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14 December 2007


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Clifford Kiracofe

1. I would suggest that an analysis of the work of the Paris based Russian intellectual Alexandre Kojeve and his relationship to Strauss and Straussianism is important in the context of this thread. This is particularly true if delving into the "esoteric" realm of Neoconservative ideology and method/praxis. At one level, they are Nietzschean.

Allen Bloom was trained by Kojeve in Paris at Strauss's suggestion. Wolfie is a Bloom student.

See, Shadia Drury, "Alexandre Kojeve. The Roots of Postmodern Politics"(New York: St. Martin's 1994).

See Kojeve's "The Emperor Julian and his Art of Writing" in Ancients and Moderns: Essays on the Tradition of Political Philosophy in Honor or Leo Strauss, ed. Joseph Cropsey (New York: Basic Books, 1964), pp. 95-113.

2. On Kent and NIE's, there is a useful book:

Donald P. Stuery, Sherman Kent and the Board of National Estimates. Collected Essays (Washington DC: Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1994).

Clifford Kiracofe

The influence of Albert Wohlstetter on the Neocons is also an important factor.

“But Wohlstetter, through his command of detail, particularly quantitative detail, and his ability to weave elaborate numerical models out of arcane pieces of information, had changed the language of strategy. Earlier thinking had been built on an assessment of the enemy's intentions and capabilities. It relied on secret intelligence and scholarly analysis of communist ideology, Russian nationalism, and "Kremlinology"--detailed expertise on Moscow's palace intrigues.
Wohlstetter's methodology, on the other hand, relied largely on probabilistic reasoning and mathematical modeling that utilized systems analysis and game theory, signature methodologies developed at Rand. The designs or intentions of the enemy were presumed, or presented as a future possibility. This methodology exploited to the hilt the iron law of zero margin of error that was the asymptotic ideal for nuclear strategy. Even a small probability of vulnerability, or a potential future vulnerability, could be presented as a virtual state of national emergency [emphasis added].”
from Khurram Hussein, "Neocons: The Men Behind the Curtain" Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists v.59, n.6 Nov/Dec03



your question is outside the scope of the discussion for an extended answer. Many American are still unaware that the IAF destroyed the Egyptian Air Force on the ground in a first strike. Nor are they aware that the Israelis had first grabbed the Sinai in 1956 and Eisenhower had ordered them out.

Babak Makkinejad

SubKommander Dred:

You wrote: " a theocratic, undemocratic quasi police state" etc.

Iran is not "undemocratic" as you suggested. She is quasi-democratic, in my opinion (in comparison to US and EU).

Moreover, I would like to know on what grounds do you object to a "theocratic" state?

I have heard this turn of phrase bandied around, specially by Western people, a lot.

Are there intellectual arguments against such a political order that can hold water? If so, I would like to know it.

The intellectual arguments for it are of course in the works of St. Thomas, Al Farabi, and the Late Ayatullah Khomeini.

Sidney O. Smith III

I believe that a personality that leans towards intuition is an asset but I see no evidence that neocons have that kind of M-B profile or perhaps I-Q. From what I have read, intuition perhaps arises in part out of the ability to have empathy for others. In the vernacular, it is just “putting yourself in their shoes”. To translate to Sun Tzu (and the ancient Greeks, perhaps), it is the ol’ maxim “know your enemy and know your “self”.

But I agree with you, without an attempt to understand reality through experience, then intuition is not intuition at all.

Re: Stephen Hadley denying US intelligence community vital info on the Israeli air strike against a Syrian facility:.


Key quote:
“The new information, particularly images received in the past 30 days, has been restricted to a few senior officials under the instructions of national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley, leaving many in the intelligence community unaware of it or uncertain of its significance, said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Some cautioned that initial reports of suspicious activity are frequently reevaluated over time and were skeptical that North Korea and Syria, which have cooperated on missile technology, would have a joint venture in the nuclear arena.”

Also Col. Lang had an thread here at sst back in Sept.07:

Hadley’s actions -- one could argue -- evidence more than “dual loyalty”. It is an affirmative step not in the interests of the US. The Wurmser option -- if properly reported by Clemons -- was an affirmative step to place US troops at risk of death for the interests of another nation. Apparently Cheney endorsed the Wurmser option.

David Habakkuk

Many fascinating contributions, and a great deal to think about.

Andy says I do not address his principal point: How best to deal with such tactics.

As I said, I think it is important to argue, even with rascals. However, it is also important to bring crucial facts to people's attention, which have been ignored, or not adequately reflected upon.

As regards Strauss, it is important that he started out as a fascist, and did not see Hitler's rise to power as any reason to revise his views. Is this 'name-calling' or 'attacking the messenger'? I do not think so, as the self-identification as a fascist is his own.

In the study of Strausss he published last year, Eugene Sheppard quoted him writing to Karl Löwith in May 1933 as follows:

'Just because the right-wing oriented Germany does not tolerate us, it simply not follow that the principles of the right are therefore to be rejected. To the contrary, only on the basis of principles of the right -- fascist, authoritarian, imperial -- is it possible, in a dignified manner, without the ridiculous and sickening appeal to the "unwritten rights of man," to protest against the repulsive monster.'

Sheppard also tells us that:

'In the light of recent events Strauss turned to read Caesar's Commentaries with a newfound comprehension connecting it with Virgil's judgement that under Roman imperial rule, "the subjected are spared and the proud are subdued." Strauss expressed his intransigent defiance of the pressing bleak situation proclaiming to Löwith: "There is no reason to crawl to the cross, event to the cross of liberalism, as long as anywhere in the world a spark glimmers of Roman thinking. And even more cherished than any cross is the ghetto."'

Round about the same time, one of the great American foreign correspondents of the time, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, published one of the classic anti-appeasement polemics, Germany Puts the Clock Back. Am I really expected to see Strauss as a possessor of some kind of 'esoteric wisdom', denied to intellectually and spiritually inadequate figures like Mowrer?

It is central to Shadia Drury's argument about the Straussians that they come in two kinds -- the true votaries, judged fit to be entrusted with the 'esoteric' doctrine, and those judged to lack the intellectual and spiritual gifts required to face the truth. It follows as a simple point of logic that it is very difficult to know, with Straussians, whether they are telling you what they actually think or not. The question of whether Strauss himself did or did not stick to the convictions he articulated in 1933, for example, is extraordinarily difficult to answer.

However, we do have a fascinating fictional account of a leading Straussian -- the 'Ravelstein' of Saul Bellow's novel of that name being a portrait of Strauss's leading disciple Allan Bloom. From this novel, we learn that 'Ravelstein' thought Caesar 'the greatest man who ever lived within the tides of time'. As Clifford Kiracofe points out, Bloom influenced Wolfowitz (although he did not I think formally teach him.) He did I think teach Francis Fukuyama. It was Fukuyama who in his famous 'End of History article reintroduced the curious version of Hegelianism of the Stalinist-turned-EEC bureaucrat Alexander Kojève, to whom Clifford also refers -- pointing out that Bloom studied with him, at Strauss's suggestion. According to Fukuyama:

'Kojève sought to resurrect the Hegel of the Phenomenology of Mind, the Hegel who proclaimed history to be at an end in 1806. For as early as this Hegel saw in Napoleon's defeat of the Prussian monarchy at the Battle of Jena the victory of the ideals of the French Revolution, and the imminent universalization of the state incorporating the principles of liberty and equality. Kojève, far from rejecting Hegel in light of the turbulent events of the next century and a half, insisted that the latter had been essentially correct. The Battle of Jena marked the end of history because it was at that point that the vanguard of humanity (a term quite familiar to Marxists) actualized the principles of the French Revolution.'

So, apparently, the victory of the prototypical modern 'Caesar' -- Napoleon -- represents the triumph of 'liberty'. It is precisely because the term 'vanguard' is 'familiar to Marxists', incidentally, that some of us so distrust it.

Another quote -- from an essay on the sociologist Max Weber by Donald MacRae. As early as the 1890s, MacRae writes, 'Weber saw in the rootless middle classes and the fragmented mases a "longing for a new Caesar". In a noteworthy article a few days ago, Ray McGovern harks back to one of the classic depictions of just this mentality. He recalls how Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor 'ridicules Christ for imposing on humans the heavy burden of freedom of conscience, and explains how it is far better, for all concerned, to dull that conscience and to rule by deceit, violence, and fear'. And he quotes the Inquisitor's anticipation that people will 'lay their freedom at our feet.' He also quotes at length from the diary of the anti-Nazi lawyer Sebastian Haffner, which describes precisely the processes Weber and Dostoevsky had anticipated in action.

'The sequence of events is, as you see, not so unnatural. It is wholly within the normal range of psychology, and it helps to explain the almost inexplicable. The only thing that is missing is what in animals is called "breeding." This is a solid inner kernel that cannot be shaken by external pressures and forces, something noble and steely, a reserve of pride, principle, and dignity to be drawn on in the hour of trial. It is missing in Germans. As a nation we are soft, unreliable, and without backbone. That was shown in March 1933. At the moment of truth, when other nations rise spontaneously to the occasion, the Germans collectively and limply collapsed. They yielded and capitulated, and suffered a nervous breakdown.'

The article is available at http://www.counterpunch.org/mcgovern12122007.html.

There are those who think that the inhabitants of the United States and Britain are somehow immune from such pathologies. Like McGovern, I do not. Accordingly, I do not find it amusing to find leading American policymakers having their minds shaped by someone who believed that Caesar was the greatest man who ever lived, particularly when the result appears to be that their idea of 'liberty' is an imperialistic military despotism. Those who care about the preservation of the republic should find this a cause for deep anxiety and revulsion, I think. Nor do I find it amusing when the veneration of a dubiously reconstructed fascist is regarded as normal and acceptable. So I do my best to draw people's attention to such facts, whenever I have the opportunity.

There is also, I think, an element of sheer preposterousness which needs to be brought out. And here, I must admit to a certain personal animus. My own father's politics were very similar to those of Edgar Ansel Mowrer. In the Thirties he hated and despised both communism and fascism, while believing the latter a more immediate danger: he was an impassioned opponent of appeasement. Like Mowrer, he suffered from the pathetic delusion that a perfectly adequate critique of both could be formulated in terms of his liberal principles. Perhaps I should accept that he was really not one of those with adequate spiritual and intellectual equipment to grasp the 'esoteric wisdom' of Strauss. Perhaps my father should have gone and joined Mosley's Blackshirts -- the fascist alternative in Britain at the time -- and tried to cure them of their anti-semitic convictions.

On the whole I am happy he took the positions he did. I think that anyone -- then and now -- who anticipates that a modern 'Caesarism' will bring an Augustan world of peace and plenty is an idiot; and that someone like Strauss who in 1933 was concerned to 'protest' in a 'dignified manner' against Nazism was a pompous ass.

And as I think that the Straussians have brought into American culture some of the pathologies that destroyed Europe, beyond a certain point rational argument is not enough. One has to fight. In so doing, I try not to stoop to the kind of methods used by Schmitt and Shulsky. But I certainly I have no intention of renouncing the traditional methods of invective on which successful polemic has so often depended. And your apparent belief that the opponents of the neoconservatives should treat them with kid gloves makes me wonder whether you are actually as 'moderate' as you profess to be.


The twilight of the neocons is already upon us, and one of the most important reasons they have failed to remake the world in their self-absorbed image is that their strategies were always too expensive. None of these pampered politicos ever had to balance a checkbook or meet a payroll, and it shows.

Rumsfeld (for but one example) thought his transformational blather could provide war-without-end on the cheap, so that the U.S. taxpayer could actually afford to colonize large portions of the middle east. His economic calculations just didn't add up.

The next 16d nail in the coffin for the neocon movement will be the result of yet-another of their self-inflicted wounds, as the nation they have pilfered from for so long slides into a recession that is likely to be deep, prolonged, and painful. Americans care much more about government corruption and the vast costs of empire when times are hard, and times are getting very hard indeed. The Vulcans require warm economic weather to thrive, and winter is arriving, fast.

There is a strong nativist streak in U.S. politics, and especially in the republican party (e.g., consider how McCain's presidential ambitions choked the moment he opposed nativist immigration reforms). The realization that the neocons looted the U.S. treasury on behalf of a number of foreign interests will not sit well with this part of the populace, and the hard times will make this group especially noisy, as its ranks swell with those who have been economically marginalized. It may get very ugly.

The neocon movement is collapsing under its own economic weight as its bad bets come due, and as the staggering costs of its empire become obvious to the American people, who are increasingly tapped out just trying to make ends meet. Thus the Ivy League elites of the neocon variety are likely to be run out of town on a rail, and their terminal woes will begin with the one essential political viewpoint they have so long ignored, namely "it's the economy, stupid!"

Mao said that economics always took a back seat to politics.

Like the neocons, Mao was wrong.


My recollection from reading a quite detailed history of the Six Day War several years ago (Six Days of War: June, 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Michael Oren) is that Egypt and Syria were mobilizing to attack Israel prior to the Israeli preemptive strike at the Egyption AF that Will mentions. According to the author Ben Gurion, who had been retired for several years at the time of the war but still had significant influence, was adamently opposed to a long-term, permanent occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. His advice in this instance was not heeded.


Amazing there wasn't a wiki article on Dr. Garthoff. There is a stub now. But he was cited in all kinds of other wiki articles.

It's not much, but it took while to get all of his 17 books in(that's all I could find for now). It's a stub, but i'm going to return and work that thing in about the submarines- 100 mm guns vs anti-aircraft guns once i figure out what the hell it means.

Raymond L. "Ray" Garthoff is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a specialist on arms control, the Cold War, NATO, and the former Soviet Union. He is a former U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, and has advised U.S. State Department on treaties.[1][2] He is the author of numerous scholarly papers, books, and has been featured on PBS documentaries. He is well known for his refutation of Team B's and Richard Pipes's characterization of Soviet nuclear doctrine.[3]



Your assertion that the likes of Henry Kissinger or John Bolten are making some sort of reasonable argument for taking action against Iran

Had I ever made such an assertion, you'd be right! On the contrary, I don't think their arguments for attacking Iran are compelling, but that doesn't mean that everything they say is false nor does it mean that all their arguments are flawed.

Hence my point is not to convince people like you to see Neocons as credible - rather, it is that they must be engaged in the debate if you want your ideas and views to win the national debate over their views.

And frankly, the way I see it, if we can engage Iran, or the Soviets, or any number of real adversaries and ultimately win the battle of ideas, why can we not engage domestic political and ideological enemies as well? To suggest they cannot be engaged is essentially the same argument the Neocons use to suggest the North Koreans, Iranians etc. cannot be engaged. Bolton, for example, persists in the view that the diplomacy with foes like Iran and North Korea can never amount to anything because, in his words (commenting on North Korea), "I don't think there's any chance Kim Jung-Il can be voluntarily persuaded to give up his nuclear weapons." He means, obviously, that diplomacy will never work in our efforts to denuclearize North Korea.

So, something rhetorical to ask yourself is, are you a John Bolton to the Neocon's North Korea? An entity so beyond the pale that to give any quarter is enable them and thereby flirt with defeat? I would hope not, for that is exactly the flawed ideological framework that informs neocon policy. For the Neocons, talking to and engaging enemies is to legitimize them and is tantamount to appeasement. It seems to me that in the battle against neocon policies we should take care that we don't adopt such a flawed and absolutist adversarial viewpoint.

David Habakkuk


Re 100mm guns versus anti-aircraft guns.

One of the best ways of seeing what it means, I think, is to view the German mini-series Das Boot.

The Allies command the surface and the air.

Accordingly, your natural method of attack is torpedoes -- either submerged, or on the surface at night.

However, in order to get to the point of attack, you have to travel on the surface. On the surface, you are extremely vulnerable to detection and attack from the air.

Surfacing to attack with a gun might have made sense before 1939 -- but is now a no no.

Try changing movie. Don't think Das Boot -- think The Longest Day.

Imagine that, rather than two Messerschmidts flying a kind of forelorn hope, you have squadrons of aircraft.

And imagine that on the first night of D-day, an armada of submarines had come out of Le Havre.

They would not need anti-aircraft capability -- a. because they were operating within range of shore-based air, and b. because they did not have the same need to travel long distances in daylight.

When they have used their torpedoes on the main targets, they can then surface and take a pot shot at anything visible with the 100mm gun.

So -- no D-day. From the point of view of a Western military planner, you don't even think about it.

One of the great problems of intelligence is putting different kinds of information together.

Certain kinds of consideration which to you and me -- with no professional expertise in naval warfare -- are not immediately apparent at all are crashingly obvious to an intellectually curious naval officer.

MccGwire was educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, where he graduated in 1942 with the King's Dirk -- the equivalent of the Sword of Honour at Sandhurst.

Posted to the submarine desk at GCHQ in 1952, he deduced that the Soviets ahd embarked on constructing a massive submarine fleet. Like everyone else, he jumped to the conclusion that its objective was to refight the Battle of Atlantic.

But precisely because of his professional naval expertise, he was able by 1959 to see that most of the submarines had the wrong armament and were in the wrong places.

The notion -- given classic expression in Albert Wohlstetter's 1958 Delicate Balance of Terror paper -- that Soviet planners expected to knock out American nuclear capabilities and render the remobilisation of the American military-industrial potential was simply wrong.

What was in the minds of Soviet planners was rather the fact that, less than a year after Pearl Harbor, the United States was landing in force in North Africa.

Starting from this, MccGwire ended up convinced that in some ways Soviet 'grand strategy' was rather easy to interpret. Precisely because it was coherently planned, one could work back from detailed outcomes to the policy decisions which produced them.


Andy makes excellent points. You will never convert some of the NeoKons. But, the fight is over the undecideds. And they need to see both viewpoints laid out side by side.

I get my information about Ben Gurion (nee David Green) from his contemporary Uri Avnery (born Helmut Ostermann), (the Israeli Peace Activist who fought in the Irgun and in the 56 Suez War).

I note that Wiki article on Gurion agrees with you
"After the Six-Day War, Ben-Gurion was in favour of returning all the occupied territories apart from Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and Mount Hebron.[11] "

David W

Andy, I appreciate your participation here, as you've brought many interesting facts and ideas to the table. In the abstract, I agree with your point about being wary of falling into an absolutist, reactionary position to the neo Jacobins.

However, that said, I think the reaction against your seemingly common sense viewpoint is this; the neo Jacobins are not rational actors, nor are they interested in debate. They have succeeded in largely co-opting both the Congress and the Media, which are two traditional vehicles for such debate as you would like to see, while pushing through outrageous changes to the fabric of the US Constitution and Govt.

While your Bolton analogy is interesting, i'm not sure how well it applies to something like, say, waterboarding. There doesn't appear to be much gray area there to me, so how can we be anything but absolutist in our position against it?



Another excellent response, particularly your last paragraph.

But I certainly I have no intention of renouncing the traditional methods of invective on which successful polemic has so often depended.

Nor would I want you to. Invective, properly used, has a long and honored tradition in debate and discourse, but so does humor, sarcasm, wit and others. Which is ascendant these days? The danger I see is that for many the invective is becoming the debate to the point that all else is pushed aside. In my view such invective-based discourse is both counterproductive and lacking in integrity. If one wishes to influence those who can be swayed to oppose the neocon ideology then an invective-based approach is not likely to work except to rally those who already think as you do. In short, attacking ideology only gets you so far.

And your apparent belief that the opponents of the neoconservatives should treat them with kid gloves makes me wonder whether you are actually as 'moderate' as you profess to be.

I see by your last sentence I had not made myself clear enough. Hopefully what I wrote in this comment and my last is clearer.

As for my politics and ideology I do consider myself moderate, though I acknowledge that term is highly subjective. As I indicated earlier, it's not unusual for me to be attacked as both a right or left wing ideologue based on the same statement or position posted in different forums. To me, that's as good a measure as any.


David W,

Thank you for the kind comments and a very interesting case with waterboarding. Let my apply my thinking to that particular issue.

Those who support waterboarding (and I include those who provide tacit support by refusing to condemn it or using the kind of CYA verbiage like "I support enhanced interrogation, but not torture.") have been swayed by the argument that such methods are necessary to protect the US from terrorism. When those opposed to waterboarding question its use, they are often attacked.

There are many rational and compelling counters to this flawed argument that require no invective and ideologically-based attacks in response. There's the long history of the US considering it torture, there's the argument that using it legitimizes its use against US troops, the overwhelming evidence that's it's not as effective as other techniques; there's the important consideration of moral standing, etc. I think it's most productive to spend the most effort on those salient points rather than attack a person's motivations or perceived beliefs in return.

Those who really believe in waterboarding and have drunk the kool-aid are unlikely to be persuaded regardless. In such a case, what is served by being mean except to cement them as an enemy? Those, on the other hand, who are basically honest and supported waterboarding because of ignorance or deception from the flawed pro-waterboarding arguments are much more likely to change their view in response to a merit-based argument.

Try this little experiment. Head on over to a prominent progressive or leftist blog and ask this question: "Hey, I don't see what's the big deal about waterboarding. It doesn't seem to cause any permanent damage and people have said it worked and provided information that prevented attacks on Americans. If it doesn't injure people and prevents attacks then I see nothing wrong with it."

Gauge the response you get and consider your reaction to their response. You're likely to get a ton of replies that attack you personally, assume much about your belief system or ideology and little that addresses the flaws in what you actually wrote. Is that likely to persuade you to reconsider your opinion on waterboarding? No. Hopefully, some will take a more reasoned and fact-based approach which may persuade you despite your indignation at what you feel are unjustified and unwarranted attacks on your person.

This little experiment is easily repeatable on right-wing sites by altering the statement to bait their preconceptions.

In short, too often the first response is to attack the person, not what they're saying. Those opposed to waterboarding, like I am, should avoid it if they want our viewpoint to prevail in the national debate.

Another case-in-point: The MoveOn "General Betrayus" ad. Regardless of the merits of Moveon's position on the war it was a plainly stupid move - particularly in hindsight - that materially damaged those opposed to the neocons. If casualties continue to fall into next year, the right will trot it out as an effective cudgel that will portray the Democrats as anti-military leftists. Dumb, dumb dumb.

So again, my point in all this is to get people to examine their perceptions, attitudes and tactics. This is not meant to treat the neocons with "kid gloves" but to adopt tactics and strategies that avoid shooting oneself in the ass while actually providing tangible results.

Clifford Kiracofe

"...I do not find it amusing to find leading American policymakers having their minds shaped by someone who believed that Caesar was the greatest man who ever lived, particularly when the result appears to be that their idea of 'liberty' is an imperialistic military despotism. Those who care about the preservation of the republic should find this a cause for deep anxiety and revulsion,">> David H.

David H, All,

This is an excellent and thought provoking thread. I fully share David H's concerns, admire his powerful analysis, and quite agree that classic invective is rather in order.

While working on a book a decade ago about Bormann and Heinrich Muller with the author, French colleague Pierre de Villemarest, a Resistance veteran, I was struck by the relationship between Nazi business and financial circles and certain circles in London, Paris, and New York.

It seems to me the Neoconservative intellectual and policy network must be viewed in larger context. That is to say, in its political context. My own analysis suggests that this intellectual and policy network is in the service of more powerful circles within the realm of international/transnational high finance and business. Kissinger and Brzezinski provide similar services to the same circles.

The European "Conservative Revolution", that is specifically the twentieth century Fascist movement (Mussolini, Hitler, etal.) in Europe was as is well known supported by certain segments of Big Business and High Finance.

For those interests who wish to impose a form of European Fascism on the United States, the Neoconservative network is a useful tool. Do these interests exist in the United States? Yes. Have they attempted such action in the past? Yes, for example, in the 1930s with the so-called
"Liberty League."

Rumsfeld and Cheney themselves during the Ford presidency were actively involved with Straussian circles. Rumsfeld and Cheney would be the "Gentlemen" in this context with the Straussians being the "Philosophers" advising the Gentlemen. The key cutout to Strauss etal was Robert A. Goldwin. See his papers at the Ford Presidential Library cited at:

Who put Bush 43s foreign policy team together...George Shultz.

As long as we are talking about the NIE process, I will cite Bill Langer in his book "Our Vichy Gamble" (New York:Knopf, 1947). Speaking of French industrial circles collaborating with the Nazis:

"These people were as good fascists as any in Europe...Many of them had long had extensive and intimate business relations with German interests and were still dreaming of a new system of "synarchy," which meant government of Europe on fascist principles by an international brotherhood of financiers and industrialists." (p.168).

This international network, and its American colleagues, most certainly survived World War II in good order. You can get a good feel for this crowd in Charles Higham, "Trading With the Enemy. The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949" (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1983). The bibliography is useful for those interested in a more in depth study of the matter. Charles is a character and well informed.

Some would suggest the Neoconservative network serves this power complex.

Is it any surprise at all that Jeb Bush was an original signer of the original PNAC proposals? Is it any surprise at all that George Shultz and Dick Cheney recruited the Neoconservative policy network in the Bush 43 Administration?

Should we be at all surprised that Karen Hughes' replacement just announced is a denizen of that Straussian temple of doom, AEI?

The Bush White House is a Neoconservative project because George W Bush and the social-economic-political elite he is part of WANT it that way. For the imperial faction, the Neoconservative network is a useful tool, IMO.



This isn't your main point but I thought I'd mention it anyway. I disagree with you (and Sheppard) on Strauss-as-a-fascist.

One of the things Straussians do is manipulate the dominant traditions of a society in order to inject morality with the authority of "revelation", so to speak. For the Straussians, morality is only 'real' if people believe in and abide by it. By putting morality in terms of society's authoritative texts (e.g. religion, traditions, legal codes, even the language of empirical evidence), they compel people's belief in and obedience to a moral code that they believe is necessary for society's survival.

That's what Strauss was doing in his letter to Löwith. The dominant traditions of Nazi Germany were "fascist", "authoritarian", and "imperial". He was trying to manipulate those traditions to lend authority to his moral conviction: Hitler's persecution of the Jews was evil.

I suspect that the Straussians today see their Team B analyses somewhat like Strauss' letter to Löwith. Our dominant traditions aren't authoritarian or imperial but pluralist and democratic. Our authoritative text is the language of empirical evidence. The Straussians interpret that text disingenuously to lend authority to a moral judgment: the defense of Israel, the destruction of tyranny.

Babak Makkinejad

Clifford Kiracofe:

Mr. Bush was twice elected to the presidency of the United States.

Additionally, he could not have been the policies that he had been pursuing without the consent of both houses of the US Congress.

One then has to conclude that the "imperial faction" as you say, constitutes a decisive majority of the American people - they had the chance to repudiate the policy of overthrowing sovereign states by their government, and they did not.

Furthermore, the so-called neo-conservatives' policy fantasies leading to US war against Iraq are analogous to the earlier neo-liberal fantasies that lead to US war in Vitenam.

In both cases, one has to ask; "How did these ideological people manage to gain ascendancy in such places as the Office of the Secretary of Defense?" and "How best to prevent this from hapenning again?"

In other words, how is it possible to have history repeat itself in less than 40 years - almost verbatim [the only thing we do not have yet is the burning of the ROTC building on the college campuses]?


However, some of the distortions are so flagrant that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that one is dealing with people utterly devoid of the standards of intellectual integrity that university education is supposed to instil.

My experience is that intellectual integrity is something one possesses or does not possess prior to entering university. I have not ever seen a university ever instill this value into anyone. At best, a university can place barriers to advancement of persons without integrity. A university can make a person with integrity much more rigorous.

A university can be a filter, an enhancer but not an instiller.

Clifford Kiracofe

<"One then has to conclude that the "imperial faction" as you say, constitutes a decisive majority of the American people -...">

Babak Makkinejad,

Thank you for your comment. I would phrase it perhaps: "constitutes a decisive influence over the majority of the American people." And a decisive influence over Congress.

The American people, and the Congress they elect, are rather easily manipulated by the concentrated newsmedia, print and electronic. In the Iraq War aftermath, the LA Times did a study indicating about 70 percent of those polled got their international news and orientation from the electronic media, about 30 percent from the print media. This use of the newsmedia for internal and external propaganda purposes was referred to in the 1950s as the "Great Wurlitzer" in some circles.

A good example from the past would be the Hearst Press and the Spanish-American War. The Spanish did NOT torpedo the Maine but rather the explosion and blast effect came from within outwards...probably overheated boilers Rickover concluded as I recall. We call this "Yellow Journalism."

On the Iran-Kissinger thread I emphasized the role of falsified "intelligence" (actually propaganda) used against President Eisenhower: the Gaither Commission, the "Bomber Gap" and the "Missile Gap".

The key figure who put in this "fix" was Paul Nitze. Nitze, as is well known, was a Wall Street banker who somehow turned into a nuclear strategist. In WWII, he handle raw material assessments I believe. He was a mentor of Richard Perle and Wolfie among others.

As I said on the other thread: " "The imperial faction strove once more to create an intensified sense of external threat and “emergency.” Not surprisingly, we find Paul Nitze again playing a critical role in the escalation of Cold War fears in 1957. At this time, a study on the US-Soviet military balance was put together by the “Gaither Committee,” a group of outside advisors originally tasked by the White House, as the “Security Resources Panel,” to consider civil defense issues.

Nitze played a central role drafting the committee’s final report, which was a sharp criticism of the Eisenhower Administration’s overall defense policy. The final report, using language similar to Nitze’s NSC-68 document, claimed there was a rapidly growing Soviet intercontinental nuclear missile capability. The report laid the groundwork for the “missile gap” propaganda of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Similar propaganda, in 1955, created a falsified “bomber gap” threat. The Gaither Report called for increased defense spending on the nuclear triad as well as spending to create a capability to fight “limited wars” in peripheral areas around the globe."

Nitze, I believe, worked for the Nazi-linked J. Henry Schroeder banking firm at one point and his mother's brother, Paul Hilken, as I recall was investigated for his role in the famous "Black Tom" sabotage explosions in New Jersey undertaken by the Kaiser's Germany in 1916. For which see the very revealing Jules Witcover book and briefly Wiki at

See also the American Legion Magazine article for the following quote:

"Not until 1930, however, did the case seem finally clinched when Paul Hilken, a naturalized American living in Baltimore, admitted having been "paymaster" for a number of German agents. One of them, "Graentnor," already alluded to by Kristoff, also used the name Max Hinch."

How is it possible for the imperial faction to maintain policy control? They are powerful politically. So the analysis is NOT just about what policy is correct or incorrect it is about political power and WHY and HOW certain policymakers are sitting at their desks...say like Elliot Abrams, or Elliot Cohen, or Wolfie in the Bush 43 Administration...or Dick Cheney or Rummy...or Tinkerbelle.

You may have noted that Imperialism (with respect to foreign policy) was an issue during the Election of 1900 here in the US, for example. Not a new issue....and there is most certainly a common thread of personalities running through the old "China Lobby," then "Vietnam Lobby," then Neocon Network.

For one such thread see, Andrew F. Smith, Foreward by Henry A. Kissinger, "Rescuing the World. The Life and Times of Leo Cherne" (Albany: SUNY, 2002). You might want to note the relationship between the American Jewish Committee and Freedom House and the Neocons, etc....


"knaves are knaves, and fools are fools."

Thanks for that edit. Was going to comment on the British-American pejorative gap.

David Habakkuk


A thought-provoking comment, but I think I still disagree.

One cannot meaningfully speak of Nazi Germany as having 'traditions' at the time Strauss was writing, as it had only been in existence for a few months.

One might suggest that German traditions were distinctly more 'authoritarian'than those of France or Britain. But to posit a kind of monolithic 'fascist' and 'imperial' tradition would be an oversimplification, to put it rather mildly.

As for the Nietzschean strand, which is I think explicit in early Strauss but comes to be hidden later, this is of course a self-conscious reaction against the Christian strand in the Western tradition, in favour of a (debased) form of the Roman.

The Christian strand is very important in the anti-Nazi opposition which grew up in the military and the bureaucracy in the course of the Thirties.

Its members were, in the circumstances of the time, desperately isolated figures. But it is a little dubious, is it not, to suggest that figures like Adam von Trott, Helmuth von Moltke, Ulrich von Hassell, or Hans Oster were somehow remote from an authentic German tradition which Strauss was articulating?

As for what Strauss is saying to Lowith, I think this is the kind of impassioned articulation of his true views which largely disappears in his later writings. He is not saying that liberal traditions are not for Germans -- he is expressing a comprehensive contempt for them which I believe he continued to feel after circumstances forced him to make his home in the United States.

He is also trying to fight off the essentially Tocquevillian argument put forward by figures like Thomas Mann after he came round to supporting the Weimar Republic, following the murder of the Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau by nationalist extremists in 1922.

This was, in essence, that the ineluctable trend to egalitarianism in the Christian West could manifest itself in two forms -- the relatively benign combination of equality and liberty found in the United States, or forms of 'Caesarism' which would resemble 'the hideous eras of Roman oppression.'

In the circumstances of Germany in the Twenties, what this meant was that the alternative to trying to make the Weimar order work was likely to be utterly catastrophic.

The notion that this fundamentally Tocquevillian view of Nazism -- which incidentally structures Mann's final reckoning with recent German history in his 1947 novel Doktor Faustus -- can be dismissed with the cavalier contempt of Strauss's dismissal of the 'cross of liberalism' is I think simply silly.

Eric Dönges


you wrote Moreover, I would like to know on what grounds do you object to a "theocratic" state?

I can't answer for SubKommander Dred, but for me, there are two fundamental problems with theocracy. One is that a theocracy must naturally be based on one religion, which means there cannot be any real freedom of religion under such a system. The other problem is that there cannot be any real separation of powers either, since if your authority derives directly from god (or gods, depending on whom you choose to believe), lesser mortals have no business questioning it.

From a more practical point of view, the fact that different cultures have very similar ideas on what make a society workable (i.e. no stealing from or killing your neighbors, etc), but are completely unable to reach any sort of consensus on religious matters, suggest that religious doctrine is a poor base to build a society on - unless you want a homogenous, highly repressive one. I don't.

Babak Makkinejad

Clifford Kiracofe:

Thank you for your comments.

But society is made of individual human beings and they are the ones who will be forming their opinions and making decisions.

And some who there is a large enough portion of the population that has bought into the "imperial project" since at least 1900. Surely this cannot be due to high IQ individuals in the government, media, and political parties?

Babak Makkinejad

Clifford Kiracofe:

Thank you for your comments.

But society is made of individual human beings and they are the ones who will be forming their opinions and making decisions.

And some who there is a large enough portion of the population that has bought into the "imperial project" since at least 1900. Surely this cannot be due to high IQ individuals in the government, media, and political parties?

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