I've been a bad boy and posted material from the lefty site CounterPunch.org (which is normally screened out by the posting engine). I'm calling your attention to this, but seeking an exemption since this is an interesing (if somewhat rambling) article about the history of conservatism. CounterPunch merely provided the translation for this Le Monde article.
However nuke the thread if you must, or feel you should.
If not for Wohlstetter, Wolfowitz claims, the Tomahawk might never have remained in the DoD arsenal.
The interview gives some fascinating insight into Wolfowitz's life and his journey through academia and beyond. For instance, Wohlstetter studied with Wolfowitz's Dad at Columbia. And Wolfowitz's Dad also taught Alan Greenspan, and introduced Greenspan to the then new field of econometrics.
It's a product of fevered minds who seem incapable of understanding that September 11th changed a lot of things and changed the way we need to approach the world. Since they refused to confront that, they looked for some kind of conspiracy theory to explain it.
I mean I took two terrific courses from Leo Strauss as a graduate student. One was on Montesquieu's spirit of the laws, which did help me understand our Constitution better. And one was on Plato's laws. The idea that this has anything to do with U.S. foreign policy is just laughable.
I don't think they marginalized the Democratic center and center-left. Has anyone noticed that there is no intellectual Democratic center or center-left?
Both the more central Democrats and the neoconservatives are postmodernists, but the central Democrats are stuck in minimalism. Interestingly, it's the far left that has an intellectual agenda, and that agenda is close to structuralism.
The "Straussians" referred to are a group of intellectuals who believe in an active projection of American values, and a belief in American exceptionalism. Their connection to Strauss himself is rather coincidental, almost like the game which purports to prove that everyone in the world is only 5 steps removed from Kevin Bacon.
They do admit that "neo-conservative" is a misnomer. American conservatism is not, at its heart, conservative on the European model. 'Neoconservative' is a misnomer. They have nothing in common with those striving to guarantee the established order. American conservatism is at its heart classic liberalism, or whigism. American conservatives are often also conservatives in the traditionalist mold, which helps to confuse the matter, but few on the left ever note the distinction, which is what helps them to misjudge both events and conservatism itself consistently and egregiously.
As they note, the conservatism of some writers assumes a tragic view of human nature, but Americans are idealist-optimists convinced of the universal value of the American democratic model. The Classic Liberalism at the heart of American conservatism is ultimately hostile to the status quo where the status quo is anti-liberal.
There is a "Straussian" current in American conservatism, but Strauss is not the source. The elements the authors attribute to Strauss are his belief that "virtue is the basis for democracies" and a hostility to moral relativism; where it intersects with politics, the belief that "relativism of the Good results in an inability to react to tyranny".
But this is not unique to Strauss.
The idea of America as a moral project is repeated over and over from the founding fathers forward. The belief in American exceptionalism, that God has uniquely blessed this country, and has uniquely charged it with a moral mission and purpose, that Americans are in effect the "other" Chosen People, is deeply embedded in the American psyche, and is reinforced continuously from a million pulpits all across the land.
The writers note the apparent contradiction of "Straussians" coexisting with fundamentalists in the current administration, but it isn't such a contradiction. Both believe that life and politics cannot be separated from morality. Both believe in American mission and purpose. And both believe, in the field of geo-politics, that coexistence with evil can only be a temporary solution to a deeper problem.
Their willingness to go after the countries that attacked us is also rooted in American character. No one accused Roosevelt of being a "Straussian" or a neo-anything when he took the American people to war to avenge an attack on a Navy base, and chased the Japanese all the way back to Tokyo, and burned their cities to the ground. No one bothered to comment on it, or to look for a deeper philosophical explanation for our reaction. What else would you do when someone threatens you in your home?
Similarly, the willingness of the Reaganites to confront the Soviet Union rather than acquiesce to its tyranny is rooted more in traditional American character, perhaps fed by the evengelical protestant tradition referred to earlier. It shouldn't have required a Strauss to tell us that a passive response to the Soviets was slow-motion suicide, or that a robust defense of our values would have consequences far beyond our shores.
In the current climate, Strauss is being credited for positions he never took on matters of Mid Eastern policy. But we have been at war with Iraq for 12 years, we have been under attack by forces emanating out of the middle east for 40 years, and it doesn't require an obscure classicist to tell us what to do about it, it only requres courage, the ability to distinguish between good and evil, and clarity of purpose.
The mystery is not that the thinkers and politicians orchestrating our almost-robust defense of the country are all within 5 steps of separation from Leo Strauss, but that the willingness to defend the country, and the willingness to distinguish good from evil, have become so remarkable. That is the mystery, that the willingness to confront Soviets and middle eastern psycho killers is considered strange.