Max Boot on Edward Lansdale, reviewed at The Financial Times. Political Observer comments

Max Boot is another of the coterie Neo-Conservative Spartans , who celebrate war, yet are utterly without military credentials. He is not the Junger of  In Storms of Steel. Richard Aldington’s 1930 quote seems apt: ‘I see many death worshipers in the world but Herr Junger (sic) is certainly an almost unrivaled fanatic in the idolatry of destruction.’* Mr. Boot lacks both Junger’s military experience, and his literary talent, in sum, his power to ensorcell ! Mr. Boot qualifies as an  example of the ‘intellectual’ fascinated by the man of action!

Mr. Boot is, in fact , an ‘arch-hawk’ , whose denial of that status is key to appeal to a readership who prizes ‘historical objectivity’ as some how achievable. This paragraph fragment is demonstrative of the Boot iteration of that practice/claim:

…“a rebuke both to anti-interventionists who assume that fragile states should stand or fall on their own and to arch-hawks who believe that massive commitments of American military forces are necessary to win any war”.

Mr. Boot’s ‘hero’ is Lansdale who backed American puppet Ngo Dinh Diem:

Lansdale cast his lot with Ngo Dinh Diem, the prime minister who was overthrown and killed in 1963, in what the author argues was a turning point for the ill-starred US war in Vietnam.

For some insight on the political career and the American backers of Ngo Dinh Diem:

The Americans’ assessments of Diệm were varied. Some were unimpressed with him, some admired him. Diệm gained favor with some high standing officials, such as Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Roman Catholic cardinal Francis Spellman, Representative Mike Mansfield of Montana, and Representative John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts(No. Ngo Dinh Diem met Mansfield and Kennedy in Washington, DC on 8 May 1953 when these two gentlemen had been elected Senators) [39] along with numerous journalists, academics, and the legendary spy chief of CIA William J. Donovan.[40] Although he did not succeed in winning an official support from the US, his personal interactions with American political leaders promised his prospect in gaining more support in the future. Mansfield remembered after the luncheon with Diệm held on May 8, 1953, he felt that “if anyone could hold South Vietnam, it was somebody like Ngô Đình Diệm”.[41]

On the ‘least convincing parts of the Lansdale Legacy’,  ‘Operation Mongoose’  Mr. Reed engages in a bit of nay saying to Mr. Boot’s Old Cold War cheer-leading, that did lead to catastrophic American domestic consequences of its Anti-Castroism , after all Conspiracy Theory is anathema at the ultra-respectable Financial Times, except when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn and The Populist Menace and the Breixiteers.

Some of the least convincing parts of Lansdale’s legacy relate to his work on Operation Mongoose, a covert plan to use psy-ops to overthrow Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The group’s suggestions — some of which would be aired embarrassingly in 1975 Congressional hearings — included surfacing a US sub near the Cuban coast to fire star shells into the sky, “in order to convince Cubans that the Second Coming of Christ was imminent and that Christ was against Castro”.

Mr. Boot is not a ‘Conservative’ but an American Ultra-Nationalist steeped in the Mythology supplied by Leo Strauss and his American epigones: The Project for the New American Century supplied its political manifesto:

And Samuel P. Huntington supplied its codified paranoia of ‘The Other‘:

comfortable with heterodox views’ ! He is the beneficiary of  white male privilege, and of an imperial politics that seeks a vindication of that privilege, in the imposition of the rule of that ‘elite’ over the lesser beings that inhabit the world!

Boot is a conservative who is comfortable with heterodox views — he recently published an apologia for being a beneficiary of white male privilege — and I would have liked to see more of his own analysis of how Lansdale’s precepts have been adopted or ignored in subsequent US military interventions.

This conclusion is the most cogent evaluation that Mr. Reed, acting as a Financial Times propagandist, can do in terms of the career of Mr. Lansdale, as explored by Neo-Conservative Mr. Boot? Call it an apologetic for the American National Security State and one of its ruthless, indeed immoral actors.

While this book does not entirely redeem Lansdale, it serves as a useful addition to the literature on US foreign policy during the half-century bracketed by the US occupation of the Philippines and the disastrous 2003 intervention in Iraq.

Political Observer


*Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1941 by Thomas Nevin, page 40


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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