It is customary for conservative intellectuals to scoff at the notion that a leading political theorist in pre-war Germany had any real influence on the policies of the last American administration. And yet, when you read the Yoo memos, one gets a sense of deja vu:
Schmitt's primary contribution to political theory is the idea that in emergency situations, the rule of law can and must be suspended in favor of an executive act of decision about how to defend the political community against its existential enemies. This act, for Schmitt, is the supremely political act, and as such it transcends the standards of right and wrong, legal and illegal, that prevail under "normal" political conditions. It is thus incoherent to condemn such actions, since by definition they take place beyond categories that empower us to make moral and legal judgments.
Gee, sound familiar?
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