Leo Strauss: Warmonger, Pacifist, or Something Else?

Worshipped by his students and vilified by his enemies as the founder of a shadowy neoconservative conspiracy responsible for the 2003 Iraq war, Leo Strauss has generated attention highly unusual for a scholar of Xenophon, Plato, and Maimonides. A recent book, provocatively entitled Leo Strauss: Man of Peace, seeks to dispel the myths of both Strauss’s devotees and his denigrators. According to its author, Robert Howse, Strauss was committed to international law as a means of constraining the violence inherent in the relations between states, even if he was skeptical of utopian schemes promising perpetual peace. In his review, Gary Rosen evaluates Howse’s arguments and reflects on Strauss’s background and legacy:

Howse [reminds] us that Strauss was, in addition to everything else, a penetrating scholar of Jewish thought and a refugee from the world destroyed by the Nazi war against the Jews. As Howse sees it, the young Strauss shared to a degree the discontent with liberal principles among Weimar intellectuals on the right, many of whom belonged to what is known in Germany as the Konservative Revolution of the 1920s, a movement that prepared the way for a broader intellectual acceptance of Nazism. As Strauss wrote in an essay on the corrupting influence of [Friedrich] Nietzsche, [Carl] Schmitt, and [Martin] Heidegger, part of their appeal to high-minded young Germans (himself presumably included) lay in their “sense of responsibility for endangered morality”—morality robbed of its heroism and nobility by petty calculation and self-interest. . . .

Strauss himself traveled a considerable distance from his youthful infatuation with the most enticing and dangerously revolutionary streams of modern thought. A token of the hard-won insights of his “turning” can be found in the tribute that he paid to Winston Churchill, in front of his students, the day after the British statesman’s death in 1965. . . . Here is the Strauss whose work continues to attract those who see in politics an activity with its own dignity but also a horizon that points, potentially, beyond politics.

Read more at National Interest

More about: Carl Schmitt, Friedrich Nietzsche, International Law, Leo Strauss, Neoconservatism, Weimar Republic

As Hamas’s Reign of Terror Endures, the International Community Remains Obsessed with Jews Living in the Wrong Places

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the G-7—the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—along with the EU, made an official “statement on the situation in the West Bank,” an area where they are very concerned, it appears, that too many Jews are dwelling. In particular, the G-7 condemned Israel’s decision to grant municipal status to five ad-hoc villages built without proper permits. Elliott Abrams comments:

I can see “condemning” murder, terror, kidnapping, and “rejecting” that legalization. Indeed in the next sentence they “reject the decision by the government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands.’” Building houses should not be treated with language usually reserved for murder.

The statement then added complaints about the Israeli settlement program more generally, and about Israel’s decision to withhold some tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Why does Israel ever withhold such funds? Sometimes it is in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Sometimes it’s domestic politics. But it’s worth remembering something else: the Taylor Force Act, which became law in 2018 and stated that the “Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.” Until those payments cease, most forms of aid from the U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority may not be made. The payments continue. It is not clear if the State Department is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to end them.

Such moral considerations are entirely absent from the G-7 statement. The statement may be correct when it says, “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security.” But it should be obvious that ending the pay-for-slay program and rewards for terrorism is even more critical for regional security. It’s a pity the G-7 did not find time to mention that.

The statement, it’s worth noting, appeared on the U.S. State Department website.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank