1941 WLis inspired by the samernMiicliiax’cllian logic.rnOne would iiave thought that the resultsrnof the latter example might weaken thernforce of the “Machiavellian logic.” Thernattack on Pearl Harbor involved Japan inrna disastrous war widi the United Statesrnthat it could not win. Mr. Ledeen has abstractedrna particular insight of Machiavellirnand blown it up into an “iron rule” thatrnnot only rationalizes aggression and unproxokedrnslaughter but is ultimately suicidalrnfor the state that follows the rulernwithout considering circumstantial modificationsrnof it.rnIf Mr. Ledeen’s grasp of internationalrnpolitics is bizarre, his understanding ofrndomestic political necessities is evenrnmore so. He seizes upon Maehiavelli’srndictum that, in a corrupt .state, a dictatorshiprnis often necessary for the restorationrnof virtue and political health, and he appearsrnto relish the prospect of such a polity’rnin the United States, which he obviousl-rnconsiders a sink of corruption:rn”Paradoxicallv, preserving liberty mayrnret|uire the rule of a single leader—a dictatorrn—willing to use those dreaded extraordinarvrnmeasures, which few knowrnhow, or are w illing, to employ.” A fewrnpages later, Ledeen writes:rnNuremberg was just what Maehia’rnclli has in mind when he talksrnabout the use of an almost regalrn])ower to sae a corrupt republic;rnrelentless prosecution of the oldrnregime, followed by dramatic publicrnexecutions of the leading criminals,rnthereb) producing catharsisrnfor the people and awe of thernax’enger who has temporarily comernto set things right.rnNot onK’ the Nuremberg trials and tirernpostwar U.S. control of Germany butrnthe administration of Douglas Mac-rnArthur in postwar Japan are examples ofrnMr. Ledeen’s “restoration of virtue.”rn”MacArlhur ]5urged the warlords and imposedrna democratic constitution, the successrnof wJiich is plain for all to see.” Ofrncourse, the Nazi war criminals w ere not executedrnpublich’, and there is a vast differencernbetween imposing a particular kind ofrngcnernment on a conquered enemy andrnimposing one on your own people. Notrnsurprisingly, Abraham Lincoln, a manrnwho “foimd witiiiu himself both moralrncourage and a willingness to enter intorne il — « aging one of the bloodiest wars inrnhistor to advance freedom in America,”rnis also one of Mr. Ledeen’s heroes.rnLest anvonc imagine that Mr. Ledeen’srnglorification of dictatorship as thernneces,sar’ curative for corruption is merelyrnan academic exercise, a ten-page sectionrnof the book on “Clinton’s America:rnCorruption and Contempt” should bernconsulted. It is not so much PresidentrnClinton’s uncontrollable libido, questionablernfinancial practices, politicalrnopportunism, and possibly murderousrninclinations toward adversaries andrninexpedient allies that suggest corruptionrnto Mr. Ledeen as it is the President’s unwillingnessrnto u,sc military force to destroyrnIraq and the Serbs. In the latterrncase, “as in Iraq, there was a concernrnverging on obsession with the possibilitvrnof American casualties.” Earlier, hernfaults Ccorgc Bush and Colin Powell forrnnot destroying the Iraqi government entirelyrnduring the Gulf War. Predictably,rnMr. Ledeen cites an Israeli militar expertrnas offering the proper model of militan’rnpolicy for the United States to follow,rnand he contrasts starkly tiie U.S. sexualrnintegration ofthe Aniied Forces with tiiernpractice of the Israelis, “whose armedrnforces some consider the best in thernworld, not least because of their exceptionalrnmorale,” and who take great carernto segregate the sexes.rnAlthough he does not say it in so manyrnwords, Mr. Lcdccn clearly regards thernLhiited States as a corrupt regime thatrncan no longer govern itself and requires arndictatorship that will, presumably, placerncertain people on trial, execute them inrnpublic, and probably leave the two babesrnof their corpses rotting in the sun tor tinernedification and amusement of the people,rnl l i e dictator, at that point unimpededrnby “corruption” or any pesky “obsessionrnwith the possibility of Americanrncasualties,” will then proceed to obliteraternIraq and Serbia and any otiier nationrnthat Israeli foreign policy requires. Howrnor when non-dictatorial governmentrnmight be restored must be the subject ofrnone of Mr. Ledeen’s future books.rnOf course, Mr. Ledeen is not far offrnw hen he accuses the American Republicrnof corruption, and not just in regard tornBill Clinton and his militar policies.rnHis case for dictatorship might be morerncompelling, however, if he betrayed anyrnawareness of other respects in whicli thernUnited States has been corrupted and ifrnhe had any concrete suggestions as tornhow, aside from mass executions, a dictalorshiprnmight restore virtue. PersonalK, 1rncannot see how dictatorship could do it,rnand in any case I know of not a single individualrnliving today whom I would trn.strnwith the possession of dictatorial powerrnin this countr)’. The problem of corruptionrnin the United States derives not fromrnMr. Clinton but from tiie entire politicalrnclass — the riding class —that has acquiredrnvirhially monolithic social and politicalrnpower over the last 50 ears or so. Itrnis tills monolithic structure that encouragesrncorruption, and only when it is replacedrnwith a different strnchire by anotherrnruling class will the problem ofrncorruption be resolved. Authoritarianrnleadership might concei’abK help, gienrnthe right leaders, but b’ itself it would accomplishrnnothing and would probablyrnonly aggravate the problem. Historically,rnmost dictatorships have been a symptomrnof civic corruption rather than a correctivernof it.rnBorii Mr. Ledeen and Mr. Morris totallyrnmiss the larger point of Maehiavelli’srnpolitical doctrine, which is an elaborationrnof republican government, centeredrnaround the concept of a balance of powersrnw ithin a ruling class and tiie society itrngoverns. Mr. Ledeen is correct when hernsays at one point tiiat Machiavelli influencedrnthe Federalist, but that influencernconsisted of tiiis ycr’ principle of tiic balancernof power, manifested formally inrnthe Constitution in the mechanisms ofrnthe separation of powers and the s’stenirnof cheeks and balances. It is preciselyrntiiese mechanisms, formally in tiie structiirernof die state and inforniallv in the balancedrnand non-monolithic structure ofrndie elite, tiiat ensure libcrts- and the rulernof law and protect against corruption.rnThe significance of Machiavelli is notrnthat he teaches modern political houndsrnsome clever rationalizations of brutalityrnand mendaciti’, a few neat political tricksrnand inside tips on how to win office withoutrndeser’ing it or how to make sure tiiernLhiited States exterminates Israel’s enemies,rnbut that he was tiie first in modernrnhistor}’ to revive and reformulate ancientrnrepublican doctrine, pass it down to thernclassical republicans who shaped Britishrnand American political thought for thernnext three centuries, and point the wa’ torna scientific understanding of the natiirernof elites and their role in am polifical socieh’.rnThese contributions sail enfirclyrnpast the heads of Mr. Ledeen and Mr.rnMorris, but tiieii, writing serious booksrnon serious subjects is a practice virtuallyrnunknown to republics that hae becomerncorrupt. crnDECEMBER 1999/27rnrnrn