Facets of Four World Wars
Forming a Strategic Resistance and the Fuller Catholic Witness
DR. ROBERT HICKSON
- Part I -
The foundational insights of three recent books and a few added reports from reality may help us consider the kind of war we are in, or the kind of wider war - World War IV - we may soon be in. With this knowledge, we may better take intelligent and well-proportioned action, and likewise offer a wiser and more differentiated defense-in-depth and moral and strategic resistance.
We propose therefore to contrast and counterpoint these three varied and candid studies of War (each one of them written by a Roman Catholic scholar) and to offer some additional strategic - cultural commentary which may be supplementarily helpful. This proposed commentary derives from the military experience and earlier strategic intelligence studies of other scholars, such as James Burnham.
For example, Burnham once helped us to understand the Third World War and the deeper meaning behind the Soviet “methods of multi-dimensional warfare” and their “two-zone doctrine”: i.e., “the zone of peace” (the Communist sphere) and the “zone of war” (their revolutionary struggle and “war of liberation” within the non-Communist sphere). He always reminded us, as in his book The War We Are In (1967), that “The meaning of ‘peaceful coexistence’ must be understood within the system of revolutionary dialectic” (pages 19-20 - my emphasis added). So, too, today, with Islam and with some parts of Judaism, especially Zionism, both Jewish and Christian Zionism, in light of their fevered intensities and often deceitful dialectics. Some say this latter Dialectic is part of the Fourth World War.
The Israeli General, Yehoshafat Harkabi, also understood this danger and fever of false dichotomies and false dialectics, and he expressed the matter eloquently in his candid and cautionary book, Israel's Fateful Hour (1988 - 1986 in the original Hebrew edition), some twenty years ago.
In 1988, General Harkabi was “a Witness”, as also Whittaker Chambers once was. In 1952, in his own book, entitled Witness, Chambers wrote a “Forward in the Form of a Letter to My Children”:
As Dr. Samuel Johnson used to say: “The final test is martyrdom.”
Moreover, Chambers's Epigraph to his book was from Shakespeare's Hamlet (I,i), the words of Horatio: “If thou art privy to thy country's fate, which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, O speak __”! And the poignant Dedication of his Witness was to his wife: “To my wife, infinitely loving and infinitely beloved.”
General Harkabi was a faithful Jew. Whittaker Chambers was a faithful Protestant Christian.
Both of these courageous and deeply merciful men were also men of affirmation, with the vital integrity of true Witnesses.
When one reads General Harkabi one is reminded of the mercy of the Old Testament Prophets. With his deep sense of justice he called his own people to a moral and strategic “course correction,” before it was too late. He firmly combated their self-destructive, stiff-necked intransigence and their unwisely exclusive “Jabotinsky Doctrine” of the “Iron Wall.”
Like General Harkabi - though in a less obviously religious way - Naomi Klein bears a comparable Jewish Witness today. For example, in her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, she shows deep mercy for the vulnerable and humiliated Palestinians in Israel. She, too, gives a moral warning to Israel, which she forthrightly characterizes as “the Standing Disaster Apartheid State” (541), and which she further presents to us as a kind of Counter-Intelligence-and-Surveillance Police State. She courageously warns Israel - and she also warns us - about the long-range consequences of the protracted and humiliating Jewish injustices, and about Israel's ongoing “disposal process” (559): the disposal of its seemingly “surplus humanity” (559), “the disposable poor” (562). Such is her Jewish Witness.
Her warning is also to us in America. For, she speaks about the danger of our own “disaster apartheid future” (533) in the United States, in “gated communities” which are secured by private “paramilitaries.”
Naomi Klein's book on “the Disaster Capitalism Complex” - which she sees as a further development of “the Military Industrial Complex” - is a study of interwoven and insidiously applied psychological, economic, and military forms of “Shock Doctrine;” and of how they produce, in combination, embittering injustices - as did the 1919 Treaty of Versailles and the Treaty of Trianon.
She speaks, moreover, of a “far subtler sabotage” (251) and resulting debt-bondage that are now achievable - even against entire nations - by Neo-Liberal Capitalism's instruments of economic warfare and financial warfare. These deceitful and designedly shocking instrumentalities produce a humiliating subjugation to certain “Oligarchs” who have “imperial levels of wealth and power” (291). Using the apt phrase of Joseph Stiglitz, Naomi Klein even speaks of how “the Market Bolsheviks” (283) produce a kind of new caste system or cynical neo-feudalism in the service of a soft and pampered “Plutonomy” (496-498). Like Burnham with respect to what he called the Third World War and the Communist “revolutionary dialectic,” she also helps us to get “inside the logic of Disaster Capitalists” (501) and to see their frigid cynicism. What she depicts might well be aspects or anticipations of the Fourth World War, as we shall soon more fully consider.
What is especially noteworthy about Klein's analysis from the vantage point of a fuller Catholic Witness is that Naomi Klein's acute critique of this updated, new form of “Manchester Liberalism” (and hence a development of David Ricardo's earlier “iron law of wages”) also constitutes a surprisingly effective, implicit defense of traditional Catholic Social and Economic Doctrine, especially a defense of National Economies, in opposition to the manifest “social solvents” of Economic Neo-Liberalism. One may easily consult, for example, the comparably critical, earlier economic writings and warnings of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI. The latter Pope himself also especially criticized, back in 1931, the larger dangers of an unaccountable “Financial Oligarchy.”
Beyond Sophistries, Incitements and Dialectics
This strategic inquiry and review of three Catholic authors - Sniegoski, Scheuer, and Buchanan - especially proposes to depict their own moral and growing resistance to current sophistries and imprudently feverish incitements to war; and to the lure of deceitful dialectics and the trap of false dichotomies.
A moral and strategic resistance to specious Sophistry and the Lie is always needed. Alexander Solzhenitsyn once helped us understand the need “to come out from under the rubble” and, no matter what, to resolve “not to participate in the lie” - and thereby to shun “the asphyxiation of untruth.” As a Russian Orthodox Christian, he, too, was a courageous Witness; and he was also very intelligent and strategic in his moral resistance.
Even those who are not students of military history and strategy have usually heard of certain words of Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz: 1) about knowing one's enemy and oneself, the strengths and virtues of both, as well as his and our own weaknesses and vices; 2) about knowing how war is based upon (and often conducted with) deception; and 3) about how the most important thing to know before entering into a war - or even after finding oneself suddenly in a war and unprepared - is to know “the kind of war you are in.” In a sense, if someone is at war with you - even if you don't know it - you are at war. Reality, it has been said, is that which doesn't go away even when you stop thinking about it.
World War IV
Analogously, and now over sixty years ago, James Burnham began his own illuminating book, The Struggle for the World (1947), with the following words:
The title of the Chapter with which Burnham's book began, and in which the above words occur, is entitled “The Immaturity of the United States.”
Moreover, throughout his book, Burnham was trying to discern “the Main Line of World Politics” (the title of his Chapter 10) and thus “the key to the situation.”
At the beginning of that tenth chapter, Burnham clarifies this latter concept in a way which should help us, even now, in evaluating the three main books we shall be discussing and the facets of truth (the unveiling of reality) which they in various ways have disclosed.
The Great Captains of military history, varied as they have been in every other respect, have all been noted for their grasp of what military writers call “the key to the situation.” At each level of military struggle, from a brief skirmish to the grand strategy of a war or series of wars, they have understood that there is one crucial element which is the key to the situation .... the secret of his genius is to know the key, to have it always in mind, and to reserve his supreme exertion for the key, for what decides the issue. The principles of political struggle are identical with those of military struggle. Success in both political knowledge and political practice depends finally, as in military affairs, upon the grasp of the key to the situation .... The great political leader (who is often also a great captain) - Pericles or the elder Cato or Mohammed or Caesar or Henry of Navarre or Bismarck or Hamilton or Lenin or Innocent III or the younger Pitt - focuses on the key .... He knows, in each political phase, what is the central challenge .... For a given nation, the political key is located sometimes among internal, sometimes among foreign affairs (130-131).
How should we today consider the political, as well as the military, “key to the situation”? And, how should we adequately periodize and discern the phases of the political-military struggle, or “world war,” we are in?
One of James Burnham's earlier books, published a little over forty years ago, will help us understand the grand-strategic “phases” of one such great struggle and its “defining incidents” as parts of a larger “protracted war”.
In 1967, twenty years after his book The Struggle for the World, James Burnham published The War We Are In, in which he clarifies, in the longer light of history and by further specific examples, our understanding of various strategic “phases of a political-military struggle.” He says:
In his 1967 book, Burnham had finally revealed that “The analysis of communist and Soviet intentions in Part I of The Struggle for the World was originally part of a secret study prepared for the Office of Strategic Services [O.S.S.] in the spring of 1944” (10).
After first acknowledging an excellent recent work by a French analyst, André Fontaine, whose “first volume [of several] was published in France with the title: Histoire de la guerre froide: De la Révolution d'Octobre á la guerre de Corée [History of the Cold War: From the October Revolution to the Korean War],” Burnham then says in his own first chapter of The War We Are In (1967), as follows:
In light of Burnham's categories and strategic insights, a comparative review of our three chosen books under review will also aid our deeper understanding of some current, long-range struggles - such as the putative existence of a Fourth World War. This understanding will thereby enhance our mature and appropriately differentiated response to them, for it is often true that “contrast clarifies the mind.”
All three of these books should be, I believe, not only attentively read, but also deeply savoured and thus more gratefully appreciated. For, there are many “Reports from Reality” in these three volumes, and much disciplined research and moral courage and articulated candour has gone into their presentation - as was the case with James Burnham himself in earlier times.
Let us now turn again to Sniegoski and his patient analysis.
Concerning Eliot Cohen's above-quoted claim, namely his momentous claim about the 2001 advent of “World War IV,” Stephen Sniegoski further shows us that
Presenting now the counterpointed thought of both Cohen and Podhoretz, Sniegoski clarifies our fuller understanding of this concept:
Not long after Cohen's unequivocal words, Norman Podhoretz supportively published his own article in Commentary, in the issue of February 2002, and entitled it “How to Win World War IV.” Sniegoski now speaks of this, and then of some of Podhoretz's later writings, as well:
Summing up these passionate words and unmistakable incitements, Sniegoski says:
Where the specific portions of Islam are which are non-militant, Podhoretz never makes strategically clear.
Reminding us of the temporal and logical sequence of the mutually reinforcing Cohen and Podhoretz articles - i.e., November 2001 and February 2002 - Sniegoski notes, in addition, some other manifestations of the new grand-strategic theme of “World War IV”:
On 3 April 2003, Woolsey had also earlier said - as quoted by Sniegoski - that “the United States is engaged in World War IV, and that it could continue for years” and, moreover: “This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World War I or II did for us. Hopefully not the full four-plus decades of the Cold War” (194).
In the September 2002 issue of Commentary, Norman Podhoretz had made even more specific the targets in this World War IV. Podhoretz's article is entitled “In Praise of the Bush Doctrine,” which Sniegoski now quotes, in part, and then adds his own comments:
It would seem that all of these ethnically aligned grand-strategic proponents of World War IV are especially anxious about the long-term security of Israel, and also especially attentive to the national interests of the Jewish State, which is certainly more and more vulnerable, at least demographically and also because of its geography. They also therefore wish to engage - and instrumentalise - the purported strengths of the United States and its Military to help combat and defeat, or at least to weaken, the circumambient enemies of Israel.
Dr. Sniegoski shows, through his admirably careful accumulation of detailed empirical evidence, that a well-organized, well-financed, intelligent and closely networking, quantitative minority - which he calls the “Neoconservatives,” or the “Neocons” - has been somehow able to re-direct traditional American foreign policy and strategy in order to advance a World War IV agenda. It is an agenda, moreover, which promotes, not stability and rootedness and slow fruitfulness in the Middle East (or elsewhere), but, rather, a sort of Shock-and-Awe Therapy which actually promotes a regressive de-stabilization and fragmentation and the formation of weak “statelets” or new ethnic feudalities and “dhimmis” which can themselves then, purportedly, be more easily “managed” and subjugated and played destructively against one another.
In other words, as Colonel T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) might say, it is intending to establish a new kind of “Ottomanization” or “millet system.” This implicit agenda also recalls how the traditional British Grand-Strategy always tried to play the outer ring of non-Arabic Muslims against the inner ring of Arabic Muslims.
Just as the British after World War I intentionally broke up a potentially consolidated Kurdish ethnicity, and distributed its designated fragments across the newly drawn borders of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and the like; so, too, the Israelis and some of their Neoconservative acolytes would now like to have a tripartite dismemberment (or “partition”) of Iraq into Kurdish, Sunni, and Shi'ite regions, constituting at least a weaker new political Confederation in Iraq and even re-constituting some of its smaller tribal feudalities (which the recent American military “surge” has also effectively promoted, if not by design, at least as one of the “fruits”). Some “Neocons” even want the fragmenting dismemberment of Saudi Arabia, splitting off, for example, the oil-rich eastern section of the Wahhabi Monarchy, the eastern portion of which now also contains many anti-Wahhabi Shi'ites.
Whether or not these Grand-Strategic “Chaos Managers” can achieve their goals, without thereby sabotaging themselves and the things they cherish, is another matter. Michael Scheuer, for example, sees an increasing Islamist migration and encroachment of Israel itself because the secular Ba'athist regimes in Iraq and Syria have been removed or humiliated and weakened. That is to say, the more secular Arab Ba'athist barriers against more radical Islamist action have been razed or helpfully lowered. Iraq, for example, is now a permeable conduit for, not a barrier against, migrations and hostile infiltration.
"Masters of Discourse"
Sniegoski shows how the key neoconservatives thinkers who have advocated an offensive strategy, and have especially accentuated the principle of war of “the offensive” (i.e., “to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative”), derive their strategic insights - though with different objects and targets - from some of the earlier Anti-Communist Strategists, such as James Burnham himself. Like Irving Kristol, his former colleague in the C.I.A.'s Congress for Cultural Freedom (est. 1950), Burnham was also a former Trotskyite. (In my presence on one occasion - it was in the early 1990s as I recall - Irving Kristol very admiringly spoke of Burnham, saying also that Burnham's 1964 book, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism, “is a Classic, but no one ever speaks of it anymore.”)
Speaking of the neoconservatives' earlier and then-growing influence in the Reagan administration, Sniegoski says:
So magnanimously - and so characteristically - Steve Sniegoski shows the strengths and true achievements of those whom he would often later oppose and actively resist.
From personal experience in the earlier Conservative Movement, as it was called, I can confirm what Dr. Sniegoski says. Many of the Traditional Conservatives - now sometimes called “Paleoconservatives” - were entirely too passive and often slothful and cravenly accommodating to the Soviet Empire - also on the Cultural Front - as if they were, along with the cynical Henry Kissinger, effectively “managing our decline,” if not themselves openly and tepidly making a “pre-emptive surrender.”
By contrast, it was the intelligent and energetic and strategically networked Neoconservatives who wanted to take the initiative against the Soviet Union, who wanted to take away the Soviet Empire's “freedom of maneuver” and “freedom of action.” Truth requires that we acknowledge these facts, even though, “after the Cold War,” the Neoconservatives put their further initiatives to different ends within “the Emerging American Imperium” (which are Irving Kristol's own words). We then gradually moved from “Humanitarian Interventionism” to “Pre-Emptive” - or even “Preventive” - Wars.
Some of us, however, still assent to the profound earlier insight and foresight of Whittaker Chambers (d. 1961) in his posthumously published book, Cold Friday (1964), wherein he says that one of the ways in which the West could really lose the Cold War and subtly be defeated by the Soviet Union and its Fundamental, Dynamic Doctrine of “Historical Materialism” and “DIAMAT” (“Dialectical Materialism”) was by increasingly coming to imitate what we were purportedly fighting against. Let us only behold our current Mammonite Ethos and Way of Life, and our coarser forms and circumambient manifestations of “the Anti-Civilization of the Orcs,” in a manner of speaking. And let us then re-consider what Chambers himself said fifty years ago.
In his profound Chapter in Cold Friday, entitled “The Direct Glance,” Whittaker Chambers wrote the following:
In his own clarifying footnote (number 50, in Chapter 3), Sniegoski speaks more about the concept of a “war-winning strategy,” both as it was applied earlier in the post-World War II years and then later against the Soviet Union, especially while we were covertly operating from within Afghanistan, starting around 1979 and continuing throughout the 1980s and into the early 1990s:
Israel Adam Shamir, the Israeli Greek Orthodox Christian, would well recognize these unmistakably intelligent Neoconservatives - who are also sometimes very artful sophists - and he would place them promptly in his own linguistic-strategic category: among “the Masters of Discourse” - i.e., the Sophistic Subverters of Logos.
"Creative Destruction" & "Messianic Politics"
Indeed, Michael A. Ledeen is a special case - and an a fortiori supportive personal testimony - of Dr. Sniegoski's designedly oxymoronic book-title, The Transparent Cabal. For, Sniegoski thereby emphasizes that the neoconservatives, though having at times sarcastically called themselves a “Cabal,” have very openly expressed their essential views: what they generally wanted to do, what they specifically intended to do, and how, fundamentally, they would go about doing it. Michael Ledeen has done this more than most, and often very unequivocally.
Dr. Sniegoski himself says:
In his explanatory footnote, Sniegoski adds:
Michael Ledeen is also (like James Burnham) an eloquent admirer of Machiavelli, and has written a book on his historical and contemporary importance, entitled Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules Are As Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago (1999, 2000). Ledeen is very attentive to the effective uses of power. He, too, would have us combine the qualities of “the Lion and the Fox,” and, with “virtú,” boldly use the elements of “force and fraud.”
Three distinct and trenchant excerpts from Ledeen's The War Against the Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win will be especially revealing of these politically artful factors in our current context of war, although they are not specifically quoted by Sniegoski in his own analysis. For example, Ledeen says:
It would seem that Ledeen would be a little shaky about the return of a Christian Order or any form of Christendom, and he might even shift sides then to the “more tolerant” rival civilization. (For a candid and contrasting and highly differentiated view by the noted Jewish Israeli scholar and former chief of Israeli Military Intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi, one should read his Israel's Fateful Hour , especially Chapter 5, entitled “Nationalistic Judaism,” where he quotes at length even Moses Maimonides, who himself, after much experience, had a different opinion from Michael Ledeen. Dr. Sniegoski, however, does not quote from General Harkabi's important Chapter 5, which would have further strengthened his own keen analysis and argument.)
Ledeen, in his The War Against the Terror Masters, also shows his inclination for “psychological destabilization” (his phrase) and for even larger “social engineering”:
When a thoughtful reader savours this passage, he may ask: “Who is this 'we' and who is this 'our,' as in 'our middle name' and 'our historic mission'”? Ledeen certainly affirms that the essence of “American character and the American tradition” is some form of “Messianic Politics,” and maybe also an Insolent Intrusiveness and Restless Rootlessness, which also usually tends to uproot others. (This combination also suggests what Christendom once called the Deadly Sin of “Spiritual Sloth,” Acedia, which is especially marked by evagatio mentis - i.e., “a roaming unrest of spirit” and a quenching of the state of Grace - according to St. Thomas Aquinas.) The reader may also fittingly ask, therefore, “Who really is the Enemy here?” To what extent should others, not only Muslims, consider Michael Ledeen himself to be “an Enemy”? For, he would promote, indeed, our own “roaming unrest of spirit” and also inflict that revolutionary “mercurian rootlessness” upon others.
The Neocon-Israeli Apparatus vs America
Furthermore, says Ledeen:
So, too, will the Americans be crushed, he implies, if “we” don't have and don't exercise such “military virtue.” (Or, as I would put it, we shall be defeated, for sure, if we unwisely overextend ourselves in unjust wars and exhaust our military and our own resources in wars that do not serve America's vital interests but, rather, the security interests primarily of Israel or of others. Moreover, if we fight, we must, as a nation, have achievable war aims and peace aims, and also resolutely intend to win, measurably so.)
Ledeen's strong words, however, partly resemble James Burnham's own 1964 analysis of the ideology of Liberalism, in that Burnham also saw what Dr. Fritz Kraemer himself often used to call the special vulnerability of “provocative weakness.” That is to say, “We are getting so weak - so decadent - that we are provocative to others.” But, Burnham was further convinced that the enfeebling ideology of Liberalism went even further than that, and tended “to hand the weapons over to its own assassins.” There is much truth in what he wrote.
However, unlike Burnham, and more like the aggressive Winston Churchill before him, Michael Ledeen seems much too inattentive to the blind spots and self-sabotaging actions of “toughness,” of reckless Machtpolitik itself, and he fails to recognize the accompanying Myopia of Cynicism and of mere “Power without Grace” (Evelyn Waugh) - most especially when the religious motivations of one's enemies are so facilely trivialized and mocked and not clearly understood, nor adequately taken into account.
Michael Ledeen and the other Neoconservatives whom Dr. Sniegoski closely analyzes and counterpoints are certainly what Ernest Hemmingway called “the Overreachers.” They certainly have “Imperial Hubris” (Michael Scheuer). In order to confirm this judgment, one need only read, not just Ledeen's books, but also Richard Perle and David Frum's words in their fevered book An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, published in 2003, and which Sniegoski illustratively quotes (189). Alternatively, one may read the strategic essays and books of the Neoconservative Classics Professor, Victor Davis Hanson (205), who is of Gentile Heritage and an explicit enemy of the Saudis (205). Michael Scheuer, as we shall see, is also an opponent of the hypocritical and tyrannical Saudi Regime, or “Police State,” but for different reasons and with an entirely different sense of proportion and strategic intention.
When one understands Dr. Sniegoski's central argument about the Neocon-Israeli Likud Apparatus and the 1982 Oded Yinon Strategy for de-stabilizing and fragmenting the enemies of Israel - i.e., those earlier and current anti-Israel consolidations in the Middle East - then one also better knows how to interpret Michael Ledeen's incisive words, published on 20 September 2001, in National Review Online, just shortly after the 9/11 attacks and before his own, already quoted and more elaborated book. In his own book, Dr. Sniegoski revealingly quotes Ledeen's earlier essay, entitled “Creative Destruction”:
“Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically .... It is time once again to export the democratic revolution.”
Indeed, Israel might now find itself even more encroached by more radicalized and more deeply dedicated Islamists - as they infiltrate even across the permeable “strategic thresholds” of Jordan and through Lebanon and into the now further-weakened and humiliated Ba'athist (Alawite-Secularist) regime in Syria.
Will this encroachment and permeation be part of the “Blowback” on the Neocon-Israel Apparatus itself? (General Harkabi, in 1988 and before, had predicted this.) And will this “Blowback” consequently make them more dangerously desperate and more willing and ready to use their more “advanced weapons” - also against Iran, for example, while imperiously claiming, once again, that there now exists “a supreme emergency” for Israel?
"Democratization": Illusion and Deceit
This purported “democratizing” goal, as Dr. Sniegoski's book also shows, was not only an illusion, but a deceit. It was a plausible Sophistry intended to get the United States further committed and “positioned” in the Middle East (and in Central Asia) against the enemies of Israel, and to cross a threshold, therefore, from which it would be very difficult for America to pull back.
Now we are there. It recalls Colonel T.E. Lawrence's post-World War I “Report on Mesopotamia” (Sunday Times, 2 August 1920), which begins: “The people of England have been led into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour.”
In Part II we will consider Michael Scheuer's candid book, Marching Toward Hell, where he, too, mentions the insights of Colonel Lawrence (on page 299) - and helps us to understand better our perceived and actual enemies, and their well-rooted motivations.
Continued next month.