Leo Strauss, the "Noble" lie and 9/11

Neocon-necting the dots

James Corbett
Corbett Report

September 1, 2007

Leo Strauss, philosophical enabler of 9/11.
Leo Strauss, philosophical enabler of 9/11.

There have already been numerous articles connecting Leo Strauss—the father of the Neocon cabal behind the Bush administration—to the various mendacities of the Bush administration. Seymour Hersh got the ball rolling with a landmark New Yorker article which made the connection between the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans and the Straussian Neocons. The Office of Special Plans was the now-infamous office set up in the Pentagon for cherry-picking evidence to create the case against Iraq in the run-up to the war. The group was headed by Abram Shulsky, a Straussian scholar, and gave much credence to Ahmed Chalabi, the once-darling of the Neocons who became persona non grata in Washington after it became apparent he was a fraudster who was passing American military secrets to Iran. As Hersh pointed out in his article, Shulsky's adherence to Strauss was not a trivial concern. As Shulsky himself wrote in a scholarly article he co-wrote on Strauss and intelligence gathering, Strauss' philosophy "suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception."

After Hersh published his article, the floodgates were open and numerous articles appeared connecting Strauss' idea of the "noble" lie—expounded on in an informative interview with political philosopher Shadia Drury—to the run up to the war in Iraq, including pieces in Alternet, Counterpunch, the International Herald Tribune, and even The Straight Dope. The article also inspired a defense of Strauss and the Neocons from the Neocon publication, The Weekly Standard.

Most of these articles echoed Hersh in connecting the Neocon's propensity to lie about intelligence with Strauss' idea that the elite must obscure reality behind noble lies and pious frauds in order to inflict their will on the unwashed masses. Some saw Strauss in the rhetoric employed by the Bush administration in their execution of the war on terror—'regime' being Strauss' preferred term for the Aristotelian category corresponding to the essence of a state. Thus 'regime change'. Some even pointed to Strauss' fascist tendencies, odd enough for one who fled Nazi persecution, but identifiable nonetheless.

What few of the left gatekeepers who were happy to jump on the Neocon/Strauss/Iraq lie connection have done, however, is apply this reasoning to the single greatest lie of the Bush Administration: 9/11. The reasoning is simple enough: an administration that has lied about their election, Iraq's WMD, the likely result of overthrowing Saddam, Abu Ghraib, NSA spying, and—as the latest episode of the Corbett Report makes clear— the existence of al-Qaeda itself, might also be lying about the defining event of their time in power: 9/11.

It is not difficult to see how the 9/11 lie would have benefitted this group of power-hungry proto-fascists. The motivation was identified by Hersh in his article. Hersh quotes Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief who once worked with Neocon Abram Shultz:

"Abe is very gentle and slow to anger, with a sense of irony. But his politics were typical for his group—the Straussian view." The group's members, Cannistraro said, "reinforce each other because they're the only friends they have, and they all work together. This has been going on since the nineteen-eighties, but they've never been able to coalesce as they have now. September 11th gave them the opportunity, and now they're in heaven.

9/11 was an enabler for this group. Before 9/11 they had a plan for projecting American dominance throughout the world. After 9/11 they had the great myth, the noble lie, the pious fraud by which to make it happen. Those who would doubt this need look no further than their own document, Rebuilding America's Defenses. The document—put out by the Project for a New American century and including Neocon project participants like Shultz, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and "Scooter" Libby—lays out the Neocon's plans for "shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests." Infamously, page 51 of the document contains the following passage: "Further, the process of transformation [of the American military], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor."

And yet, despite their philosophical underpinnings, their adherence to duplicity in dealing with the public, their track record of lying, their abominable record in every other aspect of governance, the Bush administration is given a full pass on the events of 9/11 by the left gatekeepers, as Robert Fisk's recent admission that he questions 9/11 was met with frenzy from the usual left gatekeepers. It is sad that the gatekeepers of the left are carrying on their same old knee-jerk denials just as the left is waking up to the possibility that the Neocons are lying about 9/11.

The gatekeepers, for their part, must be very worried. The gates are opening on the Straussian lie and a true understanding of 9/11, their liberal sheep are escaping and the whole left/right paradigm is starting to come undone...Now what was that about "regime change"?