Mar 6, 2007

Excellent article on Eliot Cohen

While you've all been rushing to condemn or defend Ann Coulter, this very interesting piece of news seems to have slipped by with minimal coverage. I remember hearing it, in the passing, but never looked deeper (much to my discredit).

Another Day in the Empire (with whom I do disagree on many issues, but have total common ground on when it comes to Neo-Cons) explains, giving a good run down of the basics of the Neo-Con philosophy for those who don't know much about that side of it.

Here is some of the more interesting stuff:

“It is not hyperbole to say that Cohen is as extremist a neoconservative and warmonger as it gets,” writes Glenn Greenwald for Salon. “Unlike the more political neoconservatives, who are very careful about what they say and go to great lengths to conceal their ultimate goals, Cohen has been an academic and thus more explicit about the theoretical underpinnings of his worldview. “We are in the middle of World War IV,” Greenwald summarizes Cohen’s “philosophy,” more accurately a dangerous psychopathic obsession. “We have numerous countries against whom we must wage war. The highest strategic priority is to change the government of Iran, with whom we can never negotiate. And the ultimate goal is to rule the world with our military force as the Supreme Imperial Power.”

But it gets better.

Other neocons, namely Abram Shulsky and Paul Wolfowitz, were taught directly by Strauss (Shulsky currently heads the Iranian Directorate, tasked with “cherry picking, manipulating, and even planting intelligence abroad that would support a case against Iran in the minds of the public,” according to sources cited by Larisa Alexandrovna).

And we're mad for thinking that the Iran war may be a fix-up job (hi Mel!). Yeah, right.
Mansfield is radically opposed to liberalism—not the soft and squishy modern version of liberalism, mind you, but classical liberalism going back to the Magna Carta. “The hallmark of Strauss’ approach to philosophy was his hatred of the modern world, his belief in a totalitarian system, run by ‘philosophers,’ who rejected all universal principles of natural law, but saw their mission as absolute rulers, who lied and deceived a foolish ‘populist’ mass, and used both religion and politics as a means of disseminating myths that kept the general population in clueless servitude,” explains Jeffrey Steinberg.

I can vouch for that myself, having spent a fair bit of time at the library, poring over their texts.
Mansfield defends the monarchical executive through philosophical abstractions,” arguments hauntingly like those espoused by Carl Schmitt, the “Crown Jurist of the Third Reich.” Strauss and Schmitt “were once close professionally,” notes Alan Wolfe, “Schmitt supported Strauss’s application for a Rockefeller Foundation fellowship to Paris in 1932, the same year in which Strauss published a review of Schmitt’s most important book, The Concept of the Political.”

Schmitt himself was not a Nazi, merely an anti-democratic, backwards, autocratic son of a bitch. A small thing, but its worth noting. Schmitt was also important in helping Strauss think about the exoteric and esoteric implications of political philosophy texts, something which is somewhat of an obsession for Neo-Cons (mainly because it justifies their lying).
For Schmitt, the concept of “friend and enemy” makes the world go around. In other words, for the sake of social and political cohesion, a perennial enemy must exist, and it is essential such an enemy present a serious threat, even a mortal danger, and thus the Schmittian “power of the exception” must fall to the executive.

Absolutely. I had to read The Concept of the Political for my second year course on Realism and power politics. Its a fascinating and somewhat disturbing text, not very long at all and very worth reading. Thats also the reason for Neo-Con hatred of liberalism in any form, because it seeks to destroy the "friend-enemy" distinction through compromise and debate. Schmitt argued this was most evident in the Weimar Republic, when the Nazis and Communists (who both wanted to destroy the Republic) were given a hand in running it.

Thats just a few highlights and my own thoughts though. Read the article yourself - better yet, get your hands on some books by Schmitt and Strauss and give them a read. Its well worth your time. Everything the media has told you about the second Bush term having less Neo-Cons and moving to a more traditional stance is a lie. Whats more, you have the liberal hawks like Hillary Clinton who are no better, because Neo-Con ideas are starting to take hold in the Democratic party too.

They're going to be around for a long time yet, so you will be doing yourself a favour to learn as much as possible.

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