A very thoughtful piece by Tom West about Leo Strauss and his relative influence on American foreign policy appears in the latest issue of The Claremont Review of Books. West argues that Strauss views on foreign policy are largely misunderstood and are not really guiding our mission in Iraq as some critics have claimed. If Strauss thought were guiding our policy, West argues our priorities would be more clear and, perhaps, more readily defended in the public mind. Im no expert on this but it is a good read and offers a unique and constructive critique of the Bush policy.
Comment 2 by Richard Reeb [E-Mail]
Prof. West’s article on Straussian foreign policy was indeed a thoughtful piece which, I maintain, ultimately grants the wisdom of the distinctively American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. For whatever case may be made for avoiding the imposition of democratic government in these two Muslim nations, "prudence indeed will dictate" that no other approach makes sense. Even if one grants that a more "realistic" solution would be to install some loyal American puppet in each country, it will simply not fly. Granted, too, that the critics on the left are, to put it charitably, inconsistent in their criticism (at one time demanding democracy, at another denouncing the idea as unrealistic). But they would come just as unglued at the undemocratic prospect as they have at the current experiment. We are right to foster democratic institutions even in such unlikely places as Afghanistan and Iraq because if we did not, not only would those regimes be denounced but would engender just as much, if not more, local opposition as the ones taking power now. We were roundly criticized here and abroad, not without reason, for not doing this very thing in Afghanistan after the Soviets finally threw in the towel, and we all know what happened next. And Americans, at least, were disappointed that Saddam was not thrown out in 1990 in the first Gulf war. We need to have friends in these areas so that we have a base for leverage in the that part of the world in all relevant respects--military, political, economic and especially moral. We can’t do all these things without a regime that we can wholeheartedly support and not merely manipulate. We are also laying the foundation for counteracting much of the hatred and downright poison that characterizes the Middle East and central Asia by fostering regimes that break the violence of Musim faction. The more regimes form that avoid rule by one single sect of Islam, the more likely their politics will be moderated and our safety will be better ensured. And it’s not as if the undemocratic and "stable" regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia have done much for American interests, as the first has virtually extricated itself from the Camp David Accord--long before George Bush became president--and the second continues to foster a form of Islamic fanaticism (Whahabism) which is at least as virulent as al-Quedaism, if it is not tacitly cooperating with it. These few remarks don’t do justice to the subject and certainly not to Prof. West’s superb essay, but I think the actual circumstances in which our policy operates dictate essentially what the Bush Administration is currently striving to accomplish.
Link to this Comment | 8/12/2004 5:14 PM
Neo conservatives must be from a different world, that article makes no common sense. Do you really believe that you must oppress and control the rest of the world to be safe from it? Do you even think that is possible or practical? Sorry but I think this whole benevolent hegemony argument is just a way of saying “we want to control everyone and everything.