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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Straussian Waltz Down a Slippery Slope

by Steve Bhaerman

Although we would like to believe that the principles that guided America's founding fathers are still in operation, the sad truth is that the principles of truth, justice and transparency have been overridden by a new operating system called "neo-conservatism" which is neither "neo" nor conservative. The "neocon" is actually a very old con called "the end justifies the means." And that brings us to Leo Strauss, the man considered the "founding father" of neoconservatism.

Leo Strauss, who was born in Germany and who taught at the University of Chicago from 1949-69, brought Machiavelli into the machine age. He unabashedly believed in manipulation and deception, all of which he deemed necessary to rule the unruly masses. According to Shadia Drury, author of Leo Strauss and the American Right, Strauss believed that "those who are fit REto rule are those who realize there is no morality and there is only one natural right -- the right of the superior to rule over the inferior."

Strauss was a strong believer in religion -- as a way of imposing "moral law" on the populace, who would otherwise be out of control. He would have agreed with Marx that religion was the "opiate of the masses," only he had no qualms about being a drug dealer. The rulers, of course, didn't have to live by the rules of religion. Says Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason magazine: "Neoconservatives are pro-religion even though they themselves may not be believers."

In the tradition of Thomas Hobbes, Strauss believed humans are inherently evil and need strong external control -- and an external enemy. As he once wrote, "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed. Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united -- and they can only be united against other people."

According to Drury, Strauss believed that "if no external threat exists, one has to be manufactured." Interestingly enough, Strauss's neocon disciples William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle (along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld) helped found a think tank called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in the 1990s. A PNAC document, Rebuilding America's Defenses has been a guiding force for the Bush-Cheney White House. According to PNAC, the only way to assure America's safety in the 21st century is by being the only superpower on the block, what they referred to as Pax Americana. Of course, since the Iraq War many around the world are calling it a "Pox Americana."

Perhaps the most telling quote in the Rebuilding America's Defenses document refers to needing a "catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor" to mobilize the masses for this undertaking (pun intended). The neocons insist this was an innocuous quote taken out of context. However, when seen in the context of Leo Strauss's core beliefs, it's easy to make the connection and see the 9/11 attacks as the "catalyzing event" that launched the so-called "war on terror." In fact, author and theologian David Ray Griffin called his sober account debunking the official 9/11 story The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11. Whether or not the attacks were an "inside job," they were certainly used in classic Straussian fashion to create national unity and control through perpetual war.

Griffin, a well-respected mainstream theologian who has written and edited 30 books, contends that the official 9/11 story has been given the "halo of religious mythology." Like the infallibility of the Pope in the Church or the primacy of matter in scientific materialism, questioning the official 9/11 story is taboo. Consequently, most people fail to see the red flags that are literally in plain sight:

– The official story was in place within 48 hours of the event, before any investigation was undertaken.

– The official "remedy," the so-called Patriot Act (a 342-page document that many legislators signed without reading), appeared as if by magic and was ratified in an atmosphere of panic -- right on the heels of Democratic legislators receiving packets of deadly anthrax, a crime that has never been "solved."

– No satisfactory explanation has ever been given as to how and why the world's most sophisticated air defense system "stood down" in the most deadly attacks ever on American soil. And no one was held accountable.

Transcripts of testimony released at the insistence of 9/11 families -- from firefighters, police and eyewitnesses -- mention over and over again a "series of explosions" and the towers coming down in their tracks, "just like a planned demolition."

– When there finally was an investigation, only testimony supporting the official version of the story was allowed. Imagine, if you will, a court case where there was no conflicting evidence ... case closed.

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