Boot in 2007
September 12, 1969 |
Max Boot (born September 12, 1969) is an American author, consultant, editorialist, lecturer, and military historian. He has been a prominent advocate for American power. He once described his ideas as "American might to promote American ideals." He self-identifies as a conservative, once joking that "I grew up in the 1980s, when conservatism was cool". Boot worked as a writer and editor for Christian Science Monitor and then for The Wall Street Journal in the 1990s. He is now Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He has written for numerous publications such as The Weekly Standard, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, and he has also authored well-reviewed and best-selling books of military history.
Boot was born in Moscow. His parents, both Russian Jews, later emigrated from the Soviet Union to Los Angeles, where he was raised. Boot was educated at the University of California, Berkeley (BA, History, 1991) and Yale University (MA, Diplomatic History, 1992). He started his journalistic career writing columns for the Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian. He later stated that he believes he is the only conservative writer in that paper's history. Boot and his family currently live in the New York area.
Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and the Los Angeles Times, and a regular contributor to other publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and The New York Times. He blogs for Commentary Magazine on its page Contentions. He serves as a consultant to the U.S. military and as a regular lecturer at U.S. military institutions such as the Army War College and the Command and General Staff College.
Boot worked as a writer and as an editor for The Christian Science Monitor from 1992 to 1994. He moved to The Wall Street Journal for the next eight years. He wrote an investigative column called 'Rule of Law' about legal issues. After a short, four-year career with the column, he rose to the head position of the Journal's editorial board.
In the middle of his career with the Journal, Boot wrote Out of Order, a critique of the American legal system for overreaching published by Basic Books in 1998. He highlighted the Supreme Court cases of Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which he labeled the 'Magna Carta' of judicial activism, and Romer v. Evans (1996) as key examples, although he stated that he agreed with Brown's result while opposing its reasoning. Boot wrote that judges have no authority to legislate or execute laws and are particularly ill-equipped to do so because of their lack of expertise in those policy questions. He stated that judges have unfairly expanded their domains for greater fame and influence, without regard for the wider socio-economic issues effected. The Washington Post praised the book, and The Washington Times also did so. Commentary ran a mixed review by Andrew C. McCarthy that described the book as a polemical "stream of vitriol" and supporting some of its recommendations while panning others.
Boot left the Journal in 2002, and he then joined the Council on Foreign Relations. He became a 'Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow' with the group. His writings with the Council appeared in several publications such as The New York Post, The Times, Financial Times, and International Herald Tribune in 2002.
Boot wrote Savage Wars of Peace, a study of small wars in American history, with Basic Books in 2002. The title came from Kipling's poem 'White Man's Burden'. James A. Russell in Journal of Cold War Studies criticized the book, saying that "Boot did none of the critical research, and thus the inferences he draws from his uncritical rendition of history are essentially meaningless." Benjamin Schwarz argued in The New York Times that Boot asked the U.S. military to do a "nearly impossible task", and he criticized the book as "unrevealing". Victor Davis Hanson in History News Network gave a positive review, saying that "Boot's well-written narrative is not only fascinating reading, but didactic as well". Robert M. Cassidy in Military Review labeled it "extraordinary". Boot's book also won the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation as the best non-fiction book recently published pertaining to Marine Corps history.
Boot wrote numerous articles with the Council in 2003 and 2004. The World Affairs Councils of America named Boot one of “the 500 most influential people in the United States in the field of foreign policy" in 2004. He also worked as member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 2004.
Boot's writings with the Council continued to appear in the media in 2005 and 2006. He published his most recent work War Made New, an analysis of revolutions in military technology since 1500, in 2006. The book's central thesis is that a military succeeds when it has the dynamic, forward-looking structures and administration in place to exploit new technologies. It concludes that the U.S. military may lose its edge if it does not become flatter, less bureaucratic, and more decentralized. The book received praise from Josiah Bunting III in The New York Times, who called it "unusual and magisterial", and criticism from Martin Sieffin in The American Conservative, who called it "remarkably superficial".
Boot wrote many more articles with the Council in 2007, and he received the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism that year. In an April 2007 episode of Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg, Boot stated that he "used to be a journalist" and that he currently views himself purely as a military historian. Boot served as a foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain in his 2008 United States presidential election bid. He stated in an editorial in World Affairs Journal that he saw strong parallels between Theodore Roosevelt and McCain. Boot continued to write for the Council in several publications in 2008 and 2009.
Boot appeared on the PBS public affairs program Charlie Rose alongside war correspondent Julian Barnes of The Wall St. Journal on August 3, 2010. During Rose's interview, Boot praised President Obama's decision to appoint General David Petraeus as the ground commander of the Afghanistan campaign, and he said that the conflict is winnable. He also mentioned that he has served as a civilian adviser to both Petraeus and his predecessor Stanley McChrystal, with fellow civilians Fred Kagan and Stephen Biddle.
Boot wrote for the Council through 2010 and 2011 for various publications such as Newsweek, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and The Weekly Standard among others. He particularly argued that President Obama's health care plans made maintaining the U.S.' superpower status harder, that withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq occurred prematurely while making another war there more likely, and that the initial U.S. victory in Afghanistan had been undone by government complacency though forces could still pull off a victory. He also wrote op-eds criticizing planned budget austerity measures in both the U.S. and the U.K. as hurting their national security interests.
In September 2012, Boot co-wrote with Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael Doran a New York Times op-ed titled "5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now", advocating U.S military force to create a countrywide no-fly zone reminiscent of NATO's role in the Kosovo War. He stated first and second that "American intervention would diminish Iran’s influence in the Arab world" and that "a more muscular American policy could keep the conflict from spreading" with "sectarian strife in Lebanon and Iraq". Third, Boot argued that "training and equipping reliable partners within Syria’s internal opposition" could help "create a bulwark against extremist groups like Al Qaeda". He concluded that "American leadership on Syria could improve relations with key allies like Turkey and Qatar" as well as "end a terrible human-rights disaster".
In general, Boot considers himself to be a "natural contrarian". He credits his economic views to his parent's experiences in leaving the Soviet Union. He used to consider himself a social conservative, but he moderated his views over time. He opposes banning abortion and banning human cloning.
Boot vigorously supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the 2007 surge. He wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed in April 2011 arguing that it is "in America's Interest to Stay in Iraq" because "[h]aving active bases would allow us to project power and influence in the region."
During the Gaza war, Boot stated that Israel was morally justified to invade the Gaza Strip. However, he also stated that Israel might not be making the right tactical or strategic decisions and he called its overall situation a "quagmire". Boot also strongly supported NATO intervention to come to the aid of the Bosniaks in the Yugoslav wars, which he regarded as a just cause for humanitarian reasons. He has criticized President Ronald Reagan's decision to pull out of Lebanon after the barracks bombing as well as President Bill Clinton's decision to pull out of Somalia after the Battle of Mogadishu, viewing them as signs of American weakness and as stepping stones towards the 9/11 attacks.
Boot dislikes the term "neoconservative" since he believes that it "has entirely lost its original meaning", but he does not mind being called one. He is "an influential neoconservative author and policy expert as well as a military historian," according to The New York Times. The Christian Science Monitor has labeled him a "self-described neocon". Boot describes his line of foreign policy thinking as "Wilsonian". He has credited Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan as holding similar views. He has also stated that he believes in American exceptionalism.
Boot supports what he calls American imperialism based on nation building and the pursuit of spreading democracy across the non-Western world. He sees this as the only way to prevent another event like the 9/11 attacks. He has written, "[u]nlike 19th-century European colonialists, we would not aim to impose our rule permanently. Instead... occupation would be a temporary expedient to allow the people to get back on their feet". He advocates creating a formal Department of Peace alongside the current Department of Defense to promote democracy building abroad. He later stated in an interview that he thinks most Americans feel uncomfortable with being called an 'empire', but that they would be willing to act like one regardless. He has said that he believes the U.S. must act as a world police agency since "[t]here is nobody else out there".
Debates and disputes
Boot published a critique of paleoconservative historian Thomas E. Woods' book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History in The Weekly Standard on February 2005. Boot labeled Woods' views as a 'Bizarro World' given Woods' support for nullification and the right of secession as well as his opposition to U.S. participation in World War I and II. Boot also criticised Woods for what he saw as ignoring African-Americans' struggle for civil rights and ignoring the fact that Clinton's intervention in the Balkans stopped a potential genocide. Woods responded in The American Conservative in March. He cited Thomas Jefferson in support for nullification and he accused Boot of anti-Southern prejudice. Woods also commented, "Since in my judgment Max Boot embodies everything that is wrong with modern conservatism, his opposition is about the best endorsement I could have asked for."
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's controversial 2007 book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy named Boot as a neo-conservative 'pundit' that represented the Israeli lobby's positions, notably within the Council of Foreign Relations. The authors argued that Boot and other figures dishonestly warp American foreign policy away from its national interest. Boot has called their ideas "crazy". He has also remarked that American activists could not keep President Bill Clinton from pressuring Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the Camp David summit, which he believes belies the idea of a powerful Israeli lobby.
In response to the 2011 Libyan civil war, Boot wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the United States should send an aircraft carrier with "34 F/A-18F Super Hornets and 10 F/A-18C Hornets along with a full complement of electronic-warfare aircraft" to Libya in order to establish a no-fly zone over that country. In addition, he argued that "It may also be necessary to send arms and Special Forces trainers to support the rebels," and that inaction would "reduce American power and prestige in ways that will do us incalculable long-term harm." Replying to Boot's arguments, Will Wilkinson of The Economist wrote that "there is no question that serious people do not deliberate like this" and that "crediting this sort of keyboard brinkmanship has already done Americans (and Iraqis and Afghans) incalculable harm."
- Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present (Liveright, 2013), ISBN 0-87140-424-9
- War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today (Gotham Books, 2006), ISBN 1-59240-222-4
- The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (Basic Books, 2002), ISBN 0-465-00721-X
- Out of Order: Arrogance, Corruption and Incompetence on the Bench (Basic Books, 1998), ISBN 0-465-05375-0
- "Max Boot". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- Boot, Max (2002-12-30). "What the Heck Is a 'Neocon'?". OpinionJournal.com (The Wall Street Journal). Retrieved 2007-02-06.
- Max Boot. Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed March 1, 2009.
- Max Boot. The New York Times. Accessed March 1, 2009.
- "Conversation with Max Boot: Background". University of California, Berkeley: Institute of International Studies. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- Max Boot. Commentary: Contentions. Accessed August 21, 2009.
- Velvel, Lawrence (May 24, 1998). "Sentencing the Judges". Washington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Andrew C. McCarthy (June 1998). "Out of Order by Max Boot". Commentary. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "It's the judges who are out of order". The Washington Times. July 15, 1998. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2002. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- "The Post-Powell Doctrine". By Benjamin Schwarz. The New York Times. Published July 21, 2002. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Russell, James A. The Savage Wars of Peace: Review. Journal of Cold War Studies 6.3 (2004) pp. 124-126
- Books: Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace. By Victor Davis Hanson. History News Network. Published April 29, 2002.
- Cassidy, Robert M. The Savage Wars of Peace. Military Review, Nov-Dec, 2004. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2003. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2004. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- "An Open Letter to the Heads of State and Government Of the European Union and NATO". Project for the New American Century. September 28, 2004. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2005. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2006. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- War Made New. Brookings Institution. Published October 26, 2006.
- Killing Machines. By Josiah Bunting. The New York Times. Published December 17, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Sieff, Martin. "On War It's Not". The American Conservative. Published March 12, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2007. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- America, Quo Vadis? Part 1. Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg. Originally broadcast April 12, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "The War Over the Wonks". The Washington Post. 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2007-12-04.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2008. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2009. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
- "A look at General David Petraeus and the mission in Afghanistan". Charlie Rose. August 3, 2010.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2010. Council of Foreign Relations.
- Max Boot - Publications - 2011. Council of Foreign Relations.
- Boot Max (2011-04-18) It's in America's Interest to Stay in Iraq, Wall Street Journal
- Boot, Max (January 5, 2009). "Israel's Tragic Gaza Dilemma". OpinionJournal.com (The Wall Street Journal). Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Boot, Max (October 15, 2001). "The Case for American Empire". The Weekly Standard: Volume 007, Issue 05. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- "Q&A: Neocon power examined". Christian Science Monitor. 2004. Retrieved August 21, 2009.[dead link]
- "Conversation with Max Boot: U.S. Foreign Policy in the Post-9/11 World". University of California, Berkeley: Institute of International Studies. Retrieved March 1, 2009.
- "Incorrect History". By Max Boot. The Weekly Standard. Published February 15, 2005. Accessed August 22, 2009.
- A Factually Correct Guide to Max Boot. By Thomas E. Woods. The American Conservative. Published March 28, 2005. Accessed March 1, 2009.
- John J. Mearsheimer; Stephen M. Walt (2007). The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 129, 130, 171, 177. ISBN 978-0-374-17772-0.
- "Israel’s Goldberg Problem". Commentary: Contentions. Published May 19, 2008. Accessed August 22, 2009.
- Wilkinson, Will (2011-03-17) Conservative deliberation v the war reflex, The Economist
- Hickman, John. "What Luck!" On Line Opinion: Australia's E-Journal of Social and Political Debate. June 1, 2007.
- Boot, Max. "Neocons May Get the Last Laugh". Los Angeles Times. March 3, 2005.
- Max Boot discusses War Made New at the World Affairs Council of Northern California, November 11, 2006 (video)
- Interview on War Made New at the Pritzker Military Library on December 7, 2006
- Interview on Invisible Armies at the Pritzker Military Library on March 13, 2013
- An excerpt from Out of Order at The Denver Post
- Booknotes interview with Boot on Out of Order: Arrogance, Corruption, and Incompetence on the Bench, May 31, 1998.