"Derek J. Harvey was the first Director of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Center of Excellence at U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and a retired United States Army Colonel. He was selected by General David Petraeus in 2009 to lead the new organization. Harvey is a Senior Executive Service-member of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and was the previous senior analytical specialist for Iraq to Petraeus, then Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq."
wiki on Harvey
A very odd biographical wiki. It doesn't say much of anything about him. It is as though he was born anew when he came to Petraeus' attention as a briefer/analyst working in the big FOB at the Baghdad airport. Usually these things describe your life, parentage, education, marriage, etc. There is none of that. It is also rather out of date, being from the time when Mike Flynn brought him into DIA as a member of the Senior Executive Service.
I have known DH for a very long time.
- He evidently does not like to talk about his service in DIA as a captain in the late '80s. He was then a very green junior analyst in the Current Intelligence branch of DIA down in the basement of the Pentagon. Bob Woodward in "The War Within…" writes that in the late 80s Harvey wandered the back roads in Iraq traveling about 500 miles, chatting with villagers, headmen and tribal leaders to learn what the true state of affairs might be. This is untrue. If Harvey told Woodward that, he lied IMO. Saddam was then fully in power and an American who wandered in Iraq would shortly have been in prison or worse. No, Harvey was scribbling away in his basement cubicle in the Pentagon and hanging around my upstairs offices whenever my staff were silly enough to let him in through the alarmed door. I finally banned him from the office suite because he had no legitimate business there other than to try to obtain tutoring from me.
- I should be clear about his supposed adventures in Saddam's Iraq. Nobody in DIA would have sent or allowed this junior desk jockey to go do anything of the kind. He would have required orders in writing to make this trip. A number of people would have been needed as signatures on the permission, among them, me, and that never happened. If there had been official orders they would have required the allocation of funds in the orders. The idea that DIA would have funded this is laughable. If he had gone to Iraq on leave without permission the Iraqi police would have picked him up at the point of entry. In any event he would have needed the permission of the US ambassador and the US DATT to be in the country. That never happened either. In other words he seems to have built a "Harvey of Iraq" legend about himself out of whole cloth.
- He speaks no Arabic. None. That would have made his Laurentian or Munchausian adventures somewhat more difficult. In some web bios he is said to have an elementary knowledge of French and Farsi. Farsi? How would that have happened?
- He does not seem to have ever had any training as a field intelligence collector.
- He does not seem to have been board selected for senior Army schools like C&GSC and the War College. Perhaps he did these schools by correspondence or was given constructive credit for "experience?"
- So far as I know he never served in a Middle East or North African country before 9/11.
- His teaching job at South Florida University does not seem to have involved teaching about the Middle East. It was something about management that he taught.
Well, pilgrims, perhaps I have all this wrong, if so, then I will welcome your corrections. I am sure there will be some.
In the present instance of his dismissal from the NSC staff it is now clear to me that he thought he could wrestle control of the ME policy function away from McMaster and Mattis. He seems to have believed that he could do that with the slick persuasiveness that had worked so well for so long on so many and with the support of his neocon patrons.
Here is the statement he released yesterday on the occasion of his departure for greener pastures:
"Subject: Derek Harvey – Statement
I will be leaving the National Security Council today to take advantage of a new opportunity to continue serving our President and the United States of America in an important capacity.
Since January, I have had the special honor to serve as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Middle East Affairs in the National Security Council. This has been work of vital importance to our country, and my departure comes with mixed emotions. In addition to the criticality of the mission, the people I have worked with in the NSC and the White House make this a tough decision.
I have known LTG H.R. McMaster for many years, and H.R. and I have worked closely together to tackle some of our nation's most difficult challenges. I value our friendship and deeply respect his visionary leadership. I look forward to working with H.R. in my future capacity. I have also appreciated the chance to work with the superb, selfless professionals on our team at the NSC, an amazing group of American patriots who have been instrumental in supporting the President, integrating U.S. policies toward the Middle East, and developing a series of strategies to protect and advance American interests in the region.
I treasure having had the opportunity to support committed and visionary leaders such as Mrs. K.T. McFarland, Mr. Jared Kushner, and Mr. Steve Bannon, and consummate professionals like Mr. Jason Greenblatt and Ms. Dina Powell. I am especially grateful for the Middle East Directorate and those on the NSC with whom we have worked so closely and with such great effect. I remain humbled by their dedication, commitment, and patriotism and wish them all the very best as they face the challenges ahead.
Most importantly, I am excited about the opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East under President Trump's leadership, and I look forward to shouldering greater responsibilities in support of the President.
Derek J. Harvey
Special Assistant to the President
Near East Region"
Not surprising; that fellow, Pollack, of “The Coming Storm” fame, repackaged himself as an Iran-analyst – never having been to Iran, not knowing Persian, and not being able to comprehend – for religious as well as ideological reasons – that country.
Yet he was influential in forming US policy under Obama.
At least he didn’t call Kushner & Bannon consumate professionals, while using criticality in a sentence.
Many thanks for this. How common is it in your experience for a weasel like Harvey to get as far as he did where he did for as long as he did?
This is up from yesterday on Harvey’s dismissal: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/27/derek-harvey-trump-middle-east-adviser-dismissed-241037
Here is a revealing quote from the article: “Harvey was viewed as one of Trump’s more hawkish foreign policy advisers—particularly on Iran, whose leadership he has studied closely and which he recommends confronting more aggressively. He has also been a staunch critic of the Iran nuclear deal…. Many military officials consider him the government’s most knowledgeable source on the Sunni insurgency in Iraq and Syria.”
This level of self-promotion is unusual in one so specialized. pl
I have seen the equivalent in the science arena. I know of at least 2 biodefense scientists who were so bad at getting funding for projects they were moved over to management positions. This is what happens with permanent GS civilians. You can’t fire them so you move them to relatively harmless positions such as program managers or outreach program people. After 9/11 Congress in their wisdom decided we needed yet another mother of all government agencies and created the Department of Homeland Security. However, they failed to create any permanent GS slots to put into this agency. So, every government agency was required to move authorized/obligated positions over to DHS and this would include any personnel currently holding those slots. No one would ever give up good and productive people so all the dregs were moved over to DHS. This might help explain why DHS has been so screwed up from the get go. As you might expect these 2 scientists were moved over to senior positions and eventually slimed their way to the top and became SES scientific managers and ultimately heads of programs. Kissing ass works well for a lot of people especially when the ass you are kissing is more incompetent that you are. This might explain why the DHS biodefense programs are so screwed up. One of them is now over at FDA working hard to screw that agency up and the other went over to DHHS (NIH) where they are working hard to screw that up as well. A few very rare people went over to DHS who were good and did it voluntarily but they eventually regretted it having to work for these former loser scientists.There are no smiling faces at DHS.
I might be becoming a conspiracy nut in my old age. Could it be that this fellow was promoted and placed as part of an infiltration operation? There are so many claims on his vita which could have been verified with minimal effort. Were these not checked? Could it be that they were checked and the discrepancies were being used for control?
In a similar vein how can the entire US Senate minus 2 vote for a sanctions proposal which is patently and demonstrably based on false premises?
Legend in his own mind. How many more like him are influencing/making foreign policy decisions? Scary.
Nice take down pl.
Farsi? How would that have happened?
When playing back-gammon as it is played in the region? I joke, of course. But I remember playing the game (known in the area as Nard(y)) All numbers (combinations) of dice were called out loud in Farsi. Everybody in Caucasus pretty much knew counting to six in Farsi plus some additional (proprietary)names of numbers’ combinations. Sadly, I forgot that–I don’t play backgammon in its “westernized” configuration–the board has to be done in a specific way. But, probably, would recall numbers and titles given couple of games with native speakers pretty fast.
committed and visionary leaders such as Mrs. K.T. McFarland
Yep, Troia who went MIA since 1985 after marrying a rich banker and became more or less a socialite only to resurface in 2006.
Envoy Jason Greenblatt who couldn’t do much last WE about the hot spot of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and Bibi had to remove his electronic gear to “control the Arab Muslims”. Jared would have loved to accompany him on that school trip but he was busy on the Hill.
This may be a good read:
When it comes to Iran, Harvey has articulated a tough line, but there is a fair amount of bipartisan support for this in Washington. When he turns his attention to other issues, however, Harvey offers a curious set of dubious assertions and contradictory claims, wrapped up in a troubling lack of knowledge about the region for which he is now primarily responsible. Needless to say, this combination is bad for U.S.-Middle East policy.
Hope someone at the White House reads this. It is delicious.
No wonder policy is so screwed up when “weasels” like this one get up to positions of influence.
The Board must be of hard wood ( specific species) and the dice must be small ( like 1/4 in) made of tusk, so one can hear an specific sound of rolling dice. The board is called Takhteh ( board made of wood) Nard
Reminds of that other paragon of ME knowledge Larry Franklin.
Breaking: Trump’s fired Priebus, hired John Kelly as Chief of Staff.
“My hunch is that Reince Priebus will be gone by the end of August along with Sean Spicer and most of their RNC team of White House leakers.” ~ Conservative Treehouse, July 23rd
Sounds like Trump’s trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. If you don’t get with the Trump program, you’re put out to pasture.
Reince Priebus out, another General in.
“WASHINGTON — Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff who failed to impose order on a chaos-wracked West Wing, was pushed out on Friday after a stormy six-month tenure, and President Trump replaced him with John F. Kelly, the secretary of homeland security and retired four-star Marine genera”
And the bulk was staffed up with any college republican that could fog a mirror. Got to deal with a few of those while developing a bio-particle detector. Basic science seemed to be missing on their resumes. But Moore’s law seemed to apply to everything!
Nobody in the White House will read this, or anything else. They are too busy watching TV. Of course, the old Greeks had a story about somebody who flew too close to the sun.
Got to admire the defensive/defiant tone of the resignation letter, here’s a thought: it was an honor and a privledge to serve, God bless America… IMO ’nuff said
How does does one receive neo-con patronage in the first place? Do you have to marry into the tribe?
Seems like a profitable thing to do and it gets you into places well beyond any formal education or qualifications or merit, it seems.
I have to look into this.
Peter in Toronto
They have had an active recruitment program for at least fifty years. The Wohlstetters pitched me in my Pentagon offices. pl
It is also known as Shesh-Besh (the game–six-five) and every move of the essentially checker has to be loud and fixated in the own nest. Drinking tea from armuda glass is desirable;) You got it right about dice known as zary. It is a ritual of an incredible delight and power.
I think the word for six is the same in both Russian and in Persian.
The expeession “losing at Love’s Nard” is well-known in Persian. (In Love, one wins by losing; as I am sure you know.)
Col. Lang had predicted this months ago.
Yes, it is typical of how the nouveau riche NY City people behave. The older the money, the more hidden the gutter snipe behavior. there will be more like this. pl
I think the word for six is the same in both Russian and in Persian.
It is Shest’ in Russian and Shesh both in Farsi, Azeri and Turkic.
No kidding… Can I press you for an anecdote?
Col, he speaks elementary Farsi, so he is an Iranian menace expert.
Col. Harvey’s autobiography and it’s improbable wanderings in exotic lands seeking hidden wisdom reminds me a lot of another charlatan who went far, namely, L.Ron Hubbard.
“President Donald Trump said his decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military, announced via Twitter on Wednesday morning, came “after consultation with my generals and military experts.” It’s becoming clearer and clearer that he was lying.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis was on vacation when the decision was announced, and privately opposed the move. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. James Dunford, said Thursday that the military wouldn’t implement the ban absent a formal, non-tweeted order from the commander in chief.
And then there were the remarkable remarks that Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley made during a luncheon at the National Press Club.
During the lunch, Milley told reporters that he found out about the ban “the same way everybody else did — on the news.” At the time, he was holding a glass of wine:”
Update: the blue ticks on twitter are reporting Trump ‘sources’ associated with Preibus are saying Trump is moving toward an independent whitehouse detached from the GOP.
In hindsight it was a big mistake for Trump to think he could work with the GOP establishment. Better to rely on business, the military and other outsiders for his staff.
Sessions to DHS and a new AG in? Given the suggestion of a new AG generates such hysteria it would be a wise move.
Brings back memories. The hard wood board inlaid with ivory and mother of pearl and the little ivory dice vigorously thrown and ricocheting wildly. The smacking of the chips on the table; even harder when you “hit” the opponent’s piece or make a “dur” in a strategic slot.
We called the game “tobli”, but we always counted in a mix of Persian, Arabic and a salting of Turkish. There were also proclamations that would be shouted; usually when misfortune befell one’s opponent. “Gehleh”! (sometimes pronounced “Gallah”) when his piece had been hit and then couldn’t get back on the board.
6 and five was “shesh/besh”. 4 and 2 was “juward/du”, But 1 and 2 was “eekie beer”, 1 and 1 was “hap yeck”……
It was said that the game of tobli would reveal a man’s character and that it was a microcosm of life.
But, they probably did have PHD’s but ended up doing nothing later. I agree with you about that. The same things happened over at DTRA, where I have never seen such incompetence. I also ran into similar ignorance with DoS people involved in the BWPPP (counter proliferation program funded under the Nunn-Luger Act). They thought all the former Soviet field labs doing agricultural disease surveillance were bioweapons labs. The labs wer set up to monitor endemic zoonotic disease like anthrax and plague which are relatively common. For years they wanted to get their hands on the “weapon” strains and the local guys figured out pretty quickly how to game it for never ending funding on the promise the strains would be sent “real soon”. I can’t blame them for that. But I can blame these “geniuses” managing these projects for being incompetent.
American policy in regards to everything is easily understood by one basic concept. Follow the money.
Peter in Toronto
As I said the Wohlstetters (Albert and Roberta) came to my office at the direction of “Paul” to explain to me the esoteric meaning of Plato’s Republic and other texts. Roberta laid out a series of books on my coffee table, all written by their friends (Wizards of Armageddon). I argued with them about the meaning of several of Plato’s dialogues and after a while she picked up her books and they left. I had failed the test. Ten years ago I gave a talk at the Miller Center at U Va and at the after event lunch a former colleage of theirs at the U. of Chicago said that they had been doing that there for a very long time. pl
…although Persian is a so beautiful language and so easy to learn (a very logic grammar). Engels (in a letter to Marx) wrote that it could become a “langue universelle toute trouvée” (in French in the text) :
“Since I am in any case tied up with the eastern mummery for some weeks, I have made use of the opportunity to learn Persian. I am put off Arabic, partly by my inborn hatred of Semitic languages, partly by the impossibility of getting anywhere, without considerable expenditure of time, in so extensive a language — one which has 4,000 roots and goes back over 2,000-3,000 years. By comparison, Persian is absolute child’s play. Were it not for that damned Arabic alphabet in which every half dozen letters looks like every other half dozen and the vowels are not written, I would undertake to learn the entire grammar within 48 hours. This for the better encouragement of Pieper should he feel the urge to imitate me in this poor joke. I have set myself a maximum of three weeks for Persian, so if he stakes two months on it he’ll best me anyway. What a pity Weitling can’t speak Persian; he would then have his langue universelle toute trouvie [universal language ready-made] since it is, to my knowledge, the only language where ‘me’ and ‘to me’ are never at odds, the dative and accusative always being the same.”
Source : http://marxists.anu.edu.au/archive/marx/works/1853/letters/53_06_06.htm
Best regards, and sorry for this near-out-of-the-topic precision, PhT
Funny – “Shest” mean thumb in Persian. Or Sixty – depending on the accent of the local dialect.
As a single individual alone accomplishing it, it is rare (just as the opposite is true, extremely talented officers are also rare). However, in a case where the leadership of a Command is rotten, it is not rare at all.
Flynn at DIA IMO was a disaster. His “vision” behind reorganizing was to make DIA mostly an annex of J2 CENTOM. It was so disruptive and counter productive that he was replaced before the normal tour end. Harvey thrived on the CENTOM focused mission. Harvey was not the only questionable person that Flynn bumped up to the senior ranks.
So where did Flynn come from? He made his spurs working with General Petraeus. He bought into Petraeus’s perpetual war, and hearts and minds COIN doctrine (with associated intelligence concept of the “human terrain”). In the end Petraeus also self destructed as a fraud and a very flawed officer.
In turn, Petraeus was a result of President Bush (2). A leader with incredibly poor judgement who brought together an incompetent circus of NeoCons (Chicken Hawks) to wage an unnecessary war in an incoherent manner.
Individual incompetence is rarely a path to senior position. But when the Command is rotten from the top down, it happens more frequently.
And I speak rudimentary Spanish and I am now the foremost expert on the politics of Spain as well as Hispano-american world.
Pretty good, thanks.
There is a saying in Arabic – “Arabi Kamel, Farsi Asal” – Arabic Perfect, Persian Honey.
Does everyone remember Michael “Heck of a Job, Brownie” D. Brown, the first-ever Undersecretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response? His Baptism by Mud in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? Michael D. Brown’s background experience for running a large casualty-management organization was as Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association.
To be fair, he was not so much a weasel as he had others do the promotion for him, which appears to have been based on doglike loyalty and nothing else. You’d be surprised how far that will take you – depending on the character of your leader – in quite a few organizations.
Oh good heavens. Is DH also an amoral libertine as well?
its amusing how Trump makes a mockery of all the Washington rituals. I think that’s what drives the media nuts – he bypasses the established conventions of ‘how things are done.’
Do you recall the esoteric meaning of the Republic that they mentioned?
that Milney didn’t spill the wine deserves praise. Wine is there to be drunken, or to be used in cooking. I understand the decision on transgender to some point.
Still, what wonders me is that that the pentagon learns from such non-trivialities from the press and not from heir CiC. It suggests to me serious dysfunction in communication from the Whitehouse to the rest of the world. And it’s not just that.
Sean ‘The Notable’ Spicer was a joke of a gvt speaker who, at least once, preferred to hide behind bushes to avoid talking to press. For one, Spicer should have known that speaking to the press was his darn job. Alas. As the saying goes, shit happens. Good for the US that that clown is out.
But who did Trump hire as a replacement? Scaramucchi. That man is, from what I read him say, hardly an improvement over Spicer. IMO the crazy nut man was simply replaced by a nutty crazy boy.
IMO Stephen Colbert had it quite right when he said it: Now that the mute man Sean Spicer is out as the non-speaking press speaker, who is now not-answering anybody’s, my, yours and the presses load of questions? Scaramucci perhaps? Answer: Well, nobody, it seems.
So, in lack of communication from their CiC the pentagon is expected to … hallucinate? sleep? dream? Perhaps look at Trump’s tweets?
Well, maybe they should. Maybe Trump will one days tweet really secret and very important things to them that they may miss, like:
;( Nook NoKo ;O
Amusingly, as you posted in your VOX link DH, Trump said he had consulted the military on his transgender ban, but according to the military he didn’t. Oh well. In Trumps own terms: Soooo sad …
It was straight Leo Strauss/neocon stuff. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5010.htm
basically, according to this view the text has hidden meanings that are the opposite of the obvious. pl
I just read that Trump has fired his weirdly named staff chief Rience Priebus, by Twitter.
Usually, a firing of a staff chief is a personal thing, and the relationship is personal. So, unlike what could be seen in Trump’s tv shows, a firing usually – it is after all about ending a contract – goes with a letter, in a bad case perhaps with a deliberate humiliation as in the case of Comey, or a personal talk – but firing by TWITTER, so to speak, en passant? Good grief.
That mess probably not just coincides with the appearance of the new man in the whitehouse – Scaramucchi.
After insulting Priebus, who got fired, Sacramucchi isn’t done yet. After insulting Priebus, he has started to also insult Bannon recently – will he be twittered away, too?
The show hasn’t ended et.
You are kidding? Aren’t you?
Plato’s Republic? The assumed source of later Utopia thinkers?
Random pick, without taking a closer look:
Colonel – this particular neo-con strand seems to go back a long way. Googling Wohlstetter brought up this, a site unknown to me but which amplifies the Wiki entry:-
“Wohlstetter is also said to have sent Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, to work on the staff of Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson, a conservative hawk committed to working on behalf of the US defense industry, and for Wolfowitz and Perle to intern for the Committee to Maintain a Prudent Defense Policy, a Cold War think tank co-founded by former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and former Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze. This is also thought to be precursory moves to the formation of the “Team B” intelligence analysis team as Nitze used Wohlstetter’s assertions in testimony to accuse Henry Kissinger and the CIA of dangerously underestimating the Soviet Union’s military strength and its intentions. As Craig Unger put it:
“This was the beginning of a thirty-year fight against the national security apparatus in which the [neoconservatives] mastered the art of manipulating intelligence in order to implement hard-line, militaristic policies.””
What your anecdote above illustrates is the evangelical zeal with which the neo-cons pushed their views and sought to convert. I had assumed that the neo-cons got out of the basement and into the front office because, figuratively speaking, the front office was empty. That is, that they came to dominate Foreign Policy thinking almost by default, simply because Foreign Policy was not a prime interest of the American voter and therefore could be captured by any strong interest group that happened to be around.
It seems there was more to it than that and that the neo-cons or their precursors actively laid siege to the front office over a long period.
Is this related to the influence exerted on the American intellectual and political scene by continental and in particular Eastern European emigre groups that brought with them the attitudes, and particularly the Russophobia, of their roots?
Such groups remain, as it were, frozen in time, not adapting to changing circumstances and attitudes in their home countries but retaining the old attitudes and approach unaltered.
We see this effect when looking at the Irish diaspora in Australia and the US in the nineteenth century. The historians give great weight to the effect of this diaspora. Without the support of these outside groups, and their rigid adherence to the hard line attitudes they had brought to their new country with them, the Irish revolution would have taken a different and possibly more fruitful course. That applies also to the influence emigre groups exert within the US itself. I believe Syrian emigres from the old Syrian regime were influential in Washington, and their adherence to the grievances and outlook they brought over exerted that influence in Washington out of proportion to their value as true indicators of the up to date circumstances in the ME.
The Ukrainian emigre groups exert a similar influence in Canada and Australia. Again, preserving unaltered the attitudes their forbears brought over with them, they push their host governments strongly to support the ultra-nationalist groups in their country of origin although (my opinion only, but there does seem to be some warrant for it) the average Ukrainian patriot had, before 2014, moved well away from the ultra-nationalism of the 1940’s.
Such groups of emigres, emigre groups whose attitudes are frozen in time and not that well connected to current reality, could perhaps be termed “fossil groups”. In Western countries, unacquainted with and usually uninterested in the contemporary political scene in the foreign countries those fossil groups originate from, they can exert a strong electoral and intellectual influence on the host country. The extremist always wins against the moderate when the moderate’s not that bothered and the extremist is.
Is it going too far to say that the American Foreign Policy scene, never particularly of detailed interest to the voter because there was plenty to get on with just building up that huge American economy and dealing with domestic issues, has now been taken captive by those “fossil groups”?
And that the West as a whole, because of the predominance of the US in the West, is now similarly captive? If so the “lunatic juggernaut”, as one can fairly term the West as a whole when one observes the catastrophic mistakes we in the West make in our Foreign Policy, is in truth being steered by groups who have little contact with current reality and dangerously little in common with the peoples of their host countries.
Truly deplorable didplay of parochial ignorance. They could have travelled to India or to Iran and seen and experienced for themselves what millenia of tyranny and lie creates.
A nice link. Thank you.
AFAIK both Perle and Wolfowitz are zionist israel-firsters. Do you think the Wohlstetters and Strauss also belonged to this group?
They are or were all neocon Israel firsters. pl
“He also has shown great courage personally, for example entering Fallujah at the height of the uprising there and spending the day and night talking with leaders in the insurgency.”
That would have been early 2004, while Col Harvey was “Red Team” Chief.
I am told that this account is self-generated. Now think about the Falluja story. The people he would have visited were dedicated jihadis. They routinely cut peoples’ heads off or crucify them for not sharing their opinion of the nature of Islam. They hung the burned and mutilated corpses of a number of American off a bridge in town. Do you really think Derek Harvey who speaks no Arabic went to have a listening opportunity with them? If you think that you are very gullible. was he decorated for this feat of daring do? If so, I want to see the citation. It took a brigade sized force to break into the town. Was that because the command would not listen to Derek Harvey? pl
That I don’t know, but the improbable, hell, impossible, tales of travel in the service of self-promotion remind me of The Commodore.
Are you calling CNN fake news?
“Serving under McMaster is a triumvirate of well-seasoned Middle East hands. The senior director at the NSC for the Middle East is retired Col. Derek Harvey, an Arabic-speaking intelligence officer with a Ph.D. who served as the head of the US military cell examining the insurgency in Iraq in 2003.”
In terms of empiricism… I would think that discovering whether someone can speak a given language should be very easy to test.
Derek Harvey does not speak Arabic except for “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you” and the like. Send him around and I will give him a language test. Nor does Harvey have a Ph. D I have consulted peers of his who were in Iraq when he was supposedly playing Lawrence of Arabia in Falluja. They universally believe this to have been BS. He is a wonderfully skilled self-promoter. pl
I have a real Ph.D. and have been waiting for the President, any President, to offer me a lucrative government job as a Hispano-American expert which my smattering of Spanish and my ownership of bilingual poetry books surely entitle.
I do not crdit that. On the whole US has gained nothing from Japan – except unemployment. And then there is the little matter of Afghanistan, for which, the money traol goes tjrough her anf back in DC.
Ishmael Zechariah – I’m too far away to have any worthwhile feel for how ultra-Zionism got into its current position as a determining factor in American Foreign Policy, and by extension ours. I have, with some diffidence, maintained that the Scofield Bible has more clout than AIPAC in the United States but that belief was arrived at by reading accounts and examinations of the American fundamentalist scene and not from direct experience. In fact when I read the English correspondents on this site I’m chastened to realise how unaware I have been of various political cross currents in my own country, so I don’t pretend to be able to accurately pin down the cross currents in yours.
The Colonel’s Venn diagrams – intersecting interest groups – are, I am convinced, the best way of visualising the interplay of the various interest groups and ideological pressures that resulted in current American Foreign Policy. Ultra-Zionism got into the mix, that’s for sure, but perhaps even those who observed the process at first hand would be hard put to identify exactly how. All most can do is see the results. And live them.
What is clear to any outside observer is how open the American political and intellectual scene is. An American today might feel hemmed in by PC and current dogma to an extent that would be incomprehensible to any American of the past, but to an outsider it seems a remarkable free and open-minded society in contrast to the more restricted and self-censoring political environment in Europe. That openness gives grounds for hope that it will be the Americans who will find the way out the the cul-de-sac the West is currently trapped in, but it is also a vulnerability. If good things might find a lodging in this relaxed and open culture so might bad and in my comment above I had hoped to look at how it was that America, that byword for confident progress, found itself harbouring some of the more regressive political tendencies that found their way from Old Europe. Harbouring them, and scarcely without noticing, allowing them to direct their fortunes and the fortunes of the West.
To your list of outsiders influencing American foreign policy I’d add the Rwandan Tutsis who, while their elite were in exile in New York and Canada in the 1970’s and 80’s, formed very close links with zionists and neo-conservatives. Their intelligence and brightness appealed, as well as, possibly, the murkier strains of Social Darwinism (a culture very much still alive in the Tutsi elite) since eugenicist theories have always defined them as “philo-semites”, unlike the untermenschen Central African Hutu who make up the vast majority of the Rwanda’s population).
The Tutsi elite’s invasion of Rwanda under Paul Kagame was heavily financed by elements in The West (who also, unsurprisingly, had their eyes on the vast deposits of rare metals (especially for computers) in the neighbouring and highly unstable Congo).
The “Rwandan Genocide” which followed was used again and again as an excuse (“It Must Never Be Allowed To Happen Again!”) for the Iraq and Libyan and Syrian interventions. But more sceptical voices are increasingly pointing out that Paul Kagame’s troops were as much initially involved in massacring Hutus as Hutus were in massacring the rural Tutsis (who had little connection with the cosmopolitan Tutsi Elite), and that Kagame then used “The Genocide” as a repeated cover and excuse for barbaric invasions (fully supported by the West for both ideological and commercial reasons) of the Congo and the terrible slaughters and exploitations which took place (and continue to take place) there.
Only recently has the once lionized Kagame been condemned by the United Nations, despite fervent opposition to this by his powerful supporters in The West.
Gerard Prunier’s magisterial “Africa’s World War” covers this tragedy in great detail, and is in itself partly a “mea culpa” for his earlier “The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide” which he admits he wrote while bedazzled by Kagame.
Really fast look, I am aware of the larger Straussiophobia. With all due respect to Shadia Drury. Haven’t read her books, admittedly.
By contrast, Shadia Drury, professor of political theory at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, argues that the use of deception and manipulation in current US policy flow directly from the doctrines of the political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). His disciples include Paul Wolfowitz and other neo-conservatives who have driven much of the political agenda of the Bush administration
Stopped here. Felt from the first time I stumbled across it, was even slightly curious, far too easy. Should I go back and study it more closely?
Babak: Truly deplorable display of parochial ignorance. They could have traveled to India or to Iran and seen and experienced for themselves what millennia of tyranny and lie creates.
Yes, I agree that’s part of the puzzle. I may have struggled with something comparable over here not too long ago. At least in essence it feels. But, it feels there are many comparable “theys” around.
But while I admittedly read almost every book on the Neocons I could lay may hands post 9/11. The Straussian angle felt a bit hyped to me. No doubt, I may be wrong. I surely didn’t look into the assumed occult aspect of matters. To the extend I looked at Strauss’ study of Machiavelli it didn’t feel that striking. Yes, no doubt tried to offer ‘Il principe’ deceptive means in trying to get his attention.
Machiavelli’s intention in curing the attention of his master clearly to teach him the best ways of deception. But: Is there a way to understand, or better still to prove, how Strauss’ interpretation of Machiavelli may have gotten into the mind of e.g. Wolfowitz? Which in return explains why matters unfolded the way they did?
Why do we need to select Leo Strauss as the ultimate representative of Machiavelli in our times? Never mind, the long reception history of Il Principe/The Prince? The neocons as his only true descendants? Well, how would their biographies compare to Machiavelli’s attempt to please the Prince? Or their attempts at getting the attention of the respective “cherry blossom king” (Tyler’s coinage for Trump, here used for whatever president of the US more generally)?
Meaning: Before I stumbled across the debate I assumed that Machiavelli was more generally a standard text in politics and for politicians in the West. (no political scientist, no political philosopher, admittedly).
Well yes, there was this biographical detail linking Strauss to Carl Schmitt:
And yes, without any doubt one might be able to draw a direct line from Carl Schmitt’s Political Theocracy to Israel, as at least one Israeli scholar has done.
But does that help us to solve the larger riddle of US politics? Apart from telling us that you may be born into time and space beyond your own choices, as Leo Strauss was, and then have to deal with it? Maybe even trying to understand with whatever means?
Personal note: Saw your and Kooshy’s response. Thanks to both of you.
The adherents of the Scofield Bible are aligned with AIPAC. These Christians belief that in order for Christ to return, Israel must exist and the temple must be rebuilt. They want Christ to return and they want to facilitate the occurrence of the event. Thus they are 100% pro-Israel in a most Zionist fashion.
Yes he bypasses established conventions, but, will that tactic get things done? Example: Obamacare Repeal.
Thank you for your comments.
The Protestant Christians in US and in UK – as a big part of Electorate – are largely responsible for enabling the neocons. The West has bought and paid for A RELIGIOUS indulgence, called Israel and is unwilling to either admit or accept that it has led to a religious war. I guess the West expects to prevail.
And what of the man that McMaster seemingly can’t get rid of — the still firmly in place, and high in the NSA hierarchy, Ezra Cohen-Watnink?
“Are you calling CNN fake news?”
The more apt description would be Fraudulent news.
Sorry — that’s Cohen-Watnick.
A couple book recommendations for anyone who wants historical background on the links between Strauss and the neocons. First point is that conservatives spent decades of efforts trying to build a “political theory/philosophy” that would support/justify their political/ideological objectives. Nash’s “The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America 1945-1970” is widely recognized by folks of various political persuasions as a solid work of history. Nash describes how this pursuit of a theoretical grounding for “conservatism” developed, and mentions how Strauss developed a wide following among these movement conservatives, although because the story ends in the 70s it doesn’t describe how Strauss later became a subject of adoration among neocons. Although the points seem self-evident, Nash (and similar writers) never explicitly explain why conservatives ever thought their political movement could have a rigorous philosophical basis, given the yawning gap between “philosophy” and short-term partisan politics, given the variety of incompatible and changing political objectives of conservatives, and given that no one in the center of left side of the political spectrum (hard-core 1930’s Marxists excepted) wasted time worrying about whether their political agenda was strongly linked to an underlying, immutable “theory”.
Gottfried’s “Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America” (2012) describes some of the post-1980 “cult of Strauss” among neocons, with competing schools based at Claremont (led by Harry Jaffa) and Chicago (led by Alan Bloom). Godfried (I think reasonably) defends Strauss against certain academic attempts (including Drury) to tie Strauss to views of Carl Schmidt that he didn’t share, and explains Strauss’ Israel-first Zionism as simply typical of Jewish intellectuals who had fled the Nazis. Gottfried fails to make the points as explicitly as his evidence allows, but many of the nasty stuff attributed to Strauss are the fault of his disciples, who simplified/misrepresented abstruse philosophical points to fit the neocon agenda of the 1990s and beyond.
Yes, Christian Zionism can I think fairly be termed an Eschatological puzzle. The time-line varies considerably depending on where you look so it’s difficult to arrive at a consensus on what actually happens in the End Times. One thing is certain. When it comes to who actually gets through the process and reaches the final stage the unconverted Jews don’t make the cut.
So those big Christian Zionist jamborees in Israel must be very odd affairs. The Christian Zionists looking at the Jews and thinking “You’re for the chop” and the Jews looking at the Christian Zionists and thinking it’s all mumbo-jumbo. They seem to get along together pretty well for all that and such events exemplify the strong link between Israel and a large chunk of the American electorate – millions some say, scores of millions say others – that is a factor in American politics no national American politician can ignore.
That is AIPAC’s power base. AIPAC is an active and highly visible lobby but it doesn’t by all accounts have that much money to spread around. Were it not for the fact that it owns the votes of much of Middle America it would be lost in the crowd. As it is, it is no exaggeration to say that in owning those votes it effectively owns American Foreign Policy in the Middle East.
Put that together with the influence exerted over the long term by groups essentially external to American political culture, an influence examined above, put that with the cargo-cult monetary theories of the current economic consensus, mix well, and out comes Neocon.
Poor old Trump. He’s got to get through that lot before he can start putting his country back together again. I wonder if he’ll make it. Hope he does, and not only for your sake. Oddly enough, there’s quite a lot riding on him in Europe too.
A picture of recently arrested Pakistani IT guy who worked for many Democrats, with Seth Rich at a bar the night he was killed. I’m curious why there was no real investigation to his death
Looks like H.R McMaster is cleaning house. After Harvey, and Higgins ( fired on July 21st) , now it is Cohen-Watnick
All of the NSC members who were fired were essentially people Flynn brought in or had been aligned with. Why is McMaster now on a roll removing Flynn holdovers? Why is he keeping Obama people?
weasel is the true characterization of DH…I first crossed paths with him in 1993 when we attended the Military Intelligence Officer Transition Course at Ft. Huachuca. He was a Major at the time attending a course filled with relatively new Captains who either in the Branch Detail program or branch transferring from another branch in to MI. It was odd to have a Major in this course but he was there with a couple of other Majors so we all just accepted it as par for the course. It didn’t take long though to realize that he was a total asshole…and while I have no evidence to back it up but I’m pretty certain he was involved in a plagiarism incident while he was in the MIOTC…as best I can remember DH bluffed and bullied his way out of the incident. After MIOTC and the MIOAC I was assigned to USFK and to my surprise DJ was also assigned there a few months after me. It was here while working with DH on the USFK staff that I realized how much of an asshole he truly is…I could tell story after story of his back stabbing and self promotion…but as you imply in your comment he appeared to be made of teflon and nothing negative ever stuck to him…he always deflected mistakes or other problems onto the others working around him. I crossed paths with DH many times over the years and it never ceased to amaze me when I would hear about his many promotions…he is just a rump snorkler and apparently he cultivated many patrons over the years.
When he tried to hang around my offices in the Pentagon it was clear that he knew nothing of intelligence work. I guess he had finagled a transfer to MI without training and an assignment to DIA on an equally unqualified way. “Rump snorkler?” Undoubtedly. pl