Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Hans Morgenthau having come up here recently (see my post of Jan. 28), I was interested to note this from Patrick Porter in which he describes his current project: a study of "U.S. defence intellectuals from Pearl Harbor to Iraq."
...starting with Walter Lippmann, it moves through Hans Morgenthau, Bernard Brodie, Edward Luttwak and finishing with Andrew Bacevich.

These figures are rich subjects in themselves, and they are powerful points of entry into a deeper study of the history of US self-criticism and pessimism...

The main argument is that these were Jeremiah figures – not cold technicians or detached ‘realists’, but prophets moved by a passionate ideology of their own that reworked European genealogies of skepticism about the American project. These are the figures we turn to repeatedly in crisis, so I thought a study of how their dissent and criticism ‘works’ and how they believed the republic could be re-educated in statecraft would be a nice little contribution to the growing literature on American strategic minds.

A great deal has already been written about Morgenthau and Lippmann, and the latter has been the subject of a superb biography, Ronald Steel's Walter Lippmann and the American Century. Still, grouping these two with Brodie, Luttwak, and Bacevich is interesting, partly because Brodie and Luttwak are much more easily classifiable as 'defense intellectuals' than Morgenthau, Lippmann or Bacevich. I bet the result will be worth reading (which is not an ironclad promise on my part to read it -- always useful to have an escape clause).

P.S. For another book that views some well-known Realists as Jeremiah figures, see here.

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