fully appreciate Mr. Greenspan’s astringent parting words that Bush’s profligate deficit
spending spells potential disaster for the nation.

The United States is going into debt at the rate of some $1.6 billion per day─gasp if you
will─but the federal deficit is only half the problem. This deficit has an ugly twin, the
trade deficit, which this year will reach 866 billion (amounting to another $2 billion
borrowed per day).28 Foreign central banks now hold 40% of total U.S. government debt.
Japan has a $1 trillion supply of dollars. China recently reached the $1 trillion
benchmark itself, and South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, and India together hold close to that
as well. Foreigners currently own, or are owed, $10 trillion in U.S. assets. 30 As Pat
Buchanan opines, “the most self sufficient nation in history, which produced 96 percent
of all that it consumed, now depends on foreigners for a fourth of its steel, half its autos
and machine tools, two-thirds of its textiles and apparel, and most of its cameras,
bicycles, motorcycles, shoes, TVs videotape machines, (and) radios.31” The United
States is awash in debt and gasping for air.

Like the twin towers, the twin deficits intimate that we are living beyond our means to
the tune of over a trillion dollars per year! No one knows when the world will say,
“enough,” but just the whiff of a “dollar sell-off could create panic in the markets and
lead to a global financial meltdown.”32

“If somebody starts selling his dollar reserves, even if it's only a portion
of his dollar portfolio, other countries could be forced into panic selling
of their huge dollar reserves. The foreign-exchange markets are the
biggest and most liquid in the world, but whether they would be able to
absorb the amount of selling that could emerge from portfolio adjustments
this large is a very open question.” 33

The collapse of the twin towers, the crash of Columbia with Israel’s first astronaut
aboard, and the sinking of the Bush reelection plane represent symbolic graffiti scribbled
on the walls of our collective consciousness. All three symbolic moments italicize
“implosion,” “crash,” “collapse, “sinking,” Do such symbols and synchronicities merely
syncopate with modern life, and should we look at them as nothing more than curious
filigree garnering our daily lives, or are they more structural than that? Are they oracles
or ‘leading indicators’ arising from the collective unconscious which point to a reality yet
to unfold? In other words are our deepening involvement in the Middle East, the
relentless pressures of the Israeli lobby (to increase troops in Iraq and even bomb Iran34),
plus the inscrutable doctrine of preemptive war sucking the US into a financial black
hole? Are these symbolic “crashes,” in other words, the foretaste of a real crash?

As this is written, markets are doing well. The Dow has reached an all-time high. Bullish
sentiment outscores bearish by a hefty margin. Panglossian financial commentators
reassure us that the stock market outlook for 2007 will be boasting a predicted gain of
about 8%,35 and we probably ought to fold up our analytic couches and conclude there is
no basis for Jungian symbolism to interfere with our investment plans.36

Unfortunately a phalanx of heavy weights and paragons realism have stepped into the
ring on this one. Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Peter Peterson, says we are on
a path of ‘economic meltdown.’37 Warren Buffet echoes the same warning. Clyde
Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute, warns of financial chaos so
severe it would “make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a walk in the park.” 38
Robert Freeman believes we are in the beginning phase of a “deficit death spiral.” Former
Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin forewarns of a day of reckoning, and ex-Fed chairman
Paul Volker estimates the odds of a financial crisis at 75%.
Lesser-known pundits have also stepped up to the plate one predicting a collapse of the
Dow to 6000, 39 while disconsolate bear, Robert Prechter, sees an all-out depression by
November, 2007.40

So perhaps these symbolic events are not just frivolous symbolic outcroppings which
ornament the landscape of our awareness, but harbingers of a reality looming large. With
the REELECT BUSH plane crashing in Jeb Bush’s home state of Florida, and the debris
from the Columbia falling a hundred and fifty miles from brother George’s home and
hearth in Crawford, Texas, these omens from the sky mysteriously co-mingle themselves
with the Bush presidency itself. So if “crash” and “collapse” are appropriate words for
America’s day of reckoning, we should be placing that 9-1-1 call sometime prior to Jan.
19, 2009, the official endpoint of the ominous Bush presidency.

We have a choice, it seems: either to castigate ourselves for reading symbolic tea leaves
capriciously and transforming ourselves into timorous Cassandras or to see in these
symbolic omens a very real and present danger for the nation. If we choose the former
alternative, investment advisor, Abby Joseph Cohen, has a few stocks she’d like to tell us
about, and if we choose the latter, we might consider taking refuge in the precious metals
which, even at the bottom of a Florida swamp, never seem to lose their luster.


Jerry Kroth, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology in California and a member of the

International Psychohistorical Association. His most recent work is Conspiracy in
Camelot: the complete history of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, New
York: Algora Publishers, 2003. Dr. Kroth may be contacted at

Photo courtesy of National Park Service
Photo source for Columbia crash is
An interesting and controversial article on AIPAC’s influence on US policy if given by two professors,
John Mearshimer and Stepen Walt, “The Israel Lobby,” London Review of Books, March 23, 2006.
President Jimmy Carter’s recently released book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid.similarly emphasizes the
little known connection between the Iraq war and the Israeli lobby’s overwhelmingly disproportionate
influence on Congress and the Senate.
From and Paul Craig Roberts, “A catastrophe calculator.” At In the latter
publication, the ratio of killed to wounded is 7.6; if this ratio is applied to the estimated 70,000 Iraqis killed,
it implies over 500,000 wounded.
Poll, cited at http:
“Poll Bush ratings hit new low.” CBS News Polls, Oct. 6, 2005.
Amy Paley, "Most Iraqis want US to leave now." Sept 27, 2006, San Francisco Chronicle.
Vote of 403 to 3 against amendment forwarded by John Murtha, D-PA.
Gallup poll, August 3, 2006
CNN poll; October 12, 2006.
Warren Strobel and Johnathan Landay. “US spy agency may not shake sullied image,” Miami Herald,
International Edition, Dec. 24, 2005.
Susan Page. “Skepticism trails Bush’s defense of domestic spying.” USA today, Dec 20, 2005.
Washington Post poll; Dec 2006; source= See also Ellen
Goodman, “Stay or leave? Ask the Irais” Miami Herald Dec. 18, 2006, p. 9A.
Simon Jenkins. “America is finally waking up to its horrific failure in Iraq.”The Guardian, Oct. 18, 2006,
p. 33.
Drew Brown, “Costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could reach $549 billion, McClatchy
Newspapers, Sept. 27, 2006
For comparison, the cost of insuring all of Americas 40 million uninsured in roughly 1/4the cost of what
has been spent on Afghanistan and Iraq. See “Managed Care Matters, Joseph Paduda,
Source of photo
Arbusto, Spectrum & Harken energy failures are discussed in Kevin Phillips, American Dynasty:
Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush. New York: Viking books 2004.
Robert Freeman The Bush budget deficit death spiral,” Common Dreams, Oct 22, 2004. Curiously the
absolute wealth of the richest 1% has soared under the Bush administration. Currently 400 of America’s
wealthiest individuals have a combined wealth of $1.25 trillion which is as much as the wealth of 57
million American households. Source: Holly Sklar, “In today’s America, wealth flows to the rich.” San
Jose Mercury News, Sept. 28, 2006, p. 19A.
Robert Freeman Ibid. See also “Marilyn Geewax, “Tax revenue growth whittles federal deficit to $248
billion.” San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 12, 2006, pA3
The U.S. Global Empire, Laurence M. Vance. Laurence M. Vance Archives
See Noam Chomsky Hegemony or Survival : America's Quest for Global Dominance
New York: Penguin 2004
USNWR, June 28, 2004.
Peter Peterson, Running on empty. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2004..
Martin Crutsinger, Associate Press, “Trade deficit soars to a record.” Miami Herald, Dec. 19, 2006, p.
Robert Freeman, Ibid.
Peter Peterson. Ibid.
Pat Buchanan. “Globalism is sending GM to its grave.” San Jose Mercury News, August, 2005
James and Marianna Quenemoen,, Global Policy Forum, August, 2003
Julian Delasantis "US living on borrowed time and money" Asia Times, Mar 24, 2006
Patrick Seale, “Pressures Mount on Bush to Bomb Iran,” Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
Nov. 2006, pp. 10-11. Note that in Dec, 2006 and in sharp contrast to AIPAC, only 14% of Americans
favor increasing troop strength in Iraq.
Barrons, Dec 9, 2006
Barrons, Dec 9, 2006
Peter Peterson.Ibid., Bookjacket.
“Expert warns of economic 9/11 for U.S.”
Susan Witty. “How to make money in a bubblequake.” Barrons, Nov. 2006.
Peter Peterson, Ibid. p. 93. Elliot wave theorist, Robert Prechter calls for a severe financial crash
sometime before November, 2007 which could bring the Dow down to 6000. See “Prechter trends towards
Yelnic view, then predicts crash.” Planet Yelnick, Wednesday, March 22, 2006; see Wed March 22, 2006. I queried Prechter
about this prediction, in order to confirm the source, and Prechter replied “Yes, I have expected the stock
and housing manias to resolve in a crash. House prices appear to have peaked in the summer of 2005. I
expect the stock market will join in (re-join, in real terms) the decline before 2007 is out regardless of how
high it goes in the interim.