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Leo Strauss and International Relations: The politics of modernity's abyss

Hirst, A. (2012). Leo Strauss and International Relations: The politics of modernity's abyss. International Politics, 49(6), pp. 645-670. doi: 10.1057/ip.2012.23


This article argues that an engagement with the political philosophy of Leo Strauss is of considerable value in International Relations (IR), in relation to the study of both recent US foreign policy and contemporary IR theory. The question of Straussian activities within and close to the foreign policy-making establishment in the United States during the period leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq has been the focus of significant scholarly and popular attention in recent years. This article makes the case that several individuals influenced by Strauss exercised considerable influence in the fields of intelligence production, the media and think tanks, and traces the ways in which elements of Strauss’ thought are discernible in their interventions in these spheres. It further argues that Strauss’ political philosophy is of broader significance for IR insofar as it can be read as a securitising response to the dangers he associated with the foundationlessness of the modern condition. The article demonstrates that the politics of this response are of crucial importance for contemporary debates between traditional and critical IR theorists.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in INTERNATIONAL POLITICS. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Hirst, A. (2012). Leo Strauss and International Relations: The politics of modernity's abyss. INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, 49(6), pp. 645-670. is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: Social Sciences, International Relations, Political Science, Government & Law, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, POLITICAL SCIENCE, Leo Strauss, Straussians, Iraq, IR theory, 9/11, abyss, WAR
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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