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28 July 2017


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You are kidding? Aren't you?

Plato's Republic? The assumed source of later Utopia thinkers?

Random pick, without taking a closer look:

English Outsider

Colonel - this particular neo-con strand seems to go back a long way. Googling Wohlstetter brought up this, a site unknown to me but which amplifies the Wiki entry:-


"Wohlstetter is also said to have sent Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to work on the staff of Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a conservative hawk committed to working on behalf of the US defense industry, and for Wolfowitz and Perle to intern for the Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy, a Cold War think tank co-founded by former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and former Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze.[28] This is also thought to be precursory moves to the formation of the “Team B” intelligence analysis team as Nitze used Wohlstetter’s assertions in testimony to accuse Henry Kissinger and the CIA of dangerously underestimating the Soviet Union’s military strength and its intentions. As Craig Unger put it:

"This was the beginning of a thirty-year fight against the national security apparatus in which the [neoconservatives] mastered the art of manipulating intelligence in order to implement hard-line, militaristic policies.”[29]"

What your anecdote above illustrates is the evangelical zeal with which the neo-cons pushed their views and sought to convert. I had assumed that the neo-cons got out of the basement and into the front office because, figuratively speaking, the front office was empty. That is, that they came to dominate Foreign Policy thinking almost by default, simply because Foreign Policy was not a prime interest of the American voter and therefore could be captured by any strong interest group that happened to be around.

It seems there was more to it than that and that the neo-cons or their precursors actively laid siege to the front office over a long period.

Is this related to the influence exerted on the American intellectual and political scene by continental and in particular Eastern European emigre groups that brought with them the attitudes, and particularly the Russophobia, of their roots?

Such groups remain, as it were, frozen in time, not adapting to changing circumstances and attitudes in their home countries but retaining the old attitudes and approach unaltered.

We see this effect when looking at the Irish diaspora in Australia and the US in the nineteenth century. The historians give great weight to the effect of this diaspora. Without the support of these outside groups, and their rigid adherence to the hard line attitudes they had brought to their new country with them, the Irish revolution would have taken a different and possibly more fruitful course. That applies also to the influence emigre groups exert within the US itself. I believe Syrian emigres from the old Syrian regime were influential in Washington, and their adherence to the grievances and outlook they brought over exerted that influence in Washington out of proportion to their value as true indicators of the up to date circumstances in the ME.

The Ukrainian emigre groups exert a similar influence in Canada and Australia. Again, preserving unaltered the attitudes their forbears brought over with them, they push their host governments strongly to support the ultra-nationalist groups in their country of origin although (my opinion only, but there does seem to be some warrant for it) the average Ukrainian patriot had, before 2014, moved well away from the ultra-nationalism of the 1940's.

Such groups of emigres, emigre groups whose attitudes are frozen in time and not that well connected to current reality, could perhaps be termed "fossil groups". In Western countries, unacquainted with and usually uninterested in the contemporary political scene in the foreign countries those fossil groups originate from, they can exert a strong electoral and intellectual influence on the host country. The extremist always wins against the moderate when the moderate's not that bothered and the extremist is.

Is it going too far to say that the American Foreign Policy scene, never particularly of detailed interest to the voter because there was plenty to get on with just building up that huge American economy and dealing with domestic issues, has now been taken captive by those "fossil groups"?

And that the West as a whole, because of the predominance of the US in the West, is now similarly captive? If so the "lunatic juggernaut", as one can fairly term the West as a whole when one observes the catastrophic mistakes we in the West make in our Foreign Policy, is in truth being steered by groups who have little contact with current reality and dangerously little in common with the peoples of their host countries.

Babak Makkinejad

Truly deplorable didplay of parochial ignorance. They could have travelled to India or to Iran and seen and experienced for themselves what millenia of tyranny and lie creates.

 Ishmael Zechariah

English Outsider,
A nice link. Thank you.
AFAIK both Perle and Wolfowitz are zionist israel-firsters. Do you think the Wohlstetters and Strauss also belonged to this group?

Ishmael Zechariah



They are or were all neocon Israel firsters. pl



"He also has shown great courage personally, for example entering Fallujah at the height of the uprising there and spending the day and night talking with leaders in the insurgency."

That would have been early 2004, while Col Harvey was "Red Team" Chief.



I am told that this account is self-generated. Now think about the Falluja story. The people he would have visited were dedicated jihadis. They routinely cut peoples' heads off or crucify them for not sharing their opinion of the nature of Islam. They hung the burned and mutilated corpses of a number of American off a bridge in town. Do you really think Derek Harvey who speaks no Arabic went to have a listening opportunity with them? If you think that you are very gullible. was he decorated for this feat of daring do? If so, I want to see the citation. It took a brigade sized force to break into the town. Was that because the command would not listen to Derek Harvey? pl


That I don't know, but the improbable, hell, impossible, tales of travel in the service of self-promotion remind me of The Commodore.


Are you calling CNN fake news?


"Serving under McMaster is a triumvirate of well-seasoned Middle East hands. The senior director at the NSC for the Middle East is retired Col. Derek Harvey, an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer with a Ph.D. who served as the head of the US military cell examining the insurgency in Iraq in 2003."

In terms of empiricism... I would think that discovering whether someone can speak a given language should be very easy to test.



Derek Harvey does not speak Arabic except for "hello," "goodbye," "thank you" and the like. Send him around and I will give him a language test. Nor does Harvey have a Ph. D I have consulted peers of his who were in Iraq when he was supposedly playing Lawrence of Arabia in Falluja. They universally believe this to have been BS. He is a wonderfully skilled self-promoter. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I have a real Ph.D. and have been waiting for the President, any President, to offer me a lucrative government job as a Hispano-American expert which my smattering of Spanish and my ownership of bilingual poetry books surely entitle.

Babak Makkinejad

I do not crdit that. On the whole US has gained nothing from Japan - except unemployment. And then there is the little matter of Afghanistan, for which, the money traol goes tjrough her anf back in DC.

English Outsider

Ishmael Zechariah - I'm too far away to have any worthwhile feel for how ultra-Zionism got into its current position as a determining factor in American Foreign Policy, and by extension ours. I have, with some diffidence, maintained that the Scofield Bible has more clout than AIPAC in the United States but that belief was arrived at by reading accounts and examinations of the American fundamentalist scene and not from direct experience. In fact when I read the English correspondents on this site I'm chastened to realise how unaware I have been of various political cross currents in my own country, so I don't pretend to be able to accurately pin down the cross currents in yours.

The Colonel's Venn diagrams - intersecting interest groups - are, I am convinced, the best way of visualising the interplay of the various interest groups and ideological pressures that resulted in current American Foreign Policy. Ultra-Zionism got into the mix, that's for sure, but perhaps even those who observed the process at first hand would be hard put to identify exactly how. All most can do is see the results. And live them.

What is clear to any outside observer is how open the American political and intellectual scene is. An American today might feel hemmed in by PC and current dogma to an extent that would be incomprehensible to any American of the past, but to an outsider it seems a remarkable free and open-minded society in contrast to the more restricted and self-censoring political environment in Europe. That openness gives grounds for hope that it will be the Americans who will find the way out the the cul-de-sac the West is currently trapped in, but it is also a vulnerability. If good things might find a lodging in this relaxed and open culture so might bad and in my comment above I had hoped to look at how it was that America, that byword for confident progress, found itself harbouring some of the more regressive political tendencies that found their way from Old Europe. Harbouring them, and scarcely without noticing, allowing them to direct their fortunes and the fortunes of the West.


To your list of outsiders influencing American foreign policy I'd add the Rwandan Tutsis who, while their elite were in exile in New York and Canada in the 1970's and 80's, formed very close links with zionists and neo-conservatives. Their intelligence and brightness appealed, as well as, possibly, the murkier strains of Social Darwinism (a culture very much still alive in the Tutsi elite) since eugenicist theories have always defined them as "philo-semites", unlike the untermenschen Central African Hutu who make up the vast majority of the Rwanda's population).

The Tutsi elite's invasion of Rwanda under Paul Kagame was heavily financed by elements in The West (who also, unsurprisingly, had their eyes on the vast deposits of rare metals (especially for computers) in the neighbouring and highly unstable Congo).

The "Rwandan Genocide" which followed was used again and again as an excuse ("It Must Never Be Allowed To Happen Again!") for the Iraq and Libyan and Syrian interventions. But more sceptical voices are increasingly pointing out that Paul Kagame's troops were as much initially involved in massacring Hutus as Hutus were in massacring the rural Tutsis (who had little connection with the cosmopolitan Tutsi Elite), and that Kagame then used "The Genocide" as a repeated cover and excuse for barbaric invasions (fully supported by the West for both ideological and commercial reasons) of the Congo and the terrible slaughters and exploitations which took place (and continue to take place) there.

Only recently has the once lionized Kagame been condemned by the United Nations, despite fervent opposition to this by his powerful supporters in The West.

Gerard Prunier's magisterial "Africa's World War" covers this tragedy in great detail, and is in itself partly a "mea culpa" for his earlier "The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide" which he admits he wrote while bedazzled by Kagame.



Really fast look, I am aware of the larger Straussiophobia. With all due respect to Shadia Drury. Haven't read her books, admittedly.

By contrast, Shadia Drury, professor of political theory at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, argues that the use of deception and manipulation in current US policy flow directly from the doctrines of the political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). His disciples include Paul Wolfowitz and other neo-conservatives who have driven much of the political agenda of the Bush administration

Stopped here. Felt from the first time I stumbled across it, was even slightly curious, far too easy. Should I go back and study it more closely?

Babak: Truly deplorable display of parochial ignorance. They could have traveled to India or to Iran and seen and experienced for themselves what millennia of tyranny and lie creates.

Yes, I agree that's part of the puzzle. I may have struggled with something comparable over here not too long ago. At least in essence it feels. But, it feels there are many comparable "theys" around.

But while I admittedly read almost every book on the Neocons I could lay may hands post 9/11. The Straussian angle felt a bit hyped to me. No doubt, I may be wrong. I surely didn't look into the assumed occult aspect of matters. To the extend I looked at Strauss' study of Machiavelli it didn't feel that striking. Yes, no doubt tried to offer 'Il principe' deceptive means in trying to get his attention.

Machiavelli's intention in curing the attention of his master clearly to teach him the best ways of deception. But: Is there a way to understand, or better still to prove, how Strauss' interpretation of Machiavelli may have gotten into the mind of e.g. Wolfowitz? Which in return explains why matters unfolded the way they did?

Why do we need to select Leo Strauss as the ultimate representative of Machiavelli in our times? Never mind, the long reception history of Il Principe/The Prince? The neocons as his only true descendants? Well, how would their biographies compare to Machiavelli's attempt to please the Prince? Or their attempts at getting the attention of the respective "cherry blossom king" (Tyler's coinage for Trump, here used for whatever president of the US more generally)?

Meaning: Before I stumbled across the debate I assumed that Machiavelli was more generally a standard text in politics and for politicians in the West. (no political scientist, no political philosopher, admittedly).


Well yes, there was this biographical detail linking Strauss to Carl Schmitt:


And yes, without any doubt one might be able to draw a direct line from Carl Schmitt's Political Theocracy to Israel, as at least one Israeli scholar has done.

But does that help us to solve the larger riddle of US politics? Apart from telling us that you may be born into time and space beyond your own choices, as Leo Strauss was, and then have to deal with it? Maybe even trying to understand with whatever means?


Personal note: Saw your and Kooshy's response. Thanks to both of you.

Eric Newhill

The adherents of the Scofield Bible are aligned with AIPAC. These Christians belief that in order for Christ to return, Israel must exist and the temple must be rebuilt. They want Christ to return and they want to facilitate the occurrence of the event. Thus they are 100% pro-Israel in a most Zionist fashion.

dilbert dogbert

Yes he bypasses established conventions, but, will that tactic get things done? Example: Obamacare Repeal.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.
The Protestant Christians in US and in UK - as a big part of Electorate - are largely responsible for enabling the neocons. The West has bought and paid for A RELIGIOUS indulgence, called Israel and is unwilling to either admit or accept that it has led to a religious war. I guess the West expects to prevail.

Larry Kart

And what of the man that McMaster seemingly can't get rid of -- the still firmly in place, and high in the NSA hierarchy, Ezra Cohen-Watnink?


"Are you calling CNN fake news?"

The more apt description would be Fraudulent news.

Larry Kart

Sorry -- that's Cohen-Watnick.

Hubert Horan

A couple book recommendations for anyone who wants historical background on the links between Strauss and the neocons. First point is that conservatives spent decades of efforts trying to build a "political theory/philosophy" that would support/justify their political/ideological objectives. Nash's "The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America 1945-1970" is widely recognized by folks of various political persuasions as a solid work of history. Nash describes how this pursuit of a theoretical grounding for "conservatism" developed, and mentions how Strauss developed a wide following among these movement conservatives, although because the story ends in the 70s it doesn't describe how Strauss later became a subject of adoration among neocons. Although the points seem self-evident, Nash (and similar writers) never explicitly explain why conservatives ever thought their political movement could have a rigorous philosophical basis, given the yawning gap between "philosophy" and short-term partisan politics, given the variety of incompatible and changing political objectives of conservatives, and given that no one in the center of left side of the political spectrum (hard-core 1930's Marxists excepted) wasted time worrying about whether their political agenda was strongly linked to an underlying, immutable "theory".
Gottfried's "Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America" (2012) describes some of the post-1980 "cult of Strauss" among neocons, with competing schools based at Claremont (led by Harry Jaffa) and Chicago (led by Alan Bloom). Godfried (I think reasonably) defends Strauss against certain academic attempts (including Drury) to tie Strauss to views of Carl Schmidt that he didn't share, and explains Strauss' Israel-first Zionism as simply typical of Jewish intellectuals who had fled the Nazis. Gottfried fails to make the points as explicitly as his evidence allows, but many of the nasty stuff attributed to Strauss are the fault of his disciples, who simplified/misrepresented abstruse philosophical points to fit the neocon agenda of the 1990s and beyond.

English Outsider

Yes, Christian Zionism can I think fairly be termed an Eschatological puzzle. The time-line varies considerably depending on where you look so it's difficult to arrive at a consensus on what actually happens in the End Times. One thing is certain. When it comes to who actually gets through the process and reaches the final stage the unconverted Jews don't make the cut.

So those big Christian Zionist jamborees in Israel must be very odd affairs. The Christian Zionists looking at the Jews and thinking "You're for the chop" and the Jews looking at the Christian Zionists and thinking it's all mumbo-jumbo. They seem to get along together pretty well for all that and such events exemplify the strong link between Israel and a large chunk of the American electorate - millions some say, scores of millions say others - that is a factor in American politics no national American politician can ignore.

That is AIPAC's power base. AIPAC is an active and highly visible lobby but it doesn't by all accounts have that much money to spread around. Were it not for the fact that it owns the votes of much of Middle America it would be lost in the crowd. As it is, it is no exaggeration to say that in owning those votes it effectively owns American Foreign Policy in the Middle East.

Put that together with the influence exerted over the long term by groups essentially external to American political culture, an influence examined above, put that with the cargo-cult monetary theories of the current economic consensus, mix well, and out comes Neocon.

Poor old Trump. He's got to get through that lot before he can start putting his country back together again. I wonder if he'll make it. Hope he does, and not only for your sake. Oddly enough, there's quite a lot riding on him in Europe too.



A picture of recently arrested Pakistani IT guy who worked for many Democrats, with Seth Rich at a bar the night he was killed. I'm curious why there was no real investigation to his death


The Beaver


Looks like H.R McMaster is cleaning house. After Harvey, and Higgins ( fired on July 21st) , now it is Cohen-Watnick

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