Sunday, May 4, 2003

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The conspiracy narrows

The search for a secret cabal running the government continues. First it was the neoconservatives. Then it was, more specifically, Jewish neoconservatives. Now, according to the New York Times, it's Straussian neoconservatives:

To intellectual-conspiracy theorists, the Bush administration's foreign policy is entirely a Straussian creation. Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, has been identified as a disciple of Strauss; William Kristol, founding editor of The Weekly Standard, a must-read in the White House, considers himself a Straussian; Gary Schmitt, executive director of the Project for the New American Century, an influential foreign policy group started by Mr. Kristol, is firming in the Strauss camp.

The Bush administration is rife with Straussians. In addition to Mr. Wolfowitz, there is his associate Richard N. Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board and the managing partner in Trireme Partners, a venture-capital company heavily invested in manufacturers of technology for homeland security and defense. Mr. Perle and Mr. Wolfowitz are both disciples of the late Albert Wohlstetter, a Straussian professor of mathematics and military strategist who put forward the idea of "graduated deterrence" — limited, small-scale wars fought with "smart" precision-guided bombs.

This is pretty weak stuff. In the end, you have one genuine Straussian devotee -- Wolfowitz -- in the government. The rest -- Perle, Kristol, Schmitt -- may be intellectual forces to be reckoned with, but none of them hold a position in the Bush administration (Perle resigned as chairman of the Defense Policy Board last month).

These myriad variations of the same conspiracy story are growing tedious. Bob Lieber does a nice job of demolishing them in a Chronicle of Higher Education essay. The key grafs:

More to the point, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice are among the most experienced, tough-minded, and strong-willed foreign-policy makers in at least a generation, and the conspiracy theory fails utterly to take into account their own assessments of American grand strategy in the aftermath of 9/11.

The theory also wrongly presumes that Bush himself is an empty vessel, a latter-day equivalent of Czarina Alexandra, somehow fallen under the influence of Wolfowitz/Rasputin. Condescension toward Bush has been a hallmark of liberal and leftist discourse ever since the disputed 2000 presidential election, and there can be few readers of this publication who have not heard conversations about the president that did not begin with offhand dismissals of him as "stupid," a "cowboy," or worse.

Partisanship aside, the president has shown himself to be independent and decisive, able to weigh competing advice from his top officials before deciding how to act. In August of last year, for example, he sided with Secretary of State Powell over the initial advice of Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Cheney in opting to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq. Powell's own February 5 speech to the Security Council was a compelling presentation of the administration's case against Iraq, and well before the outbreak of the war, Powell made clear his view that the use of force had become unavoidable.

Sigh. What Lieber says is pretty damn obvious, but it's depressing that it needs to be constantly repeated.

I miss the good old days of conspiracy-mongering, when the Trilateral Commission was supposed to be running things.

Those readers expecting me -- as a member of the very same political science department as Strauss -- to comment further on the Straussian angle will be disappointed. No, it's not because someone got to me. It's because this is all ancient history to me, and since I'm not a political theorist, I have little incentive to keep up on Strauss' legacy. Hopefully, Jacob Levy will be able to post a comment or two.

I'm sure Andrew Sullivan, a Straussian-once-removed (read the Times piece for an explanation) will post something on this in the near future. (UPDATE: He has -- you need to scroll down a little)

posted by Dan on 05.04.03 at 12:06 PM


Nice reading.Sorry I found your site so late.
Some of us, europeans,even spaniards, are lately a bit surprised, looking from afar, at the mess that apparently is taking place in U.S. nowadays, with this cocktail of straussians, neocons,right-wing jewish, Bible and gun christian fundamentalists and oilmen, with a touch of sharonite expansionism.

Whatever happened to the good old, self-critical, american-jewish liberal ?.
By the way,being a university professor,I have two questions for you.
I guess by your name that you may be of jewish origin. If you are not, my questions are the same.
First and foremost want you to know that until now,I have always laughed at those funny conspiracy theories,but now I'm beginnig to wonder.
Of course, I'm asking, not lecturing you.
1.Russian Oligarchs are now very much in fashion.I have read Hoffman's book,but I agree with Greene's observation in FORWARD ( Sept/ 13 /'02).
" If the book has a flaw it is in not answering one of the central questions it raises: Why is it, an what does it mean, that so many of these men - men who ruthlessly acquired and manipulated Russias's resources and , for a time,its government- are Jewish? ".

Add to this,The Jerusalem Letter ( J.C. Public Affairs ) No.414 15/Sept.1999, easily reachable by Google: " The role...antisemitism " by B Betsy Gidwitz, that literally says :
" That jews control a disproportionately large share of the russian economy and russian media,"(media, no longer, I know )," has some basis in fact.Between 50 and 80 percent of the russian economy is said to be in jewish hands..."
My goodness !. In only ten years !.
Add to this today's news that Khodorkovsky in entrusting his Yukos share to Jacob Rothschild to be protected, and Abramovich, and so many other stories...
Too much, to exclusive, too fast.Is anything left for us, goyim ?.

2.- Does exist in U.S., any Phd or book, published on non-sectarian, factual information,about Jewish Power ( don't mean only lobbies ), in America ?.
I mean : Take jewish numerical presence in the upper levels of American Society,including Media, Finance,Education, Commece,and, why not?, Art, Literature, etc... and compare with the equivalent layer of non-jewish population.
Then go to the jewish percentage of american population.
Allow for three/four fold increase for reasons of personal quality, education, etc. and compare again.
I guess that the results could be amazing.
Of course, infomation must be handled with care, but after all, this is your job. Also to extract the conclusions if any.
Joaquin Bordiu.

posted by: Joaquin Bordiu on 05.04.03 at 12:06 PM [permalink]

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