Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Neocon “Academic” Cohen Evades Media Criticism
Monday March 05th 2007, 9:30 pm

Now that Anna Nicole Smith is buried, the corporate media has adopted yet another tawdry spectacle—the gruesome dismemberment of a Shelby Township, Michigan, woman. But if murder is not your cup of tea, you can always perch before the plasma screen and observe the disgusting pageant of Ann Coulter, once again dominating what passes for news as she slanders presidential hopeful-selectee John Edwards, calling him a “faggot,” a comment that inspired Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, to proclaim it is a shame Coulter did not instead remark upon Edwards’ “radical agenda.” Of course, John Edwards is no more or less “radical” than any of the other contenders, one-worlders all—but never mind, we have a false paradigm to uphold here.

Meanwhile, the corporate media deems the character and agenda of Eliot Cohen not worth mention. As you may recall, as noted here last week, Cohen was elevated to the enviable—or not, unless you’re a neocon—position of handling Condi Rice, the Secretary of State considered a dismal failure all around. Cohen’s appointment gained a granule of notice in the CIA’s favorite newspaper, the Washington Post, near week’s end, and the San Francisco Chronicle and the neocon friendly New York Sun noticed as well, but the spin was immediately sent into orbit, as all around described Mr. Cohen as a “prominent writer” and “academic” who “pulled no punches in his criticism of the military occupation of Iraq,” as if the guy is a stark raving peacenik casting about flower petals.

In fact, the guy is a stark raving Straussian, an Israel First fanatic, avidly chomping at the bit to shock and awe Iran and realize the remainder of the neocon plan in short order, that is the methodical reduction of the Arab and Muslim Middle East to a smoldering shell of death and misery.

“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.”

That is the neoconservative vision at its core. And the untold damage it has wreaked on our country has not diminished their influence in any way in this administration. They are still in control, particularly in the area they care about most—the Middle East. And they have dealt with their greatest fear—war-avoidance with Iran prior to regime change—by installing one of their very own extremists to scrutinize and check the State Department.

This is really the debate America needs most, but is also the one we are furthest away from being able to conduct—is the goal of the U.S. really to maintain and expand imperial world domination? The dangers to our country from that pursuit are grave and obvious. They are precisely the ones about which, among others, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Dwight Eisenhower most urgently warned, and Jefferson similarly emphasized continuously that the most important obligation a country has is to avoid war except when the nation’s security is directly attacked.

But that, more than anything, accounts for the current predicament of America. We have ceased adhering in these matters to the principles of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Dwight Eisenhower, and have instead become a nation of Dick Cheneys, Victor Davis Hansons, Richard Perles, and Eliot Cohens.

Unfortunately, Greenwald, like so many smart people, aims too high, or maybe it is too low. It must be emphatically stated Cohen and the neocons are not dismissive of the sort of values espoused by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (it is a mistake to put Eisenhower in their league)—in fact, they are downright contemptuous, if the truth be told.

Eliot Cohen was not a student of Leo Strauss, but he was the next best thing—he was a student of Harvey C. Mansfield Jr., as was another Straussian, William Kristol, the latter who dons a boyish and disarming smile on Fox News, thus masking his true nature, that is hankering for the destruction of life as we know it (see Robert Howse’s Leo Strauss—Man of War? Straussianism, Iraq, and the Neocons). 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).

From his perch at Harvard, Mansfield, fat on the meat of numerous Guggenheim and NEH Fellowships, instructs his students on Machiavelli, Hobbes, and the concept of “manliness,” a quality obviously in short supply among effete, university and foundation-bound chicken hawk neocons. Mansfield “is a self-described Straussian,” according to Wikipedia, that is to say 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. “For Strauss and all of his protégés (Strauss personally had 100 Ph.D. students, and the ‘Straussians’ now dominate most university political science and philosophy departments), the greatest object of hatred was the United States itself, which they viewed as nothing better than a weak, pathetic replay of ‘liberal democratic’ Weimar Germany.”

Mansfield is a proponent of “extra-legal powers” bestowed upon the presidency, or in Bush’s case, the unitary decidership. “Mansfield argues that the U.S. Constitution creates a strong executive because the framers understood that the rule of law won’t suffice in an emergency,” writes David Luban. “Unlike the currently notorious arguments of John Yoo, based on (selective) use of founding-era history, 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.”

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. “Sovereign is he who holds the power of the exception,” writes Hitler’s jurist. “Much present-day thinking puts civil liberties and the rule of law to the fore and forgets to consider emergencies when liberties are dangerous and law does not apply. But it is precisely difficult situations that we should think about and counsels of perfection that we should avoid,” Mansfield wrote last year for the Weekly Standard. “In Machiavelli’s terms, ordinary power needs to be supplemented or corrected by the extraordinary power of a prince, using wise discretion.”

Eliot Cohen, tutored well by the Machiavellian Mansfield, does “not want to avoid war at all, but instead believe[s] that it’s glorious and elegant and empowering,” as Greenwald writes. Cohen and the Straussian neocons “want to ensure a state of Permanent War, complete with all of the internal constrictions of liberty which wars inevitably entail, because they view the United States not as a republic, but as an empire which—in order to fulfill all sorts of agendas—can, should and must rule the world with superior military force. There is a temptation to dismiss ‘those same people’ as irrelevant extremists, but as Cohen’s Friday-announced appointment reflects, they are anything but irrelevant.”

Indeed, they are hardly irrelevant—not that most of us notice, thanks to a corporate media selling instead “Barbie Bandits” and the prospect of Britney Spears committing “inevitably weird” suicide while in rehab.

Unfortunately, on the day after “World War Four” kicks off, thanks to Straussians in high places, we will be headed to the same fate Schmitt’s Germany suffered, that is to say a dreadful place replete with misery and hardship. In 1946, after a short stay in an internment camp, Schmitt was allowed to return to his home town of Plettenberg, where he continued his studies, including lectures in fascist Spain.

No doubt our neocons will experience likewise—albeit minus the internment camp, because here in America we love and laud our war criminals and scoundrels, as Bush Senior, Bill Clinton, and Henry Kissinger, to name but three, can attest.


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