Leo Strauss and the Neocon Lust for Terror → Washingtons Blog
Leo Strauss and the Neocon Lust for Terror - Washingtons Blog

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Leo Strauss and the Neocon Lust for Terror


Leo Strauss is the father of the NeoConservative movement, including many leaders of the current administration. Indeed, some of the main neocon players were students of Strauss at the University of Chicago, where he taught for many years. Strauss, born in Germany, was an admirer of Italian fascists, Nazi Philosophers and Machiavelli.

Strauss believed that a stable political order required an external threat and that if an external threat did not exist, one should be manufactured. Specifically, Strauss thought that:

"A political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat . . . . Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured".
(quote is by one of Strauss' main biographers).

Indeed, Stauss used the analogy of Gulliver's Travels to show what a Neocon-run society would look like:
"When Lilliput [the town] was on fire, Gulliver urinated over the city, including the palace. In so doing, he saved all of Lilliput from catastrophe, but the Lilliputians were outraged and appalled by such a show of disrespect."
Moreover, Strauss said:
"Only a great fool would call the new political science diabolic . . . Nevertheless one may say of it that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns."
So Strauss seems to have advocated governments letting terrorizing catastrophes happen on one's own soil to one's own people -- of "pissing" on one's own people, to use his Gulliver's travel analogy. And he advocates that government's should pretend that they did not know about such acts of mayhem: to intentionally "not know" that Rome is burning. He advocates messing with one's own people in order to save them from some "catastrophe" (perhaps to justify military efforts to monopolize middle eastern oil to keep it away from an increasingly-powerful China?).

Fast Forward a Couple of Decades

Fast forward to the 1990's . . .

Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor seemed to hint at this approach when he wrote in 1997:
"as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." (p. 211)
Similarly, the Project For A New American Century, a think tank lobbying group with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and the other leading Neocons in its ranks, lamented that its rapacious military agenda would not be realized "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."

Don't believe that these quotes represent anything nefarious yet?

Fast forward to today . . .

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said the American people lack "the maturity to recognize the seriousness of the threats." What's to be done? According to Rumsfeld, "The correction for that, I suppose, is [another] attack."

Newt Gingrich recently said:
"the better they've done at making sure there isn't an attack, the easier it is to say, 'Well, there never was going to be an attack anyway.' And it's almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us."
The head of the Arkansas Republican party said:
"At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001]" so people appreciate Bush.
Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky openly called for "another 9/11" that "would help America" restore a "community of outrage and national resolve".

Lt.-Col. Doug Delaney, chair of the war studies program at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, told the Toronto Star that "The key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like 9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago."

And an allegedly-leaked GOP memo touts a new terror attack as a way to reverse the party's decline.

It's All Hot Air, Isn't It?

But isn't this all talk? They wouldn't really allow terror to happen . . . or aid and abet such attacks. Would they?

Well, President Carter recently impliedly acknowledged the risk of staged provocation in order to start a war against Iran.

A former National Security Adviser told the Senate that a terrorist act might be carried out in the U.S. and falsely blamed on Iran to justify war against that nation.

Former Senator Gary Hart warned Americans that the White House might create a "Gulf of Tonkin" or "remember the Maine" type incident to justify war against Iran (starting at 7:15 minutes)

Current U.S. Congressman Ron Paul stated, the government "is determined to have martial law", and that the government is hoping to get the people "fearful enough that they will accept the man on the white horse"

Daniel Ellsberg, the famous Pentagon Papers whistleblower, said "if there is another terror attack, "I believe the president will get what he wants", which will include a dictatorship.

A retired 27-year CIA analyst who prepared and presented Presidential Daily Briefs and served as a high-level analyst for several presidents, stated that if there was another major attack in the U.S., it would lead to martial law. He went on to say:
"We have to be careful, if somebody does this kind of provocation, big violent explosions of some kind, we have to not take the word of the masters there in Washington that this was some terrorist event because it could well be a provocation allowing them, or seemingly to allow them to get what they want."
The former CIA analyst would not put it past the government to "play fast and loose" with terror alerts and warnings and even events themselves in order to rally people behind the flag


The former assistant secretary of treasury in the Reagan administration, called the "Father of Reaganomics", who is a former editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, Business Week, and Scripps Howard News Service, and, said:

"Ask yourself: Would a government that has lied us into two wars and is working to lie us into an attack on Iran shrink from staging "terrorist" attacks in order to remove opposition to its agenda?"
He goes on to say:

If the Bush administration wants to continue its wars in the Middle East and to entrench the "unitary executive" at home, it will have to conduct some false flag operations that will both frighten and anger the American people and make them accept Bush's declaration of "national emergency" and the return of the draft. Alternatively, the administration could simply allow any real terrorist plot to proceed without hindrance.

A series of staged or permitted attacks would be spun by the captive media as a vindication of the neoconsevatives' Islamophobic policy, the intention of which is to destroy all Middle Eastern governments that are not American puppet states. Success would give the US control over oil, but the main purpose is to eliminate any resistance to Israel's complete absorption of Palestine into Greater Israel.

Think about it. If another 9/11-type "security failure" were not in the works, why would Homeland Security czar Chertoff go to the trouble of convincing the Chicago Tribune that Americans have become complacent about terrorist threats and that he has "a gut feeling" that America will soon be hit hard?

A member of the British Parliament stated that "there is a very real danger" that the American government will stage a false flag terror attack in order to justify war against Iran and to gain complete control domestically

And the former UN Weapons Inspector, an American, who stated before the Iraq war started that there were no weapons of mass destruction is now saying that he would not rule out staged government terror by the U.S. government.

Does that sound like the Neocons' expressions of yearning for terror are just so much talk? Or does it sound like the disciples of Leo Strauss are willing to "manufacture threats" and "fiddle while Rome burns"?

And if the it is the latter, and the same people made the expressions of yearning before 9/11, the anthrax attacks and the London bombings, what does that imply about the cause of those events?

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  5. I discovered your blog recently and there are many points I agree with (US terrorism, corporatocracy, to name a few). For other points, I disagree but prefer to suspend any judgement for the time being.

    I felt however the need to react to this post, even though it was posted a few years ago. Who knows ? Maybe you'll read it and may even read Leo Strauss differently. After all, even Plato, you can read him differently from the way it is taught at Harvard. So my reply should be as an invitation to read differently.

    In my humble opinion, Leo Strauss is a philosopher and has nothing to do with neocons. It does not matter to me if they claim any relation to him.

    It is true that there are many ambiguities in his writings. There are well known passages where it is especially difficult to grasp what he meant. But no man is an island, and again, even Plato, even say the Bible, one can read differently from the canons of the church or whoever. (Especially if in the present case, the church is the church of the neocons.... But basically, the argument remains valid for *any* church.)

    Leo Strauss deals precisely the subtle relation between philosophy and politics. To begin with, contrary to many so-called neoclassical philosophers, he holds that politics is ontologically inferior to philosophy. This view is explicit in many of his writings, including those dealing with excellence and education.

    The excerpts quoted above are taken out of context. One of them is from a very sharp review of a book on Plato and is actually a very strong argument against political science as superseding philosophy. Another is a comment on Machiavel. It does not have to reflect Strauss' own politial view. Otherwise, you'd have to say that Strauss supports both Epicurus doctrine on nature and Maimonides' theory of divine providence (which contradict each other), Marsilius' and Machiavel's political theories (also contradict each other) and so on...

    In fact, the view that Leo Strauss actually supported a self-proclaimed and self-reproducing ruling elite is not even a blatant distorsion of his views. It is ignorance.

    One of the main claim in Strauss' thought is that true philosophy is always on the verge of destruction; that true philosophers (as opposed to intellectuals) are always persecuted in one form or in another by the political power; and that the true goal of philosophy is not accomplished within the realm of politics.

    So please. Neocons scare me as well, but I won't let *them* have Leo Strauss as *they* wish.

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