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Updated Feb 2006; 4 June 2007

Our position on Neoconservatism is that it has defined and created a crossroad in American history, a crossroad where brazen partisanship and imperialism have divided our nation as rarely before, and much of the world along with it.

We see potential for extreme danger in the near- not to mention the far-future.

In order to support the conclusion you just read, we provide you with background information and a working definition of what neoconservatism is, who the players are (and who they have been).

While neocons, or their children, do not join the army and march off to war, their policies most definitely add fuel to already-burning fires.

The battle is for hearts and minds; guns send the wrong message. And so does bribing Iraqi press to print American propaganda. And so does our failure to build an Iraq. Nation building was not on the Neocon agenda, just as it was not for the Manifest Destiny folks of the 19th Century.

The Neocons seem to still believe that this time in history is an opportunity to become masters of America and the world. For a peek at the Neocons in the Bush administration, see: Gallery of Neocon Artists Our most basic conclusion is this:

To rule ourselves, we must first think for ourselves, then vote. We are not a mindless people; however, we are too often:

  • Complacent
  • Disinterested in the vital trends shaping our futures
  • Willing to just go with the flow--unmotivated even to vote
  • In denial--unaware of our hang-up on power.

Mindlessness is the real enemy of democracy. It's not Islam. It's not terrorism. And, it's not neoconservatism.

Leo Strauss: Godfather; Irving Kristol: Father

Numerous commentators are now in agreement that Straussians seem to have largely hijacked US governmental foreign policy. Condoleeza Rice, being more practical and pragmatic than the Administration, has made a little headway here and there, but the river of terror is now a torrent beyond her control.

At first glance, this looks like a non sequitur simply because many of the Strauss proteges cannot capture his philosophy in a few simple sentences and agree on them. Strauss writings are so obtuse that any interpretation is difficult. Different versions of Straussians have appeared, but all agree that Strauss believed Plato and Aristotle presented certain greater truths than do more modern philosophers.

In particular, Straussians agree with Plato that democracy is not an efficient system of governance. Was this feature behind the thrust to give the presidency autocratic powers? It certainly looks like it.

Yet modernization was driven by democracies; democracies provided the stable governance required by modernization. Political science in Plato's day was not up to predicting modern history. So Plato and Strauss were both wrong. Democracy, combined with market economies and separated firmly from the Church, is merely the best form of governance humanity has yet to devise. The Neocons, with their plutocracy, and Bush with his Christian right support are out to change these fundamental characteristics that made America what it is. In the long run, theocracies have never been successful; neither have plutocracies.

In another way they also erred in predicting that all Muslims would welcome Western style democratic institutions. That is not their culture; Islam is their culture and Islam provides all the governance needed.

In yet another way, this and earlier administrations, too, missed the boat. Each projected its beliefs off onto the Muslim world. "Projected" in the psychological sense of viewing the world as being our view of the world, that there can, of course, be no other. The trouble is compounded when the other side views things in their terms. Neither side understands the other. Until they do, there will never be an equitable peace. The Oslo agreement and implementation came close. A Jewish extremist put an end to that Idyll.

So who was Leo Strauss? From Information Clearing House:

"If Strauss' influence on politics in the capital of the most powerful nation on Earth was awesome in 1996, it is even more so today. The leading "Straussian" in the Bush Administration is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who was trained by Strauss' alter-ego and fellow University of Chicago professor Allan Bloom. Wolfowitz leads the "war party" within the civilian bureaucracy at the Pentagon, and his own protégé, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, is Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff and chief national security aide, directing a super-hawkish "shadow national security council" out of the Old Executive Office Building, adjacent to the White House. According to Bloom biographer Saul Bellow, the day that President George H.W. Bush rejected Wolfowitz and Cheney's demand that U.S. troops continue on to Baghdad, during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Wolfowitz called Bloom on his private phone line to bitterly complain. It seems that "Bush 41" was not enough of a Nietzschean 'superman' for Wolfowitz's taste." "However, Strauss' name may also prove to be a liability, particularly for those neoconservative ideologues who are now attempting to steer President Bush into a no-win war in the Persian Gulf, in pursuit of an illusory world empire, and who are finding themselves under growing public attack." "On March 3, in a widely circulated radio interview on the Jack Stockwell Show in Salt Lake City (see EIR, March 14), Lyndon LaRouche had singled out Strauss as one of the leading intellectual figures, along with Bertrand Russell and H.G. Wells, steering the United States into a disastrous replay of the Peloponnesian War, which led to the collapse of Athens. Within days of the LaRouche interview, Leo Strauss was the subject of a series of public attacks, in the German, French and American media (see Documentation), for his role in producing the current generation of neoconservatives."

From David Gordon (

"Strauss's rejection of individual rights led him to espouse political views that Rothbard found repellent: We find Strauss. ...praising farsighted', sober' British imperialism; we find him discoursing on the good' Caesarism, on Caesarism as often necessary and not really tyranny, etc... he praises political philosophers for yes, lying to their readers for the sake of the social good' .I must say that this is an odd position for a supposed moralist to take."

Strauss philosophy has become the linchpin of neoconservatism. His most significant contributions to philosophy were captured in his book: Natural Right and History.

The John M. Olin Center for Inquiry into the Theory and Practice of Democracy has this to say about Strauss book:

"...the issues this book raises have only gained in significance. Strauss there reopened the question of natural right, the possibility of a standard of justice independent of and superior to human agreement or convention. He sharply criticized what he called historicism, the claim that all standards and indeed all human thoughts are relative to or imposed by particular historical situations. He argued that the radical historicism so widely accepted today eventually followed from changes in thought set in motion by the modern natural right doctrines of Hobbes and Locke. He also challenged the dominant view that the classical natural right doctrines of Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero have been superseded by historical change, and reopened the possibility that the classical view of natural right might have important lessons for us today."

His long suit, teaching, produced a flock of disciples.

Robert Locke ( has this to say:

"Strauss is an ambiguous, sometimes even troubling, figure, but he is essential to the conservative revival of our time and he offers the intellectual depth we are so desperately in need of. [Amen to that.] As a crude measure of his importance for those readers who continue to believe that philosophical matters are of no practical importance, consider the following list of his students or students of his students:

  • Justice Clarence Thomas;
  • Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork;
  • Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz;
  • former Assistant Secretary of State Alan Keyes;
  • former Secretary of Education William Bennett;
  • Weekly Standard editor and former Quayle Chief of Staff William Kristol;
  • Allan Bloom, author of "The Closing of the American Mind;"
  • former New York Post Editorials Editor John Podhoretz;
  • former National Endowment for the Humanities Deputy Chairman John T. Agresto; and,
  • not meaning to class myself with this august company but in the interests of full disclosure, myself. " [Robert Locke]"

[Bullets employed for clarity]

Who is Irving Kristol ?
From we find out:

"Irving Kristol(b. 1920), City College '40; co-editor of The Public Interest magazine; John M. Olin Distinguished Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. During World War II, he served in Europe with the Armored Infantry of the 12th Armored Division.

"From 1947 to 1952, he was managing editor of Commentary magazine; he was co-founder and editor, with Stephen Spender, of Encounter magazine from 1953 to 1958; from 1959 to 1960, he was editor of The Reporter magazine; from 1961 to 1969, he was executive vice president of Basic Books, Inc., a New York publishing house, from 1969 to 1985, he was on the faculty of New York University, and was Professor of Social Thought at the NYU Graduate School of Business Administration."

Irving Kristol is generally credited with breathing life into neoconservatism. He defines the goal of neoconservatism in the Weekly Standard as follows:

"...the historical task and political purpose of neoconservatism would seem to be this: to convert the Republican Party, and American conservatism in general, against their respective wills, into a new kind of conservative politics suitable to governing a modern democracy. That this new conservative politics is distinctly American is beyond doubt."

The key phrase "against their respective wills" stands out. The Neocons intend to dominate, it now appears, the world. Only an informed American electorate can stop them and redirect our forces to the cultural changes necessary to eliminate terror. The Neocons themselves appear to be mixtures of Authoritarian Personalities and Fundamentalists. They invade Iraq, wasting immense resources that could be better spent running down bin Laden and instituting worldwide cultural reforms needed to remove terror from the human condition. See Alienation, Humiliation, Solutions, and Hope for more on that.

In the same article Irving Kristol discussed policy:

"One of these policies, most visible and controversial, is cutting tax rates in order to stimulate steady economic growth. This policy was not invented by Neocons, and it was not the particularities of tax cuts that interested them, but rather the steady focus on economic growth."

"...It is a basic assumption of neoconservatism that, as a consequence of the spread of affluence among all classes, a property-owning and taxpaying population will, in time, become less vulnerable to egalitarian illusions and demagogic appeals and more sensible about the fundamentals of economic reckoning."

"...Neocons do not like the concentration of services in the welfare state and are happy to study alternative ways of delivering these services. But they are impatient with the Hayekian notion that we are on "the road to serfdom." Neocons do not feel that kind of alarm or anxiety about the growth of the state in the past century, seeing it as natural, indeed inevitable... People have always preferred strong government to weak government, although they certainly have no liking for anything that smacks of overly intrusive government. Neocons feel at home in today's America to a degree that more traditional conservatives do not. Though they find much to be critical about, they tend to seek intellectual guidance in the democratic wisdom of Tocqueville, rather than in the Tory nostalgia of, say, Russell Kirk. "

Tocqueville was a young French observer of the American scene. He did not create what he saw, but he reported it accurately with a European eye for worldly context. Some key phrases from his "Tocqueville's report":

On Money:
"...I know of no other country where love of money has such a grip on men's hearts or where stronger scorn is expressed for the theory of permanent equality of property."

On Constituents:
"The electors see their representative not only as a legislator for the state but also as the natural protector of local interests in the legislature; indeed, they almost seem to think that he has a power of attorney to represent each constituent, and they trust him to be as eager in their private interests as in those of the country."

On Genders:
"In America, more than anywhere else in the world, care has been taken constantly to trace clearly distinct spheres of action for the two sexes, and both are required to keep in step, but along paths that are never the same."

Plutocracy, Plato's governance by an elite, and gender inequality are inherent in Toqueville's observations. Kristol and his Neocons would have America roll its social/governance structures back two centuries! See Tocqueville for more.

Kristol provides more:

"...The steady decline in our democratic culture, sinking to new levels of vulgarity, does unite Neocons with traditional conservatives--though not with those libertarian conservatives who are conservative in economics but unmindful of the culture. The upshot is a quite unexpected alliance between Neocons, who include a fair proportion of secular intellectuals, and religious traditionalists. They are united on issues concerning the quality of education, the relations of church and state, the regulation of pornography, and the like, all of which they regard as proper candidates for the government's attention. And since the Republican Party now has a substantial base among the religious, this gives Neocons a certain influence and even power. Because religious conservatism is so feeble in Europe, the neoconservative potential there is correspondingly weak."

This is nothing less than an attack on the first amendment while bringing Fundamentalism into governance--the single biggest mistake we as a nation could make. Bush turned National Park concessions over to private operators who display materials on "Creationism" at the Grand Canyon [supposedly created a mere 6000 years ago] as a seemingly "sensible" alternative to the Natural History so elegantly displayed by nature herself. Complaints have been sitting on the Solicitor's desk at the Interior Department for a year. The Grand Canyon area and Southern Utah provide an astonishing record of the rise of plant and animal organisms over a half-billion year period. One only needs an open mind to read it for him/herself. Reasonable monotheists agree no other conclusion can be drawn. Their God works in more subtle and wonderful ways than did the God of Abraham.

Furthermore, Kristol presents no evidence at all that our culture is declining. Where is his evidence that pornography leads to crime other than the supposed crime of its existence? But there is plenty of evidence that feelings repressed psychologically can lead an individual to act out in violent ways. This is why violent sons are born of violent fathers. They are beaten up when they are powerless. After maturity it is only natural to emulate their role model. If pornography happens to be in the background of such an individual, the association seems natural. But what of all those of us, who visit erotica, who are not violent? From Internet statistics, something like half of all of us view pornography at some time in our lives. Kristol seems incapable of viewing this fact as overwhelming evidence contrary to his view.

This does not mean we endorse the demeaning of women, or men, graphically; we do not. Demeaning a person is the line we draw between erotica, which can be quite tasteful, and undesirable pornography. Violence on TV is a larger problem than than erotica on the Internet or theater.

Kristol is influential, no doubt about it. He is not finished:

"AND THEN, of course, there is foreign policy, the area of American politics where neoconservatism has recently been the focus of media attention. This is surprising since there is no set of neoconservative beliefs concerning foreign policy, only a set of attitudes derived from historical experience. (The favorite neoconservative text on foreign affairs, thanks to professors Leo Strauss of Chicago and Donald Kagan of Yale, is Thucydides on the Peloponnesian War.) These attitudes can be summarized in the following "theses": (as a Marxist would say) First, patriotism is a natural and healthy sentiment and should be encouraged by both private and public institutions. Precisely because we are a nation of immigrants, this is a powerful American sentiment. Second, world government is a terrible idea since it can lead to world tyranny. International institutions that point to an ultimate world government should be regarded with the deepest suspicion. Third, statesmen should, above all, have the ability to distinguish friends from enemies. This is not as easy as it sounds, as the history of the Cold War revealed. The number of intelligent men, who could not count the Soviet Union as an enemy, even though this was its own self-definition, was absolutely astonishing."

A key phrase here is: "... world government is a terrible idea. "Paul Wolfowitz interprets this: A democratic world government would not let America rule the world. See Neocon 101, where his stated objectives are to prevent any rival power from arising while safeguarding and promoting American values unilaterally when necessary. With all due respect for the many obvious differences, this manifesto differs little in substance from Hitler's Mein Kampf.

There is more:

"Finally, for a great power, the "national interest" is not a geographical term, except for fairly prosaic matters like trade and environmental regulation. A smaller nation might appropriately feel that its national interest begins and ends at its borders, so that its foreign policy is almost always in a defensive mode. A larger nation has more extensive interests. And large nations, whose identity is ideological, like the Soviet Union of yesteryear and the United States of today, inevitably have ideological interests in addition to more material concerns. Barring extraordinary events, the United States will always feel obliged to defend, if possible, a democratic nation under attack from non-democratic forces, external or internal. That is why it was in our national interest to come to the defense of France and Britain in World War II. That is why we feel it necessary to defend Israel today, when its survival is threatened. No complicated geopolitical calculations of national interest are necessary."

The fact is that America was isolationist in both national mood and policy -- until Pearl Harbor. The claim that we entered the war to defend European democracy denies these facts. Irving Kristol betrays his personal bias in this and the other passages. It makes good biblical stuff though -- for the Neocon bible.

James Burnham, a Trotsky admirer early on who later rejected Communism in practice, was also instrumental in the creation of the Neocon movement. Some regard him as the first Neocon. His biography by Daniel Kelly is well worth reading.

The Zionists went into Israel with key help from Britain and later France; even Italy signed the Balfour Declaration. Britain and France realized a quagmire was to come from their own earlier experiences in the Middle East. When they stopped their support, the Zionists captured the patronage of the gung-ho but naive Americans by parading as religious brethren and the underdog.

Neoconservatism fits comfortably with the agenda of the religious right. Each is basically conservative; they overlap. One is not the other -- but they are closely allied and are comfortable bedfellows. Neither would amount to much in American politics without the other and their Republican base. If you think these allies have not co-opted the Grand Old Party, think again. The party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt is no more.

We deal with Fundamentalism at some length elsewhere.
See: Fundamentalists in the White House for a British view; we provide a quote:

"Today the right-wing nuts' are not only running the Pentagon but also setting US imperialism's foreign policy agenda. Cheney is probably the most influential figure in the administration. Under Bush II, the hawks' programme is being implemented: a massive arms build up, a strategy of preemptive military intervention, and unwavering support for Sharon and the Israeli state..."

Our unwavering support for the Israeli state is what galls all of Islam, not just the radical mullahs. See Zionism and Humiliation. If these are not convincing, read " Terror in the Name of God" by Jessica Stern.

An undue number of Strauss disciples and followers are now in the upper echelons of the US government. We say undue because it is always dangerous to carry all of one's eggs in a single basket. Further, many commentators have pointed to flaws in their thinking. And we can as well.

That many events of the Bush Administration are consistent with Strauss's philosophy undoubtedly reflect the influence Paul Wolfowitz has on policy and indirectly of William Kristol and other neoconservatives.

Therefore Strauss and his disciples deserve study by all who wish to understand the US response to terrorism more deeply.

Modernity in the West is one of the primary problems confronting Islam. It does not reside in the Qur'an. It comes from "alien lands" in the Muslim eye. And that too is scary.


"Crisis of Our Time" defines the purpose of modernity as "the universal society, a society consisting of equal nations, each consisting of free and equal men and women, with all these nations to be fully developed as regards their power of production, thanks to science."

Kristol has narrowed this view. Strauss opposed modernity because human variation is not consistent with his narrow definition of modernism. He believed the mindless pursuit of science would be a societal dead-end. But modernity is more than that. It involves governance, arts, letters, economic systems, and technology, as they have evolved in the West; as well as the live and physical sciences. The latter add rationality to society. This, of course, threatens the fundamentalists, just as Galileo threatened "what's-his-name?" Pope Paul V.

If Strauss is right, modernity should not be happening. Human variation (inequality) has always been there. It seems to us that the flaw here is not the march of governance, arts, letters, economic systems, and technology that is easing the lot of humankind. Rather, we question the very idea that modernity has to have a purpose of any kind, at least that we can see, much less understand. The evolved intelligence of our species is merely expressing human curiosity and the desire to "live a little longer, happier, and safer." Modernity gives us that and we pursue living a little longer individually and collectively. It is natural, that is, fully resonant with nature. It is no less than evolutionary in the social sphere.

To go beyond that is to inquire into the nature of nature itself, God in other words. God, as defined by the Monotheists, raises the question: Whose god is the real God? There is also a troubling aspect of monotheism and that is its association with violence. Monotheism, not religion, is the root cause. The Hindus and Buddhists are quite peaceful compared with the Western monotheisms. See Religion and Violence for the evidence.

Authoritarianism, a relic of evolution, seems to be at the root of most violent conflict and may even give rise to the human need for a religion structured along authoritarian lines as the three monotheisms are. If so, we monotheists have a lot to learn from the Hindus, Buddhists, Taos, Confucians, and Shintos.

Nevertheless, Strauss had valuable insights.

From Jeet Heer (Boston Globe):

"Strauss believed that classical thinkers [Plato and Aristotle] had grasped a still vital truth: Inequality is an ineradicable aspect of the human condition."

Strauss was a keen student of politics and understood political action. He may well have been the most effective teacher of political philosophy of the 20th Century. Certainly his disciples provided much of the thinking that went into the neoconservative world view illustrated and pursued by the Bush Administration. Strauss was not so renowned in his own times, nor were his ideas generally accepted or admired. Like Abraham, Jesus, and Muhammed, his disciples spread the word.

Jeet Heer ( Boston Globe) relates an event while Strauss was at the University of Freiburg that directed his thinking toward conservative lines:

"Politically, the instability of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazism proved to Strauss that liberals were also weaklings in practical matters, unable to protect society from explosions of popular fanaticism. Furthermore, the rise of a new and more virulent strain of anti-Semitism demonstrated that assimilation had failed to solve the problems of German Jewry."

This occurred in the 1920s, especially in Germany, before anyone understood Authoritarianism as a strong social feature.

It was also before F. D. Roosevelt, an arch liberal, and liberal America, turned the tide that led to Hitler's demise. Russian missiles in Cuba were certainly a more immediate threat than Iraq ever was. No one is accusing Kennedy of having no backbone in his response to Khrushchev. Would the neoconservatives have invaded Cuba ? Perhaps. Would Khrushchev have pulled the nuclear trigger in response? Perhaps. Either way Kennedy came through and America went on to win the cold war. The defining feature of the Kennedy - Reagan period is that a dire threat can be removed without resort to hot war.

Strauss's conclusion about liberalism was too superficial. He can be excused for misreading a root cause of Hitler's success--it had little to do with political stripe and a great deal to do with his charisma, the human temperament of the individual German, and the personality of a nation still deeply wounded by the previous war.

We now know also that democracy cannot just spring into being. Stable institutions and an empowered middle class are required precursors for democracy; at least it has been so historically. Germany was ripe for the rise of Hitler and Extremism because the country was demoralized and the middle classes did not feel empowered.

Strauss was right about many things. Like Plato and Aristotle before him, he observed a fundamental truth: "Inequality is an ineradicable aspect of the human condition." This truth is indeed basic to the human condition; we are not clones of one another. Strauss builds on inequality, as Plato did, to conclude that democracy in and of itself is a losing system. Neoconservatives believe elitist systems work better, but that has never been shown. Rather, the very democracy they are now attacking happens to be the most successful society history has ever known in terms of improving the human condition.

In Plato's time, and for most of the time since, monarchy seemed to work better than democracy. However, the industrial revolution, market economies, expanded education, and the rise of the middle class changed all that. The American and European experiences of the last 100-200 years are vivid demonstrations of what democracy can do.

Only the elite were educated in Plato's time; the economy was agrarian. Elitism was sensible and logical. Never mind that absolute power is absolutely corrupting and that dynasties suffer from the same inequalities between generations that the rest of us do. Even so, the monarchs were generally more sophisticated than their subjects.

That too is no longer true in the modern world. The cream of the middle class is where the collective wisdom is. Modern democracies do a better job of tapping that wisdom more effectively than does more centralized governance. See Governance for some of the reasons why democracies empower people.

Strauss would not have it this way. From Jeet Heer again:

"For Strauss, the modern liberal project of using the fruits of science and the institutions of the state to spread happiness to all is intrinsically futile, self-defeating, and likely to end in terror and tyranny."

The fruits of science are what has given America such a predominant military power. The documents behind all that are known as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Federalist Papers. Nowhere in Europe, the Americas, and the Pacific rim are there signs that basic democracy and science will not work well together.

"The best regime is one in which the leaders govern moderately and prudently, curbing the passions of the mob while allowing a small philosophical elite to pursue the contemplative life of the mind."

Marxism espoused these very things, while providing no guard against tyranny. Never in history has a small clique that did govern moderately been able to perpetuate itself. This is just not the human condition. Absolute power does not corrupt so much; it is the authoritarian personality that corrupts. Democracy just happens to be the best counterweight developed so far.

"...While his teachings [Strauss] and books bewildered mainstream American social scientists and drew many hostile comments, students flocked to this odd and beguiling refugee scholar.

"Many would go on to become important academics in their own right, including the philosopher Stanley Rosen (a leading light at Boston University), the historian Harry Jaffa (who later wrote speeches for Barry Goldwater), and Allan Bloom, whose 1987 bestseller "The Closing of the American Mind" would-paradoxically-bring Strauss's thought to a mass audience."

"...Mindful of the collapse of Weimar Germany 's fragile democracy, Strauss was distrustful of American liberals; he believed they were too weak-minded and trusting to fight communism. In fact, Strauss believed that the United States shared certain ills with Soviet communism: Both societies put the material well-being of the masses ahead of the cultivation of virtues among an elite. But Strauss also saw America's constitutional government as the last, best hope for excellence in a modern world besotted with egalitarianism. Many of his students would go on to champion the US Constitution- with its separation of powers and its provision for a strong executive branch-as a political masterpiece that put limits on popular rule."

We agree that there should be limits on popular rule. Jeet Heer again:

"...Robert Goldwin became one of the first Straussians to work in practical politics when he joined the campaign of Charles Percy, a Republican candidate for the governorship of Illinois, in 1964. As it turned out, this migration of Straussians into the world of politics helped fill a vacuum in the Republican party, which, aside from free-market economists like Milton Friedman, had few well-educated intellectuals to fill policy-making positions. Once in Washington, Straussian conservatives could carry on their war against modern liberalism's moral relativism at home and naive pursuit of detente with the Soviet Union abroad."

Moral relativism is the idea that moral or ethical standards are relative to society, culture, or the individual. Many conservatives and religious leaders disparage relativism, while multiculturalists and pluralist liberals may endorse it. Again this is the Authoritarian Personality showing itself.
Our position is that liberalism is compatible with universal ethical standards. For liberals, it is not ethical to cause harm to others physically, emotionally, or economically in either the short or long term. A liberal society merely places greater responsibility on the individual to observe ethical standards than does a conservative one that proscribes behavior. Why does behavior need to be proscribed? Conservatives believe that individuals cannot be trusted! The great irony is that conservatives are much less inclined to proscribe the ethical standards of industry, or even government, than they are of the individual.

Where relativism comes in is when an option can cause both harm or good in any of the ways defined. Then the scale must be balanced toward the greater good. To be sure, it is sometimes tough to see the most ethical path. But the US Constitution puts the responsibility where it should be, on the individual. Relative to most recorded history, the Constitution is a very liberal concept and it works.

At the same time, the Constitution was never meant to be cast in concrete, subject to strict constructionism. It has a self-healing feature built in: it can be amended. It has had 27 amending additions and repeals. The Constitution moves with the times. Its wording is not meant to be taken literally. The Constitution was deliberately left indefinite to allow for not just changing circumstances but for alternate views within the scope of its intent. The First Amendment is a prime example of the efficacy of this approach. Strict constructionists would remove significant degrees of freedom Americans, and visitors from other shores, now enjoy.

Straussians in, or having influence on, recent Administrations include:

Paul Wolfowitz -- Deputy Secretary of Defense Bush II, Under Secretary of Defense Bush I, served Reagan.

Leon Kass -- Chairman of the President's Council on Bio-Ethics, Bush II

Douglas Feith -- Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Bush II, served Reagan.

Abram Shulsky -- Pentagon Disinformation Officer, Bush II, key member of Perle / Wolfowitz "war party," Defense Department official, Bush I.

William Kristol -- Founding Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Chief of Staff for Dan Quayl, Bush I, chaired the Project for Republican Future 1993-1994, served on Enron's board two years for $100,000, served Reagan in a senior position.

Gary Schmitt -- Executive Director of the Project for the New American Century.

Richard Perle -- Chairman of the Defense Policy Board, Secretary of Defense under Reagan, and managing partner in Trireme Partners, a company manufacturing technology for homeland security and defense

Andrew Sullivan -- Senior Editor at the "New Republic," an influential neoconservative.

Philip Gorman -- Official in Bush I administration

David Brooks -- Senior editor of The Weekly Standard and columnist for the New York Times.

Carnes Lord -- National Security Council advisor under Reagan

William Galston -- Deputy Domestic Policy adviser, Clinton

Irving Kristol -- Father of neoconservatism, father of William Crystal, favored dinner guest of Reagan

Norman Podhoretz -- Favored dinner guest for Reagan

Robert A. Goldwin -- Political theorist, Ford

See Neo Con Artists and Project For New American Century for more.

In addition to these, the New Yorker (According to New York Times, "Week in Review" 4 May 2003) reported a contingent of Straussians doing intelligence work for the Pentagon.

Finally, we note that a one-man majority in the Supreme Court "elected" Bush. That majority included a Justice (Thomas) who studied under Leo Strauss.

The greatest democracy the world has ever known may be leaning toward a Platonic style of governance. The elite would rule. History will judge the wisdom of any such move.

Mr. Bush delivered a speech at the annual dinner 2003 of the American Enterprise Institute that highlights his close ties to the neoconservative community even though we do not know if he considers himself to actually be one.
A part of his speech follows.

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 26, 2003

President's Remarks (For transcript)

"Thanks for the warm welcome. I'm proud to be with the scholars, and the friends, and the supporters of the American Enterprise Institute. I want to thank you for overlooking my dress code violation. (Laughter.) They were about to stop me at the door, but Irving Kristol said, "I know this guy, let him in." (Laughter.)"

"At the American Enterprise Institute, some of the finest minds in our nation are at work on some of the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds. I want to thank them for their service, but I also want to remind people that for 60 years, AEI scholars have made vital contributions to our country and to our government, and we are grateful for those contributions."

Irving Kristol is a Straussian as were a cohort of journalists, political philosophers and policy wonks in attendance. Irving is William Kristol's father and is widely considered to be a key founder of the neoconservative movement. Irving Kristol was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Bush on 9 July 2002. Irving Kristol was editor of Encounter, a monthly magazine covertly funded for a time by the CIA.

Tibor R. Machan ( adds:

"Irving Kristol presented to members of the Philadelphia Society a rather shocking notion: A country needs a war now and then to maintain its proper spirit, to acclimate its young to the requirements of national unity and loyalty. American conservatives, who tended to embrace George Washington's idea of a largely isolationist foreign policy for the United States, found this a very odd idea. Many of them, especially those of a strong libertarian bent, considered it an obscene notion to have wars for purposes of consciousness raising, inspiring our youth?"

Now why am I recalling this frightening talk from Irving Kristol over a decade ago? It is because President George W. Bush is more and more often being referred to as a neoconservative. It is not unlikely at all that one of the reasons for his eagerness to go to war against Iraq is akin to Irving Kristol's.

In the neoconservative view, invading Iraq appears to be defending the ram parts of neoconservatism. But going into Iraq has only made attacks on Americans more frequent. Worse, not only are the two main bad guys still at large doing their things, there are now literally hundreds if not thousands ready to take their places if they fall.

If this sounds incredible consider:

1992 " Defense Planning Guidance"
Draft Excerpts [from 13 years ago!]

"This story from PBS/Frontline's 'The War Behind Closed Doors' highlights excerpts from Paul Wolfowitz's then-controversial 'Defense Planning Guidance' draft. Since then, many of the goals in the draft have become the hallmarks of the Bush foreign policy doctrine."

From the Frontline page:

"The 46-page classified document circulated for several weeks at senior levels in the Pentagon. But controversy erupted after it was leaked to The New York Times and The Washington Post and the White House ordered then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to rewrite it."

Three primary points from the neocon draft:

  • "The number one objective of US post-Cold War political and military strategy should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower.
  • " Another major US objective should be to safeguard US interests and promote American values.
  • "If necessary, the United States must be prepared to take unilateral action."

Paul Wolfowitz wrote the report this was extracted from and he along with Dick Cheney and others are putting the third policy into effect. Wolfowitz is in the driver's seat for the Bush II strategy. These points go well beyond announced neoconservative doctrine.

For a brief review of how Neocon policies phrased by Wolfowitz in 1992 played out in the Pentagon, see: "Post-Cold-War Strategy"

1) Our most fundamental goal is to deter or defeat attack from whatever source. . .. The second goal is to strengthen and extend the system of defense arrangements that binds democratic and like-minded nations together in common defense against aggression, build habits of cooperation, avoid the renationalization of security policies, and provide security at lower costs and with lower risks for all. Our preference for a collective response to preclude threats or, if necessary, to deal with them is a key feature of our regional defense strategy. The third goal is to preclude any hostile power from dominating a region critical to our interests, and also thereby to strengthen the barriers against the re-emergence of a global threat to the interests of the U.S. and our allies.

2) One of the primary tasks we face today in shaping the future is carrying long standing alliances into the new era, and turning old enmities into new cooperative relationships. If we and other leading democracies continue to build a democratic security community, a much safer world is likely to emerge. If we act separately, many other problems could result.

3) Certain situations like the crisis leading to the Gulf War are likely to engender ad hoc coalitions. We should plan to maximize the value of such coalitions. This may include specialized roles for our forces as well as developing cooperative practices with others.

4) While the United States cannot become the world's policeman and assume responsibility for solving every international security problem, neither can we allow our critical interests to depend solely on international mechanisms that can be blocked by countries whose interests may be very different than our own.

Where our allies interests are directly affected, we must expect them to take an appropriate share of the responsibility, and in some cases play the leading role; but we maintain the capabilities for addressing selectively those security problems that threaten our own interests.

5) The U.S. has a significant stake in promoting democratic consolidation and peaceful relations between Russia, Ukraine and the other republics of the former Soviet Union.

6) In the Middle East and Persian Gulf, we seek to foster regional stability, deter aggression against our friends and interests in the region, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways and to the region's oil.

The United States is committed to the security of Israel and to maintaining the qualitative edge that is critical to Israel's security. Israel's confidence in its security and U.S.-Israel strategic cooperation contribute to the stability of the entire region, as demonstrated once again during the Persian Gulf War. At the same time, our assistance to our Arab friends to defend themselves against aggression also strengthens security throughout the region, including for Israel.

Our problems:

    Who decides when unilateral action is necessary?
    • Where could it stop? (does "could" have any limit? For reasonable people, perhaps. But what about unreasonable people or those with hang-ups already in government or sitting in the courts?)
      • Once the US has all other nations subjugated or intimidated, what's next?
        • The democracy we are so proud of will not exist among nations. (Is it democratic for one nation to dictate to all others?)
        • The will of the people will ultimately mean nothing.
        • The guy with his finger on the only nuclear trigger will have absolute power while history and psychology illustrate precedents that sooner or later s/he would use it to establish a permanent family dynasty on this earth. See Nuclear Terror and companion pieces.
    • What checks and balances will there be on the US or its president?
      • What checks and balances can there be when he alone has the only meaningful gun on earth in his empire? (The Constitution, one would answer, but it did not prevent war in Iraq.)
    • What assurance can there be that a despot cannot seize absolute power?
      • A party electing 60% of the senators, 51% of the House of Representatives and the president can then impeach the Supreme Court and appoint their own who then turn the Constitution into an opposite meaning where an elite family and its cohorts can rule the world however it pleases. This elite family would be the electoral college and the government all at once, using that section of the Constitution. Conflict of interest? Not by their definition: "If you vote for anyone else, it is a conflict of interest." And indeed it would be unless you love to spend time in the oubliette.
    • There is no reference to peace on earth as a desireable goal.
    • There is no acknowledgement that the biosphere is limited and must be preserved.
    • There is mention of Middle Eastern Oil as being in the American interest.

Being handsome, photogenic and a charismatic grabber of photo-ops does not guarantee character, smarts or even godliness. We shudder to think what might happen if one party were able to fill 2/3 of the seats in Congress, and own the White House. The extreme left can be as dangerous as the extreme right in such an event.

Maybe it is fortunate that leaders are not often wise--the unwise ones tend to trip over themselves, as they did in Vietnam and Iraq. Nevertheless the Authoritarians among us would vote for and support those achieving power simply because they are "authority figures" to be obeyed at all cost.

The very idea of democracy faces a great danger captured by a voice from the past:

"What luck for rulers that men do not think..."

"The great masses of the people... will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one."
Adolf Hitler

A contemporary of Hitler also had an opinion:

"As long as nations demand unrestricted sovereignty we shall be faced with still bigger wars, fought with bigger and technologically more advanced weapons."
Albert Einstein

These arguments would be brushed aside as irrelevant by the "all-knowing" neoconservatives, just as the Mitchell Report was by the Bush Administration. Where in the word "irrelevant" is there any assurance that human nature will not prevail and produce the results we fear? Madison and Jefferson knew well how to deal with these issues. In this enlightened age, do we? See: Activism.

Hitler was not alone in being able to spin a big lie. Some recent examples include: Iraq has WMD; Hussein and bin Laden are collaborating; the Middle East will fall like a row of dominoes.

Neoconservatism is not about religion, but as practiced by Bush, the line between religion and the State is dangerously blurring. Religious Fundamentalism is benefiting hugely; so is the idea of political Extremism in the guise of fighting terror.

Emphasizing God polarizes attitudes. Consider the school-ground pledge:

    "I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

And our coinage:

    "In God we trust."

Contrast these with:

    "There is no God but Allah" and "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

These statements comprise a basic problem. All sides in this conflict believe they are on God's side or that God is on theirs. During times beginning with the Old Testament and continuing through the New Testament to the Qur'an, God has been and is still being invoked to:

  • provide a common set of moral (and ethical) directives
  • govern the laity in "righteousness"
  • expand its own sphere of influence
  • control and/or punish doubters
  • justify inquisitions
  • motivate crusades (terrorism or the national defense -- opposite names of the same violence.)

Only the first two are legitimate. it is hr latter four that has for two millennia kept the world at war, Only they are consistent with the modern Western concept of freedom expressed by the First Amendment. See God for more.

In short, each human defines his/her God, even as any real God is beyond knowing. This is more than history; it is nature.

Invading Iraq provided latitude for triumphalism. Funny thing about that: the folks on flight 97 needed no patriotic prepping. Neither did the New York Fire Department.

The Bush administration has defined a new "type" of patriotism in true Authoritarian either/or style:

"People who believe us and march to our drum beat are patriots; all others are traitors." 9/11 and Afghanistan brought the US and its allies closer together. War in Iraq did the opposite. Not only did we lose allies, we lost some national coherency, and for good reason. Months after Hussein's statue toppled, there still is no evidence of any threat. The holocaust Bush trumpeted as "coming soon if we do not act" looks so far to have been simply a mirage. A holocaust could not have been imminent. Today's "terrorism" (that is beginning to turn into guerilla warfare in Iraq ) could well become tomorrow's quagmire.

To research neoconservatism further:

To rule ourselves, we must first think for ourselves, then vote. We are not a mindless people; however, we are often:

  • complacent
  • ignorant of vital trends shaping our futures
  • willing to just go with the flow--unmotivated even to vote
  • in denial

These are the real enemies of democracy, not Islam, not terrorism, not neoconservatism.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe! For example an item from The Nation:

"Take the lead item from syndicated gossip columnist Liz Smith: "The very conservative columnist Charley Reese of the Orlando Sentinel is advising his readers to 'Vote for a Man, Not a Puppet.' Charley says if we vote for President Bush's re-election, we'll really be voting for 'the architects of war--Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the rest of that cabal of neoconservative ideologues and their corporate backers.' (Why did he leave John Ashcroft off this list?) Reese now sees George Bush, the man he joyfully voted for in 2000, as an 'empty suit who is manipulated by the people in his administration.' Reese adds this damning phrase: 'Bush has the most dangerously simplistic view of the world of any president in my memory.'"


Reggie wrote:

"People don't know. They have no clue as to who is formulating America's foreign policy. They have some weird vision of George Bush actually understanding global history....

Here's a great introduction into the faces of the NeoCons in Washington, and links to PNAC. The media has TOTALLY ignored any PNAC involvement by those who are most powerful today.... "

Posted by RoadToPeace on Friday, October 28, 2005 at 19:34:18

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