Monday, May 19, 2003

If you aren't already reading Billmon's Whiskey Bar, which is not yet on the blogroll because I'm doing a shameful job of maintaining it, you could do worse than to start with this piece. It starts with the Dubya's crew crying crocodile tears over the dead in Iraqi mass graves, and then reminds us how little these same ex-Reaganauts cared about the people now in those graves at the time they were actually dying.

But that's about what we should expect, given the views of their intellectual guiding light, Leo Strauss:

Shadia Drury, author of 1999's 'Leo Strauss and the American Right', says ... ''Strauss was neither a liberal nor a democrat. Perpetual deception of the citizens by those in power is critical (in Strauss's view) because they need to be led, and they need strong rulers to tell them what's good for them.''

And if you're worried that conflicts like "the war on terrorism" are by nature unwinnable, because there's always one more thug somewhere, relax. That's not a bug; it's a feature:

''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 maintains that if no external threat exists, then one has to be manufactured. Had he lived to see the collapse of the Soviet Union, he would have been deeply troubled because the collapse of the 'evil empire' poses a threat to America's inner stability.''

''In Strauss' view, you have to fight all the time (to survive),'' said Drury. ''In that respect, it's very Spartan. Peace leads to decadence. Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in.''

Mind you, we didn't have to see this conflict as a "war" in the first place -- we could, instead, have adopted the metaphor of law enforcement. But that would provoke unwanted comparisons. Someone might remember that Americans deny government some crime-fighting tools because we don't want the kind of state which would have arbitrary power to fight crime. And not only that, but resentment at overarching government power can actually breed criminal activity, as at the Murrah building in Oklahoma City.

So, instead of international policing agreements and strategies, and the "goodness gracious isn't that terrible henny penny" rhetoric about police powers that would come out of that, we have a war. War without end.

Which isn't exactly what anyone voted for. But while Lincoln's still right that you can't fool all of the people all of the time, it may yet be possible to fool enough of the people that the rest make no difference.

Strauss link via Tristero. And for a chaser from the Whiskey Bar, try this personal memento of the human rights record of the United States and its client governments under Reagan...


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