A Favor Regarding Ambassador John Bolton?


john bolton 300.jpg
On Tuesday, November 13, I’m going to be on a plane to Beijing, so I can’t attend the American Enterprise Institute book event featuring the recess-appointed former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton speaking on his new memoir, Surrender is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations.
Committee on the Present Danger Honorary Co-Chairs and Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) will serve as the “discussants”. I would have thought that someone like Lincoln Chafee, Chuck Hagel, Richard Lugar, or even George Voinovich would have made for a more interesting event, but I have to give credit to AEI for lining up two incumbent Senators as the Ambassador’s back up chorus.
Theoretically, Bolton should have thanked me in the acknowledgments of his book for helping to build up his brand name. When I first approached a couple of Senators about blocking his confirmation, the response I got was “John Bolton is an obscure bureaucrat going for a job no one cares about. Before we can do anything, there has to be political space for it. You need to turn Bolton into a household name to do this and win.”
I think Bolton was always better known than early skeptics of this battle thought, but those of us opposed to his confirmation for the United Nations post did play by the rules of our democracy in stopping him and in the process did elevate his profile — and now his book sales as well.
But I can’t be there — but I’d love a signed copy of the book.
If anyone goes and has the temerity to ask Ambassador Bolton to sign a book to “Steve Clemons”, I’d be most grateful and am happy to reimburse. I hope that he’s diplomatic enough to chuckle about the request — but then again, he may slam the book and throw it across the room.
Actually I think he’ll chuckle. But whatever may happen, be respectful if acting on my behalf.
— Steve Clemons
Ed. Note: Thanks to 007 for the alert about the AEI event.


16 comments on “A Favor Regarding Ambassador John Bolton?

  1. Kathleen says:

    arthrudecco… well I focused on Kirkpatrick’s difference of opinion with Revoltin Bolton’s on the UN, the Rule of Law and the use of Pre-Emptive Strike as self defense, especially since Revoltin Bolton claims that Kirkpatrick is a mentor of his. He must have been playing hooky on that chapter.


  2. arthurdecco says:

    What jumped out to me about this piece, Kathleen was Gerson’s shameless self-promotion. The facts, such as they were, were buried under his hubris.
    I understand your interest in the story and its consequences – I share them – but not your apparent faith in Gerson’s interpretation of it, is all. I’d be happier reading someone else’s less self-interested take on what went down.


  3. Kathleen says:

    arthrudecco… the main pint of this piece is it’s opposition to pre-emptive war as a claim of self defense, unlike Revoltin Bolton’s position on this issue.
    I was particularly interested in this piece because I strongly support the UN and the UNCHR and particpated in the regular sessions of the UNCHR and its SubCommission and Working Groups in Geneva from 1987-1991. I beat the US on the issue of the forced relocation of Hopi and Navajo, with the “behind the scenes” help of Canada’s former Ambassador Yvan Bealne, one of the founders of the UNCHR. I happen to think the UNCHR was very effective, which is why Revoltin Bolton and his cadre of NeoNutzis wanted it crushed.
    Incidentally, Saddam did have WMD’s at one point. As Ted Koppel said, “We knew this because we still had the receipts”.


  4. JonU says:

    Excuse me… *Scott* Paul.
    Too much Ron Paul chatter in the blogs lately, I guess. 😉


  5. JonU says:

    You’re impressed that Lieberman and Kyl are attending an AEI event propping up a failed ultra-conservative pseudo-intellectual? I’m guessing when AEI went to the Senate and asked for volunteers, Joe and Jon’s hands shot into the air at something approaching the speed of light, followed immediately by their duo of “ooooh me me me me me me”.
    And in the off-topic department, specifically for Ron “It Can’t Possibly Be About The Oil” Paul:


  6. arthurdecco says:

    “Still, unilateral implementation of a valid UN security council ceasefire resolution, which clearly had been breached, is a far cry from mere unilateral resort to force.” Allen Gerson, by way of Kathleen
    What a steaming pile of self-serving horse poo delivered by yet another of the despicable word-parsing, meaning-bending war criminals that infest this horror. If Gerson had a moral center, he’d hari-kari himself for his contemptible contribution to this criminal charade instead of patting himself on the back for his cleverness and connections. This piece reeks of shameless self-promotion – it’s his very own infomercial.
    I don’t believe the UN resolution was breached. Saddam was allowing the UN inspectors to do their work. Refer to Scott Ritter’s published reportage on this for the truth.


  7. Kathleen says:

    First sentence should read,
    “As Congress debates”
    sorry about that.


  8. Kathleen says:

    Well, I see my comments on Revoltin Bolton didn’t register, including my Gravel post.
    A view of the UN that differs with Bolton’s.
    Not All Conservatives Hate The UN
    2003, Allan Gerson went to Geneva with his mentor, Jeane Kirkpatrick, to make the US case to the UN over Iraq. Today he has grave reservations over how that affected international law and the UN charter in the future
    s debates what happens next in Iraq, it’s worth thinking about a different question that the Iraq war poses for our future: has it rendered the United Nations charter – specifically, those provisions that seek to define the terms on which a nation or group of nations may launch a war – an anachronism?
    Some current and former Bush administration officials would likely hope so. But not all conservatives agree. Some on the right are aware of the complexities and potential problems that the Iraq precedent could create in the future if other nations mount arguments for war similar to those that the United States made in 2002 and early 2003.
    This is a dilemma, in fact, that the White House was forced to confront just before hostilities commenced, when the UN Commission on Human Rights considered resolutions on Iraq at a meeting in Geneva. The arguments for the war made there were very different indeed from the arguments administration officials were making to the American people at the time. I know, because with my mentor, ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, I helped make them.
    Kirkpatrick’s reservations about the Iraq war have become well known since her death. But in March 2003, when she was asked to represent the Bush administration as its chief delegate (and she asked me to accompany her), they were known only to me and a handful of others. Before the commission, we hit upon a still little-noticed line of reasoning that staved off opposition to the war, arguing that, in UN terms, the war could be seen as the termination of a cease-fire dating to the end of the Gulf War, justified because Saddam Hussein’s Iraq did not live up to its obligations under the pertinent UN security council resolution that brought the war to a close through a detailed ceasefire arrangement.
    We did the job the administration sent us to Geneva to do. But Kirkpatrick was deeply concerned about international law and the ongoing viability of the UN Charter, and I remain so.
    The UNCHR was first established in 1946 as an adjunct to the United Nations to deal with human rights abuses. For many years, the commission, comprised of 53 member states, proved a sleepy hollow for diplomats interested in some down time in Geneva and for those earnestly concerned about human rights. Over the years, the commission’s credibility rose and fell, hitting a nadir when Libya was named its head in January 2003.
    Today, looking back at the course of the Iraq war, I now more fully appreciate how portentous was the Geneva meeting in which I participated along with Kirkpatrick. She asked me to come along as her senior counsel – a case of d骠 vu, it seemed, a bringing together of the old team when she had served as US ambassador to the United Nations from 1981 – 1985, when I was the senior counsel to the US mission to the UN.
    We had handled all of the great issues of the cold war – the Soviet shootdown of Korean Airliner 007; the wars by proxy, stretching from the Middle East to Latin America. But I wasn’t anxious to resume these duties. Would not, I asked myself, going to the UNCHR prove anticlimactic, with war essentially a forgone conclusion at that point? Would I really want to participate in a forum on human rights that had decided to choose Libya as its chairman? Having entered a busy phase of private law practice, I was hardly jumping to take the position and spend one or more months away from home.
    In the end, I took the job because Jeane asked me to go and I wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to be with her at another diplomatic session. Besides, Geneva sounded pleasant enough in March.
    And so, having embarked upon the enterprise, I attended endless briefings at the State Department spelling out in voluminous notebooks the US position on various human-rights issues. Guantᮡmo and questions surrounding the detention and abuse of prisoners under relevant international conventions featured most prominently. But this preparation, in fact, left me totally unprepared for what was to actually follow. As it turned out, the commission was to become a major theatre of war, seeking in fact to nip the invasion at the outset by delegitimising it.
    We arrived just a few days before the US invasion on March 20, 2003. Massive demonstrations surrounded the old League of Nations buildings where the commission was holding its meetings, and the US mission to the commission was heavily barricaded by army and police. The police cars accompanying the limousines of the diplomatic high brass of Europe and elsewhere seemed omnipresent. The foreign minister of Germany, Joschka Fischer, had come, and so too had Dominique de Villepin, foreign minister of France, both directly from their appearances at the UN in New York where they had stood in opposition to the impending war.
    As soon as I reported for duty, I learned that the first item on the agenda was not a human rights issue at all – at least not in the technically legal sense. Rather, it was one dealing with aggression – that is, the unlawful use of force, even though such matters are prescribed by international law and the UN Charter to be within the exclusive province of the UN security council. It appeared that the Arab League – a conglomerate representing all 21 Arab states – had been meeting in Cairo when the war broke out, and had quickly voted in favor of an immediate call for a ceasefire. Of course, a ceasefire at that time would have been seen as a victory for Saddam and defeat for the US. Perhaps the Arab League thought the call for a ceasefire was a meaningless exercise. No one was likely to pay attention to it, but it could be used to earn points at home among local constituents.
    But then Syria, in conjunction with Cuba, hit upon a bright idea. Not content to allow the Arab League’s call for a ceasefire to languish in the dustbins of Cairo, it decided to dress it up and bring it before the UNCHR. Of course, from a purely logical perspective, if one wanted to extrapolate on the meaning of “human rights,” it could surely be said to encompass freedom from war. That, however, was certainly not the intention of the framers of the UN charter. They saw a clear divide between use of force and maintenance of peace issues, which were left expressly under the exclusive jurisdiction of the security council. There, anyone of the five permanent members (Russia, US, China, France, UK) could exercise its right of veto and prevent a resolution from being passed. The commission, however, was not representative of all the UN’s member states and was a forum which neither the United States nor any of the other five major powers had any veto rights. Moreover, its ambit was limited to recommendations about improvements of human rights situations in various countries.
    Ignoring this context, Syria and Cuba nevertheless pushed to condemn the US military action in Iraq. In this effort, it quickly picked up the support of other countries on the commission: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malaysia, Libya, Sudan, Burkina Faso and, most surprisingly, Russia, which since the end of the cold war had, ostensibly, tried to stake out a position of non-confrontation with the United States.
    Working with these new allies, Syria and Cuba introduced a resolution before the UNCHR on March 26, 2003 calling for a special emergency session to consider “Human Rights and Humanitarian Consequences of the Military Action Against Iraq”. Notwithstanding its title, the operative paragraphs of the proposed resolution made clear that its real aim was not consideration of human rights or humanitarian consequences. Rather, what it had in mind was condemnation of the US action that stopped just short of deeming it aggression. The US invasion was condemned as “clearly in violation of the principles of international law and the UN charter.” Accordingly, the Syria-Cuba resolution called for “an immediate end to the unilateral military action against Iraq”.
    Kirkpatrick and I had got word of the intended Syria-Cuba resolution several days earlier. Our marching orders from the state department were light on any procedural challenge to the resolution as going beyond the authority of the commission, but instead focused on defending the merits of the US action as justifiable on the grounds that Iraq was engaged in producing and hiding weapons of mass destruction and were ready to export them to terrorist groups like al-Qaida. As Condoleezza Rice had argued in a 2000 Foreign Affairs piece, under these circumstances, the US could engage in “pre-emptive war”.
    This was not a position that Kirkpatrick was prepared to advance, a fact revealed for the first time in her recently and posthumously published book, Making War to Keep Peace. Indeed, for years at the United Nations she had assiduously taken the position that the inherent right of self-defence as defined in article 51 of the UN charter did not encompass a right of pre-emptive war.
    Still, she realised the gravity of allowing the Syria-Cuba resolution to pass. “Had such a resolution passed,” she wrote, “it would effectively have been a triumph for Saddam and a potential diplomatic disaster for the United States.” This put her in a conundrum. For, she wrote: “I had grave reservations when George Bush made the decision to invade Iraq, and I was privately critical of the Bush administration’s argument for the use of military force for pre-emptive self-defence. But, I was not critical of the Bush administration’s lawful purpose and could confidently confirm our legal rights when I was tasked to block the resolution whose purpose and substance belonged before the UN security council.”
    Moreover, Kirkpatrick had a more pragmatic concern to contend with. She made clear to the state department that its proposed argument in favour of pre-emptive war: “simply won’t sell; no one will buy it.” Instead, we proposed an entirely different justification for the US intervention in Iraq: that the United States was not really going to war. Rather, we were simply implementing UN security council resolution 687 of 1991, which had imposed not a formal termination to the Gulf war but a ceasefire, on the express condition that Iraq scrupulously adhere to certain terms, the most important of which was allowance of unhampered access by UN inspection teams.
    Clearly, this was repeatedly violated by Iraq, putting it in material breach of the UN ceasefire arrangement. Thus, Kirkpatrick concluded, “the case I presented to the international community in Geneva in March of 2003, at the bequest of the Bush administration was an argument based on the rule of law, not an argument on behalf of the Bush administration’s assertion of its right to pre-emptive action of self-defence”. And, she added pointedly: “This distinction was not lost on the world community.”
    The argument in favour of that distinction helped carry the day in Geneva. Once the pre-emptive self-defence argument was abandoned, countries that were slated not to vote with the United States stood firmly with us. Members of the EU backed the United States, including Germany and France, and voted against the resolution. Thailand, despite pressure from the Asian block, voted against the resolution. In Africa, Cameroon and Uganda broke ranks with the African Union to vote nay. Other African states like Senegal, Togo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo abstained, while Swaziland and Sierra Leone decided to absent themselves from the vote.
    Among those nations on the fence, only Saudi Arabia cast a surprise vote in favor of the resolution. The US delegation anticipated that Saudi Arabia, which of course would be directly impacted by a Saddam Hussein victory in Iraq, would abstain, but instead it joined its Arab brethren on the commission – Algeria, Bahrain, Libya and Syria – in voting yea.
    The final tally was: 25 against, 18 in favour, 17 abstentions; hardly what we had expected. It was a big victory for legitimising the war effort. Had it gone the other way, the United States would have been swimming upstream against an immediate condemnation and call for a ceasefire by a majority of the UNCHR. But the event, important as it was, went unnoticed in the US press.
    However, the distinction that carried the day in Geneva was lost on the White House. In its arguments to Congress, the rule of law position (violation of a ceasefire) seemed to pale against reassertion of a unilateral right of pre-emptive self defence. Again, the legitimacy of the war hinged on an amalgam of arguments dealing with the imminence of the WMD threat and the right to pre-eminent self-defence in those circumstances, coupled with the independent and ancillary right of the promotion of democracy.
    What does this mean for the future? In the changing American political climate, where a Democratic presidential victory in 2008 seems highly likely, both of the leading Democratic contenders, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, have spoken, in varying degrees, of championing the rule of law. The rule of law in international affairs requires nothing less than a recommitment to America’s past, as a champion of the UN Charter. To be sure, any administration can put its own spin or construe that document as it wishes.
    Nevertheless, a commitment to the rule of law imposes parameters. It might be useful to recall that the second provision of the UN charter, article 1.2, speaks of sovereign equality among all of the member states of the United Nations. In other words, pushing for democratic reform through encouragement of armed force was never something that the founding fathers of the UN system – Roosevelt, Churchill or Stalin – had in mind. Nor did they have in mind anything resembling pre-emptive war. War was seen as a last resort. Some may argue that Kirkpatrick should have spoken up earlier. But that argument should not detract from the philosophical and moral underpinnings of what she has written, only to see the light of day after her death.
    Had the Bush administration chosen to focus its argument on the narrower ground of the force of the UN security council resolutions that imposed a ceasefire on the first Iraq war, rather than having broached the more expansive pre-emptive war doctrine, would the outcome have been different?
    Certainly it would have had a less galvanising effect on the American public, as the self-defence argument was destined to provoke a greater sense of urgency playing to fears of terrorism. Fear, however, seemed to turn the US into a vigilante, which likely led to the later excesses and poor decisions that have plagued the war. Had the argument we fashioned in Geneva been presented, would the war effort have been conducted with more prudence?
    Obviously, a police action to enforce a UN resolution doesn’t sound nearly as pressing as a self-defence mission, but that is precisely why it creates a different climate or mindset among the proponents. Congress would likely have supported such a mission on a more sustained basis linked to enhancement of global security, rather than as an expanded self-defence doctrine. In turn this would likely have led to more global support from our allies and, perhaps, ultimately, to a better-planned and better-executed operation.
    Whatever one’s views of Kirkpatrick’s legacy, it would be hard to ignore the fact that she chose to champion the rule of law, albeit as the United States chooses to interpret it. Her concern was with a way of life centered on the rights, privileges and obligations inscribed by law, with the use of force a last resort. Thus in Geneva in 2003, she supported President Bush’s entry into war in Iraq by reliance on the UN S security council resolution ending the original Iraq war, determined to give it teeth, while leaving open the question of whether unilateral implementation of the resolution was the best way to go forward, or even permissible. Still, unilateral implementation of a valid UN security council ceasefire resolution, which clearly had been breached, is a far cry from mere unilateral resort to force. She also steered clear in Geneva of making any argument that America (or any other nation) had a right to intervene for the sake of supporting democracy.
    Her posthumously published volume, Making War to Keep Peace, concludes with the following ringing phrases: “We must remember that historic conflicts between enemies can be won on moral force, without firing a single bullet or missile; that cultural, market, political, and perhaps religious forces can be far more transformative in areas of the world where chaos and violence reign; and that America can contribute to the building of nations by any and all of these means – while preserving our military and reserving our sovereign right to wage war to maintain true peace.” Ironically, having helped through the implementation of a more palatable and internationally accepted rationale to legitimise the Iraq war and surmount the immediate diplomatic hurdles, that very rationale was soon thereafter ignored.
    Conservatism, at its core, is about carefulness, prudence and restraint – a far cry from the banner of those who rushed to war in Iraq, and sought to legitimise it by a rationale that has had far reaching consequences beyond that of the Iraq war.
    · Allen Gerson was formerly chief counsel to the US delegation to the United Nations and deputy assistant attorney general for legal counsel, and counselor for international affairs with the US department of justice. He is now the Chairman of AG International Law PLLC, which specialises in holding governments accountable for complicity in gross human rights abuses and unlawful expropriation of property.


  9. Kathleen says:

    Will someone please stick a pin in Revoltin Bolton’s distended ego? His sense of self importance is toxic. Warning tho, wear a gas mask.
    Meanwhile, Warmongers and Pavlovian Patriots are up to their usual back room schemes to rush us into war with Iran…
    The Huffington Post: Mike Gravel
    Why NBC and the DNC Want Me Out of the Debates
    Posted October 22,2007
    In the past year, I have attended 11 national Democratic debates of which two were sponsored by corporate media giant NBC. However, last week, the network suddenly conjured up arbitrary polling and fundraising requirements specifically designed to exclude me. None of the previous debates I attended held such requirements.
    When my staff called NBC directly to find out why I was now barred from attending, Chuck Todd, NBC news’ political director, told us that there were three criteria we did not meet, namely that I had not campaigned in New Hampshire and/or Iowa at least 14 times in the past year, that I was not polling at 5% and that I hadn’t raised $1 million.
    It is abundantly clear that NBC just wants me out of the race. This was made evident by the fact that NBC did not even inform me of its arbitrary criteria before making the decision to stifle my campaign. NBC’s Todd waited until 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 19, to inform my staff that I was not invited to the Oct. 30 debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia.
    Since I announced my candidacy for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States on April 17, 2006, I have certainly traveled to New Hampshire and Iowa at least 14 times. And, according to a recent CNN poll, I am tied with Joe Biden, Dennis Kucinich and Chris Dodd.
    NBC claims I haven’t raised enough money to qualify. I’m proud of the fact that I don’t collect millions from special interests (or fugitives like Norman Hsu). The reason why Senator Hillary Clinton seems to have a fundraising scandal every month is because money has corrupted our democracy. By stifling my voice on the basis of fundraising dollars, NBC is reinforcing the power of money over our national political discussion and our freedom.
    But why has NBC suddenly come up with “requirements” designed to exclude me from the debate?
    NBC’s decision is proof that our corporate media do not want a genuine debate over our impending war with Iran. During the last debate I was the only one to aggressively confront Senator Clinton over her vote to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Had I not brought up the subject, seasoned NBC commentator Tim Russert, the moderator of the Sept. 26 debate, would not have even asked about it.
    Most Americans still don’t appreciate the gravity of that vote and they don’t understand that our government is intentionally raising roadblocks to diplomacy. Corporate media have once again failed to investigate how Bush and a compliant congress have set us on the warpath. Instead the media simply parrots the demonization of Iranian President Ahmadinejad and the administration’s unproven accusations against Iran. NBC and the other corporate media have jumped on the war bandwagon and they are determined to shut up anyone who tries to stop it.
    The fact that NBC is owned by General Electric, one of the world’s leading military contractors, is frightening and certainly smacks of censorship directed at the most outspoken critic of the influence that the military-industrial complex holds over this great nation. In the past decade, GE has benefited financially from the global war on terrorism and currently holds almost $2 billion in military contracts.
    So I ask that anyone, who is as concerned as I am about the power of the mainstream media and the military-industrial complex, speak out in support of my campaign today. And, even if you support another candidate, surely you understand the implications of NBC’s decision for our democracy and the future peace and security of our nation.
    And since the powers that be now require that I raise $1 million in order to participate in the debates, please make a donation to my campaign. Unlike my fellow candidates, I am not focused on raising million of dollars; I am focused on fixing representative government. Help us reach that arbitrary threshold, and I will continue to fight for democracy and peace.
    Senator Mike Gravel
    For those who might want to give Chuck Todd and GE a chunk of their mind….
    Since Senator Gravel received sufficient contributions to qualify for Federal matching funds, this seems like a particularly spurious reason for excluding him from the upcoming debates on Oct. 30th.


  10. Paul says:

    Steve — AEI doesn’t recognize that there’s any ground for disagrement on war issues. Odd for an organization that’s supposed to be devoted to free enterprise.


  11. john somer says:

    Why don’t you give him his full title “Recess Ambassador” ?


  12. dan says:

    Uh Oh, Bolton is pressuring the GOP to reject the North Korean nuke deal. WTF !


  13. easy e says:

    Leo Strauss’ Philosophy of Deception
    By Jim Lobe, AlterNet
    Posted on May 19, 2003, Printed on October 22, 2007
    What would you do if you wanted to topple Saddam Hussein, but your intelligence agencies couldn’t find the evidence to justify a war?
    A follower of Leo Strauss may just hire the “right” kind of men to get the job done ? people with the intellect, acuity, and, if necessary, the political commitment, polemical skills, and, above all, the imagination to find the evidence that career intelligence officers could not detect.
    The “right” man for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, suggests Seymour Hersh in his recent New Yorker article entitled ‘Selective Intelligence,’ was Abram Shulsky, director of the Office of Special Plans (OSP) ? an agency created specifically to find the evidence of WMDs and/or links with Al Qaeda, piece it together, and clinch the case for the invasion of Iraq.
    Like Wolfowitz, Shulsky is a student of an obscure German Jewish political philosopher named Leo Strauss who arrived in the United States in 1938. Strauss taught at several major universities, including Wolfowitz and Shulsky’s alma mater, the University of Chicago, before his death in 1973.
    Strauss is a popular figure among the neoconservatives. Adherents of his ideas include prominent figures both within and outside the administration. They include ‘Weekly Standard’ editor William Kristol; his father and indeed the godfather of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol; the new Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone, a number of senior fellows at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) (home to former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle and Lynne Cheney), and Gary Schmitt, the director of the influential Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which is chaired by Kristol the Younger.
    Strauss’ philosophy is hardly incidental to the strategy and mindset adopted by these men ? as is obvious in Shulsky’s 1999 essay titled “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous)” (in Greek philosophy the term nous denotes the highest form of rationality). As Hersh notes in his article, Shulsky and his co-author Schmitt “criticize America’s intelligence community for its failure to appreciate the duplicitous nature of the regimes it deals with, its susceptibility to social-science notions of proof, and its inability to cope with deliberate concealment.” They argued that Strauss’s idea of hidden meaning, “alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception.”
    Rule One: Deception
    It’s hardly surprising then why Strauss is so popular in an administration obsessed with secrecy, especially when it comes to matters of foreign policy. Not only did Strauss have few qualms about using deception in politics, he saw it as a necessity. While professing deep respect for American democracy, Strauss believed that societies should be hierarchical ? divided between an elite who should lead, and the masses who should follow. But unlike fellow elitists like Plato, he was less concerned with the moral character of these leaders. According to Shadia Drury, who teaches politics at the University of Calgary, Strauss believed that “those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right ? the right of the superior to rule over the inferior.”
    This dichotomy requires “perpetual deception” between the rulers and the ruled, according to Drury. Robert Locke, another Strauss analyst says,”The people are told what they need to know and no more.” While the elite few are capable of absorbing the absence of any moral truth, Strauss thought, the masses could not cope. If exposed to the absence of absolute truth, they would quickly fall into nihilism or anarchy, according to Drury, author of ‘Leo Strauss and the American Right’ (St. Martin’s 1999).
    Second Principle: Power of Religion
    According to Drury, Strauss had a “huge contempt” for secular democracy. Nazism, he believed, was a nihilistic reaction to the irreligious and liberal nature of the Weimar Republic. Among other neoconservatives, Irving Kristol has long argued for a much greater role for religion in the public sphere, even suggesting that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic made a major mistake by insisting on the separation of church and state. And why? Because Strauss viewed religion as absolutely essential in order to impose moral law on the masses who otherwise would be out of control.
    At the same time, he stressed that religion was for the masses alone; the rulers need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion were “a pious fraud.” As Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason magazine points out, “Neoconservatives are pro-religion even though they themselves may not be believers.”
    “Secular society in their view is the worst possible thing,” Drury says, because it leads to individualism, liberalism, and relativism, precisely those traits that may promote dissent that in turn could dangerously weaken society’s ability to cope with external threats. Bailey argues that it is this firm belief in the political utility of religion as an “opiate of the masses” that helps explain why secular Jews like Kristol in ‘Commentary’ magazine and other neoconservative journals have allied themselves with the Christian Right and even taken on Darwin’s theory of evolution.
    Third Principle: Aggressive Nationalism
    Like Thomas Hobbes, Strauss believed that the inherently aggressive nature of human beings could only be restrained by a powerful nationalistic state. “Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed,” he once wrote. “Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united ? and they can only be united against other people.”
    Not surprisingly, Strauss’ attitude toward foreign policy was distinctly Machiavellian. “Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat,” Drury wrote in her book. “Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured (emphases added).”
    “Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in,” says Drury. The idea easily translates into, in her words, an “aggressive, belligerent foreign policy,” of the kind that has been advocated by neocon groups like PNAC and AEI scholars ? not to mention Wolfowitz and other administration hawks who have called for a world order dominated by U.S. military power. Strauss’ neoconservative students see foreign policy as a means to fulfill a “national destiny” ? as Irving Kristol defined it already in 1983 ? that goes far beyond the narrow confines of a ” myopic national security.”
    As to what a Straussian world order might look like, the analogy was best captured by the philosopher himself in one of his ? and student Allen Bloom’s ? many allusions to Gulliver’s Travels. In Drury’s words, “When Lilliput 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.”
    The image encapsulates the neoconservative vision of the United States’ relationship with the rest of the world ? as well as the relationship between their relationship as a ruling elite with the masses. “They really have no use for liberalism and democracy, but they’re conquering the world in the name of liberalism and democracy,” Drury says.


  14. Punchy says:

    All I’ve seen about Bolton is what an insufferable prick he was while on the Daily Show. His pomposity, arrogance, and blowhard-style of discourse leads me believe he’ll refuse to sign in Mr. Clemons’ name. Perhaps he’s changed in 3 months. Nah, I doubt it.


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