For the Record: Neocons Scoff at Democratic Values, Manipulate Religion

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In September 2000, an article was published by the think tank, Project for a New American Century (PNAC) called Rebuilding America’s Defenses. The article calls for a visionary transformation of the nature and function of the American military, with the goal of establishing a “Pax Americana.” In discussing the difficulty in promoting their agenda to the American people, the authors wrote:

Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor. Domestic politics and industrial policy will shape the pace and content of transformation as much as the requirements of current missions.
It does not follow from this statement that these people were in any way involved in the 9/11 attack, however it does speak to the fact that they felt they stood to gain from such a “new Pearl Harbor,” which would act as a catalyst in speeding up the implementation of their agenda. PNAC, a voice of the neo-conservative movement, was founded in the mid 90’s to promote a global Pax Americana. The signatures of the groups mission statement include Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Chaney, Bill Kristol, Lewis Libby, and Jeb Bush among others.

Most of the people involved with PNAC were, directly or indirectly, students of a political theorist names Leo Strauss. Strauss was a German Jew who fled to America during WWII. His theories developed into a critique of what he felt was an inherent tendency of Western society toward nihilism. He believed that the classical philosophers has understood correctly that, while no higher authority than man actually existed, for the sake of a smoothly-run society it was essential for the masses to have religion. As one article puts it:

Plato benevolently conceived of such a system in order to establish a stable social and moral order and to make the most of the capacities of individuals to serve the community. He was not concerned that the lie he told was false. If the people believed that god put different metals into the souls of different people then they would accept the social order that resulted from this and live in a stable and socially just society. Its claim to social justice would come from a willingness to promote or demote people according to their ability. Even less palatably to us now, Plato also suggested that people be taught the myth that different classes have different metals in their bloodstream, and therefore should not intermarry.

The noble lie is a religious myth told to the people to motivate them to do what is good and right. Without this religious belief they would not behave in a good fashion even if this was what was ultimately in their best interests. It was no use explaining to them why they should behave well because they would not understand. Plato did not have a very good opinion of the ordinary man or woman. He thought mankind should be ruled by super-intelligent Guardians who would know what was right to do. Ordinary people could not rule because they could not be trusted to do what was right. Democracy, said Plato, is the rule of the mob.

Strauss incorporated the idea of the “Noble Lie” into his political thought and teaching, and we can see it’s application today. Perhaps the PNAC neocons, who are now heavily represented in the Bush admin., felt the country was ebbing toward a self-destructive nihilism when they constructed a “noble lie” for all of us: that the US isn’t just another superpower poised to expand its power and influence, but that America had a solemn duty to spread “freedom” across the globe. And since God gave us that freedom, anyone who disagreed with us was in opposition to God. Through Bush, they’ve won over religious groups by couching their noble lie in religious overtones:

the day after 9/11, the President first stated the position he would continue to maintain: "This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil, but good will prevail." Later Bush defined his enemies as the "axis of evil," a term that is theologically and morally loaded. “Given that state of sublime innocence in his own country, like Adam and Eve in paradise, Bush can muster only one explanation for the terrorists' hatred of his nation: "There are people who hate freedom." In other words, they are so evil that they abhor the good because it is good. (But if the terrorists hate freedom, why have they not attacked Canada, which in some respects is more democratic than the United States? Why is there not the same hatred for Switzerland, Holland or Costa Rica?)

Rather than just exploiting religion’s potential to be an “opiate of the masses,” this noble lie is a double edged sword: it gave the people an idea to rally behind; a raison d’etre for post-cold war America, as well as justifying the invasion of Iraq and the radical transformation of the American military which PNAC had called for.

In a press conference yesterday, Bush complained that a leaked report which concluded that the war in Iraq has increased the terrorist threat. He claimed that the report’s leak was politically motivated, and that it would “create confusion in the minds of the American people” Confusion? To the country’s leadership, the truth is dangerous. Despite all of the rhetoric about Freedom and Democracy, at the heart of the ‘Bush doctrine’ is a neoconservative contempt for the masses and democracy, an idea that the people can by manipulated through their religion, and the notion that lies are necessary because the masses can’t handle the truth.

Well, I for one have had enough!

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(originally uploaded by Scoobymoo) Steve | 09.29.06 - 11:52 am I’d have to say, I once thought terrorists were just religious nuts trying to get their 40 virgins. I thought 9/11 was a cowardly, yet simplistic attack. Today, I realize how sophisticat... Read More


From a quick scan the PNAC stuff makes a lot of sense to me. Seems like all good ideas.

As to the idea the Bush administration is pulling off a "noble lie", I suppose you could be right. Despite my neocon heritage, I actually know very little about the intellectual underpinnings. The idea of "spreading democracy" has always struck me a a pile of horse hockey - as Davis says in our left sidebar.

Many of us are pretty ticked off at the Bush administration right now and the Bill Kristol-Fred Barnes wing of the conservative movement could not sink any lower in my opinion if they started barbecuing puppies.

Be careful attributing too much competence to the Bush administration, though. I think the reaction to 9-11 was just that - a reaction, not an opportunity to unfold some grand consipiracy. The notion Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism was not crazy or concocted. Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism.

Thanks for the good research in this post, though.

Jack said:


Terrorists have tried to attack Canada, and have attacked Britain, Spain, France, Germany, and Denmark. (I suspect I missed a few countries, too.) They kill because of percieved slights in cartoons or speeches. They kill for any reason, or for no reason at all. They do not hate us because they hate freedom, but because they love to hate.

charles said:

Uh, the reason Bush said they were sewing confusion in the american people was that the leakers only leaked a small part of the findings that supported their position.

Bush responded by releasing the ENTIRE set of findings, which painted a much different overall picture.

In the most egregious example, the leakers suggested the NIE supported immediate withdraw, because it said that being in Iraq was a catalyst for terror recruitment.

But the report notes, contrary to that view, that leaving would make it worse, while staying the course and acheiving our goals would severely harm our enemies.

But in fact, this is part of an organized attempt by the democrats to use leaks and half-truths to win the election. They knew Bush would have to release all the findings when they leaked half of them.

SO now they can claim Bush is "lying" because he didn't release the entire document, when the democrats know that he could NEVER release the entire document because it contains sources, methods, and information that would severely compromise our security -- while it wouldn't reveal ANYTHING that isn't already summarized in the ENTIRE SET OF CONCLUSIONS released by the president.

The know the President is too good a man to let the document out, and they hope to score political points by charging him with hiding the truth while knowing he is protecting national security by not releasing the document.

It's one thing to argue OVER what is in the document. But to smear the president as a liar for not doing something he CANNOT DO and you know he CANNOT DO is just crappy political gamesmanship of the worst kind, and should not be rewarded.

Kevin said:

Believers. "The know the President is too good a man" No president is too good a man. The president is ONLY a man, no matter what side.

No matter which side the president is from, he/she has to sell an ideology, no question.

Charles, Iraq was not necessarily a recruitment camp for international terrorists per se though it is now. And now that we are there we better finish the f-ing job or yes it would be a disaster. We got ourselves into this mess hand over fist. But even the current administration understands that it was begun uninformed (that's a generous term). Unless they're just lying to get more dems and independents on their side. But then they're liars. . .

If anybody knew what they know it would sew confusion into the american people. Do you really think you know the truth? Have the american people ever known the reality of any situation? Government is a beauracracy, a business to run, almost, with an agenda. The agenda must be sold.

As far as I can tell this administration had their own vision of the future, of the world scene. They exploited (neutral use of the term) their constituency and got voted in. Do you think you as their constituency are privy to the truth? Think again. They are selling an agenda, just as any dem or independent pres would have to do. There is an agenda which "they" will try to reach at all costs.

This belief system being sold? I ain't buying it. They've proven too many times that they can't be responsible in fulfilling the lie they're selling. And it's taking this wonderful country and turning it into a monster.

By the way, congratulations on y'all's win to continue flying people to countries where torture is legal. I mean, if you really didn't want to torture them, why not just bring them here and ask them the necessary questions?


zimzo said:

Charles, what you wrote is completely untrue. Bush did not release the entire report. He released 3.5 pages of a a 30-page report. Democrats and Republicans have called for him to release the entire report but he has refused.

The pages he did release did not say leaving Iraq would make the situation worse. It says our being there is breeding new terrorists and if we were perceived as being victorious (an extremely unlikely event at this point) fewer terrorists would be inspired to carry on. Here is the actual text of the passage in question:

"We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight."

Please check out the facts before you decide to rant like a lunatic. I know that conservatives follow Ronald Reagans philosophy that "facts are stupid things" but I'm afraid making arguments based on falsehoods just makes you look stupid and I would hate for that to happen.

Jack said:

Let's remember that both Republicans and Democrats voted to go into Iraq. Our Congresscritters had exactly the same intel available to them as W had, and came to the same conclusion.

"By the way, congratulations on y'all's win to continue flying people to countries where torture is legal." Which vote was that, exactly? I cannot find it.

As for thugs, how's Vince Foster?

Jack said:

Pay attention, Zimzo. Charles specifically said that the entire report was not released, but that the "entire set of findings" was released.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


The fact is that report concluded that because of the war in Iraq, the threat of terrorism has increased, and Bush said this will confuse people. The "lie" isn't that Bush wont release the whole document, but that the US has some sort of God-given duty to take over the middle east in the name of "Freedom." The report's conclusion suggests a more complex geopolitical environment than the childishly simplistic Good vs. Evil narrative that the admin. has pushed on America. So Bush is afraid it's going to confuse us.

...which isn't surprising given that the whole philosophical basis of the Bush admin. is rooted in this idea that the masses must be sold a "noble lie" in order to be kept in line.

I did get a kick out of your statement that Bush is a victim of democratic politicking because he's just too good of a guy. hilarious!


re: Terrorists have tried to attack Canada, and have attacked Britain, Spain, France, Germany, and Denmark.

I refer you to the NIE report's conclusion:

U.S.-led Iraq war has become a "cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."

It doesn't seem like the sort of statement that could be taken out of context. Unless, of course, it was written on "opposite day"

about the cartoons and the pope, some mysterious group presented Muslim leaders with the published cartoons plus some fakes which were meant to be more inflammatory. I wouldn't be surprised if they did the same thing with the pope's statements. These actions are simple propaganda carried out by instigators, but it's indicative of the situation in the region. The whole place is a powder keg, it only takes a spark.

Why is it a powder keg? because extremist groups seeking power fan the flames of discontent, yes. But also because of the ongoing Israel/Palestine problem and the Iraq War.

It doesn't seem to different from what happened here. No one would have been for invading Afghanistan and Iraq before 9/11. These attacks riled people up here in the US. Well, Iraq has riled up people throughout the region, and when people get riled up, they get radical.

Jack said:


Perhaps you should read your own posts: "But if the terrorists hate freedom, why have they not attacked Canada...?"

Surely I am misreading your comment. "It doesn't seem to (sic) different from what happened here. No one would have been for invading Afghanistan and Iraq before 9/11. These attacks riled people up here in the US."

I don't recall anyone murdering Muslims on the streets here after 9/11, but I do recall Muslims murdering people over cartoons and the Pope's speech. Are you really saying there is no difference?

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

there has been no terrorist jihadist attack in Canada.

your other point twists my words. (I said it doesn't seem too different, not, "there is no difference") I'm not saying the US and the muslim world had an identical reaction, the point is that, one tends to become upset when one feels that one's "people" are being attacked. In this way, 9/11 led to Iraq, which led to Muslims being pissed off at the West.

Did the attitudes of people in the US not change after 9/11? A Sikh student was beaten up here a day or two after 9/11. Americans didn't kill people in the streets, we're too civilized for that. Instead our reaction was to march in lock-step as the president foolishly led us into a war with the wrong country. (wrong, that is, unless there were ulterior motives at work)

it would have seemed an extreme idea to fool-heatedly invade Iraq, and only far-right fringe groups (PNAC) entertained such ideas pre-9/11. In that sense, the US was radicalized by 9/11. Yes the superficial forms of eastern and western radicalization differ, but the underlying, um, dialectics are the same, I think.

Kevin said:

"By the way, congratulations on y'all's win to continue flying people to countries where torture is legal." Which vote was that, exactly? I cannot find it.--Jack

Yeah Jack you're right. Apparently my brain got ahead of reality on that one, sorry for the mistake. Apparently last night's passage was more in narrowing the definition of the Geneva Conventions but ONLY as they apply to treatment of humans in Gitmo. (not in our now not so secret torture chambers in other countries, as for those, the CIA can do whatever they want without fear of prosecution).

As for Vince Foster I'm so far outside of politicking that I don't even know who that is. School me on the guy while I do an independent investigation to get both sides so as to attempt to appear intelligent in any response.

Jack said:


The terrorist attack in Canada was thwarted, which is why I said "tried to attack."

"Americans didn't kill people in the streets, we're too civilized for that."
"The superficial forms of eastern and western radicalization differ"

There is the difference: we are civilized, and they are not. It may be superficial, but it keeps us from murdering people over a few cartoons.

"it would have seemed an extreme idea to fool-heatedly invade Iraq, and only far-right fringe groups (PNAC) entertained such ideas pre-9/11." Didn't Clinton say that Hussein must be deposed?

I have already given the reasons we invaded Iraq, and they are still valid:

1) According to intelligence agencies world-wide, Iraq had "bugs and crud," and were working to get nuclear weapons.

2) Iraq had demonstrated missile technology that could carry warheads to Europe, and possibly the U.S.

3) Iraq had previously demonstrated its belligerent nature by invading Kuwait and attacking Israel.

4) In violation of the cease-fire after the Kuwait War, Iraq had expelled the U.N. weapons inspectors. (Why expell the inspectors if there were no WMD?)

5) Iraq threatened the U.S. and its allies, namely Israel.

As I also mentioned, our Congresscritters had access to the same intel data that Bush had, and also decided to go to war. You do not have that access. That's why we are a republic, and that's why character matters in our representatives.

Jack said:


No problem. I read through the Senate bill, but couldn't find anything.

Anyway, Vince Foster was a Clinton cronie. Just do a web search on his name, and you'll find more than you want to know.

zimzo said:

Excuse me for not recognizing Charles' use of weasel words. The fact remains that he completely misrepresented the "set of findings."

zimzo said:

Vince Foster was a friend and aide to the Clintons who committed suicide after a right-wing hate campaign made false accusations against him over Whitewater. After his death lunatic right-wing conspiracy theorists, including the editor of Joe's favorite "news" site World Net Daily, accused Hillary Clinton of having him murdered. A good test of whether someone is a normal if misguided conservative or an addle-brained nutcase is if they harbor bizarre crazed theories about Vince Foster's suicide.

Jack said:

Do you know of ANY other case in which a person shot himself TWICE to commit suicide?

charles said:

Zimzo, I neither "completely misrepresented the findings", nor did I use "Weasel words".

The NIE is made up of two parts -- a set of findings, which is a summary judgment of the 16 agencies involved, and the underlying data that is picked to represent the data used to reach the conclusions.

The findings AND the data are classified as a matter of course. From time to time, the findings are made public as necessary, but it is rare for the underlying data to be unclassified (I think some older NIEs have been released in redacted form, but I'm not sure).

The findings are written to be taken as a whole, and often include both sides of an issue with a weighting given to one or the other (this makes them somewhat less useful as direction, in my personal opinion, not that anyone cares).

Someone who wanted to get a point of view out before the election leaked a PORTION of the findings, presenting a skewed view of what the entire set of findings indicated.

The democrats used this skewed leak to attack Bush for making speeches that were different from what was in the leaked part of the findings.

The President, to counter those charges and give a clearer picture of what the intelligence community is saying, released THE ENTIRE SET OF FINDINGS. This is all the conclusions the agencies made based on the raw data available to them.

That's what I said in my first post, and it's the truth, and is exactly what I meant to say.

The Democrats, knowing full well (at least some of them who are cleared to see the report) that Bush has now released the entire set of findings, claim that he is "hiding something" because he has "cherry-picked" what to release. That is false, because he hasn't released ANY of the raw data, and he has released ALL of the conclusions (findings).

The democrats, knowing Bush could never declassify the rest of the document, have used the fact that he can't to now claim he's hiding stuff from us to protect himself. The media is smart enough to know better, but they go along because it suits their goals.

That is what I said before, that is what I meant, and it is neither weaselly, or unclear, or a spin.

I'll stop repeating myself now.

charles said:


Do you believe that us leaving Iraq now would NOT be perceived as a Jihadist success?

charles said:


Before we invaded Iraq, the terrorists most certainly did not consider Iraq a cause. The terrorists were making Afghanistan into a cause, and were also using the successful 9/11 attacks as a recruiting tool. They were able to launch several other successful terror attacks around the world which gave them additional things to cheer about.

I believe there was a successful attack on a French ship during that time as well.

It wasn't until we invaded and occupied Iraq that Iraq became the focus of the war on terror. That was our doing.

But that doesn't mean the terrorists weren't growing, and didn't have a focus, before we went into Iraq.

zimzo said:

What has been released is quite clear, Charles. Every day we stay in Iraq creates more terrorists. The only way to stop creating more terrorists is to pull out or win. Since winning is impossible our only choice is to pull out as quickly as possible.

Democrats didn't create this mess. President Bush did, repeatedly going against the advice of his military. He still believes we are on the right course and says he will not change his mind even if Laura and Barney are the only people who agree with him. The only way to stop Bush at this point is to elect a Democratic Congress.

As far as Vince Foster goes, I reiterate my point about only nutcases thinking that he did not kill himself.

zimzo said:

Read this account of the new book by Bob Woodward, who wrote two fawning portraits of Bush, for an idea of just how dire the situation is in Iraq and just how out of touch and megalomaniacal Bush is:

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:


"There is the difference: we are civilized, and they are not. It may be superficial, but it keeps us from murdering people over a few cartoons."

ok, they react to cartoons by burning some stuff up and some people get killed. That's ridiculous.

We respond to an attack by 19 hijackers by killing thousands of people in an unrelated country, and spend the next several years trying to rationalize that decision. That's also ridiculous.

so what's civilized?

You have a nice list of reasons for war. I don't think many of them would have satisfactory justified war before 9/11. You can't destroy a state on the grounds that it has missiles without a 9/11 to radicalize the population first, see.

It appears that there was an attempted attack in Canada, so you're right there. But I think you missed or avoided the point of that quote. I don't think the point was simply to say that they haven't attacked Canada, but that it's too simplistic to think that they are evil for the sake of being evil; reality is more complicated than that black-and-white model allows for.

I feel like your thinking on this is a bit narrow. I'm sure there are Arab guys who are a lot like you in that they insist on framing the west in the worst possible light. Maybe you and them ought to have a dialogue? Have you ever discussed any of these ideas with a Muslim?

charles said:

zimzo, if Iraq dissappeared today as an issue, it wouldn't stop the increase of terrorists. They would simply choose a DIFFERENT reason to stir up their troops.

How many new terrorists did the Pope create by pointing out that you shouldn't spread religion by the sword?

OUR EXISTANCE is what creates terrorists. Our way of life, our religion, our freedom, all stirs anger and resentment in a portion of the population.

Democrats voted with Repubicans in authorizing AMERICA to go to war in Iraq. Somalia wasn't Clinton's war, it was AMERICA'S war. Vietnam was AMERICA's war. Kosovo was AMERICA's war. Afghanistan was AMERICA's war. Iraq is AMERICA's war.

That's not a blame, it's just what it is. I don't blame democrats, I don't blame republicans, I blame us, all of us, because our government represents all of us. The terrorists aren't looking to just kill republicans.

Woodward's first two books were not "fawning portraits" of Bush, they simply didn't call him the devil. We've way to personalized our politics, and now we can't have a rational conversation.

Vince Foster killed himself. I don't think I've ever said otherwise, that was someone else.

SO I ask my simple question again: Would pulling out not be seen as a jihadist victory?

Or a simpler question: Do you really think that, if we simply put Iraq back, the terrorists would dissappear?

Or phrased differently, do you really believe what you just said, that pulling out of Iraq would "stop creating more terrorists?"

I certainly don't.

Jack said:


In fact, I have discussed this with a Muslim co-worker.

Perhaps the nation was not willing to see the risk Iraq posed before 9/11, but the risk was there nevertheless, and the reasons were valid, too. We were just a nation of weenies before 9/11, and we're going back to being a nation of weenies, led by weenie Democrats who say it's impossible for us to win.

Yes, Vince Foster killed himself, with two bullets that were never found.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

weenies, huh?

This is an interesting article about Woodward's new book, from a fair and balanced news source, which ties in nicely with the discussion in this thread, even mentions Rumsfeld's determination to "transform" the military (as discussed in the "Rebuilding America's Defenses" article) :

Jack said:

Bob Woodward lost all credibility when he purported to interview William Casey (who was in a coma) just before he died. In a TV interview, Woodward couldn't even say which side of the room Casey's bed was on.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

ha. Jack, for some reason I picture you as a bull. Well, I guess we always find rationalizations for not changing our world-views, huh?

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