When the September 11 attacks hit, the White House was packed with Friedman's disciples, including his close friend Donald Rumsfeld. The Bush team seized the moment of collective vertigo with chilling speed—not,as some have claimed, because the administration deviously plotted the cri sis but because the key figures of the administration, veterans of earlier disas ter capitalism experiments in Latin America and Eastern Europe, were part of a movement that prays for crisis the way drought-struck farmers pray for rain, and the way Christian-Zionist end-timers pray for the Rapture. When the long-awaited disaster strikes, they know instantly that their moment has come at last.
For three decades, Friedman and his followers had methodically exploited moments of shock in other countries—foreign equivalents of 9/11, starting with Pinochet's coup on September 11, 1973. What happened on September 11, 2001, is that an ideology hatched in American universities and fortified in Washington institutions finally had its chance to come home.
The Bush administration immediately seized upon the fear generated by the attacks not only to launch the "War on Terror" but to ensure that it is an almost completely for-profit venture, a booming new industry that has breathed new life into the faltering U.S. economy. Best understood as a "dis aster capitalism complex," it has much farther-reaching tentacles than the military-industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned against at the end of his presidency: this is global war fought on every level by private com panies whose involvement is paid for with public money, with the unending mandate of protecting the United States homeland in perpetuity while elim inating all "evil" abroad. In only a few short years, the complex has already expanded its market reach from fighting terrorism to international peace keeping, to municipal policing, to responding to increasingly frequent natu ral disasters. The ultimate goal for the corporations at the center of the complex is to bring the model of for-profit government, which advances so rapidly in extraordinary circumstances, into the ordinary