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Max Boot

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Max Boot
Max Boot.jpg
Boot in 2007
Born (1969-09-12) September 12, 1969 (age 50)
Moscow, Soviet Union
(modern-day Russian Federation)
Occupation Writer, historian
Nationality American
Subject Military history

Max Boot (born September 12, 1969) is a Jewish-American mainstream or soft conservative[1] editorialist and consultant, lecturer, and military historian.[2] He 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 books of military history.[3] The book Invisible Armies (2013) describes the history of guerrilla warfare. Boot's latest book, 2018's The Road Not Taken, is a biography of US intelligence officer Edward Lansdale.

While nominally right-of-center regarding economics and foreign policy, he has come to endorse left-wing identity politics. Boot opposes the concept of human biodiversity, but claims that apparent racial differences in aptitude and behavior are actually caused by discrimination by mostly white men. As such Boot is sometimes held up as a member of the purported mainstream alliance between left-wing progressives and their alleged conservative enablers known as The Cathedral. His policy proposals have also been summarized as "invade the world, invite the world".[4] Boot strongly opposes white nationalism, though he expressed limited support for the aspirations of other racial groups.[5]

He has become an increasingly outspoken opponent of President Trump and his policies, particularly Trump's limited attempts to reduce some types of Third World immigration. Boot has spoken in favor of allowing Third World and Muslim immigration into the USA to increase instead,[6] though he is more tolerant of Israel restricting its population flows.[7]

Personal life

Boot was born in Moscow.[8] His parents, both Russian Jews, later emigrated from the Soviet Union to Los Angeles, where he was raised.[8] Max Boot was educated at the University of California, Berkeley (BA, History, 1991) and Yale University (MA, Diplomatic History, 1992).[2] He started his journalistic career writing columns for the Berkeley student newspaper The Daily Californian.[9] He later stated that he believes he is the only conservative writer in that paper's history.[9] Boot and his family currently live in the New York area.[2]


Boot is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), 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.[2] He has blogged regularly for Commentary Magazine since 2007,[10] and for several years on its blog page called Contentions.[11] 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.[2]

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.[3] He wrote an investigative column called 'Rule of Law' about legal issues.

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.[3] 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.[12] The Washington Post praised the book,[13] and The Washington Times also did so.[14] 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.[12]

After a four-year career with the column, he rose to the position of editor of the Op-Ed page.[13]

Boot left the Journal in 2002, and he then joined the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He became a 'Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow' with the group.[3] His writings with the CFR appeared in several publications such as The New York Post, The Times, Financial Times, and International Herald Tribune in 2002.[15]

Boot wrote Savage Wars of Peace, a study of small wars in American history, with Basic Books in 2002.[3] The title came from Kipling's poem 'White Man's Burden'.[16] 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."[17] 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".[16] 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".[18] Robert M. Cassidy in Military Review labeled it "extraordinary".[19] 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.[20]

Boot wrote numerous articles with the CFR in 2003 and 2004.[21][22] 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.[3] He also worked as member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 2004.[23]

He published the work War Made New, an analysis of revolutions in military technology since 1500, in 2006.[3] 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.[24] The book received praise from Josiah Bunting III in The New York Times, who called it "unusual and magisterial",[25] and criticism from Martin Sieffin in The American Conservative, who called it "remarkably superficial".[26]

Boot wrote many more articles with the CFR in 2007,[27] and he received the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism that year.[3] 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.[28] Boot served as a foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain in his 2008 United States presidential election bid.[29] He stated in an editorial in World Affairs Journal that he saw strong parallels between Theodore Roosevelt and McCain.[30] Boot continued to write for the CFR in several publications in 2008 and 2009.[30][31]

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".[32] 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.[33]

Boot wrote for the CFR 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.[34][35]

In September 2012, during a stint as a fellow with the New America Foundation, 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".[36]

Boot's most recent book, titled Invisible Armies (2013), is about the history of guerrilla warfare, going through various cases of successful and unsuccessful insurgent efforts such as the fighting during the American war of independence, the Vietnam War, and the current Syrian Civil War. He states that traditional, conventional army tactics as employed by the American military under the administrations of President Bush and President Obama against guerrilla organizations have produced big strategic failures. Boot has discussed his book in various programs such as the Hoover Institution's Uncommon Knowledge series. appearing on it in January 2014.[37]


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.[38] 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."[39]

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.[40] 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.[41]

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 the U.S. may find it "necessary to send arms and Special Forces trainers to support the rebels" since 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."[42]

Political beliefs

In general, Boot considers himself to be a "natural contrarian" when it comes to right-wing politics, which he respects but questions.[43] He identifies as a conservative, once joking that "I grew up in the 1980s, when conservatism was cool".[44] He is in favor of limited government at home and American leadership abroad. He strongly opposed Trump's presidential candidacy in 2016[45] and has been highly critical of the Republican Party as being too unsympathetic to most left-wing domestic policy proposals.[46] Boot was critical of the nomination of Rex Tillerson to the position of Secretary of State, believing him to be problematically pro-Russian, and subsequently called on Tillerson to resign.[47]

Boot dislikes the term "neoconservative" since he believes that it "has entirely lost its original meaning", but he does not mind being called one.[44] He is "an influential neoconservative author and policy expert as well as a military historian," according to The New York Times.[8] The Christian Science Monitor has labeled him a "self-described neocon".[48] Boot describes his line of foreign policy thinking as "Wilsonian".[49] He has credited himself with holding similar views to those of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan. He has also stated that he believes in American exceptionalism.[28]

Boot supported 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, since he opposes significant immigration restrictions or ethnic profiling. 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".[33] He advocates creating a formal Department of Peace alongside the current Department of Defense to promote democracy building abroad.[28] 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.[48] He has said that he believes the U.S. must act as a world police agency since "[t]here is nobody else out there".[28]

Left-wing evolution

In an opinion piece for Foreign Policy in September 2017, Max Boot outlines his views thusly: "I am socially liberal: I am pro-LGBTQ rights, pro-abortion rights, pro-immigration. I am fiscally conservative: I think we need to reduce the deficit and get entitlement spending under control. I am pro-environment: I think that climate change is a major threat that we need to address. I am pro-free trade: I think we should be concluding new trade treaties rather than pulling out of old ones. I am strong on defense: I think we need to beef up our military to cope with multiple enemies. And I am very much in favor of America acting as a world leader: I believe it is in our own self-interest to promote and defend freedom and free markets as we have been doing in one form or another since at least 1898."[50]

In December 2017, also in Foreign Policy, Boot claimed that recent events—mostly the election and presidency of Donald Trump—had caused him to "rethink" some of his previous views questioning the extent of white privilege and male privilege, which he has now concluded to be fully real: "In the last few years, in particular, it has become impossible for me to deny the reality of discrimination, harassment, even violence that people of color and women continue to experience in modern-day America from a power structure that remains for the most part in the hands of straight, white males. People like me, in other words. Whether I realize it or not, I have benefitted from my skin color and my gender—and those of a different gender or sexuality or skin color have suffered because of it."[51]


  • 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

See also


  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Max Boot". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 6, 2005. Retrieved January 12, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Max Boot. Council on Foreign Relations. Accessed March 1, 2009.
  4. Steve Sailer (Dec 27, 2017)
  5. | March 31, 2017 | Matthew Vadum
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "Max Boot". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 25, 2013. Retrieved January 12, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. 9.0 9.1 Barnes, Thomas; Kreisler, Harry (2003). "Conversation with Max Boot: Background". Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved January 22, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Author Archive: Max Boot". Commentary. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  11. "Max Boot". Commentary. Archived from the original on February 7, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. 12.0 12.1 Andrew C. McCarthy (June 1998). "Out of Order by Max Boot". Commentary. Retrieved August 21, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. 13.0 13.1 Velvel, Lawrence (May 24, 1998). "Sentencing the Judges". Washington Post. Retrieved August 21, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "It's the judges who are out of order". The Washington Times. July 15, 1998. Retrieved August 21, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Max Boot – Publications – 2002. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
  16. 16.0 16.1 "The Post-Powell Doctrine". By Benjamin Schwarz. The New York Times. Published July 21, 2002. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
  17. Russell, James A. The Savage Wars of Peace: Review. Journal of Cold War Studies 6.3 (2004) pp. 124–126
  18. Books: Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace. By Victor Davis Hanson. History News Network. Published April 29, 2002.
  19. Cassidy, Robert M. The Savage Wars of Peace 26, 2009/ Archived December 26, 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Military Review, Nov–Dec 2004. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  21. Max Boot – Publications – 2003. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
  22. Max Boot – Publications – 2004. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
  23. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. War Made New 8, 2008/ Archived March 8, 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Brookings Institution. Published October 26, 2006.
  25. Killing Machines. By Josiah Bunting. The New York Times. Published December 17, 2006. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  26. Sieff, Martin. "On War It's Not" 26, 2009/ Archived March 26, 2009 at the Wayback Machine. The American Conservative. Published March 12, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  27. Max Boot – Publications – 2007. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 America, Quo Vadis? Part 1. Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg. Originally broadcast April 12, 2007. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
  29. "The War Over the Wonks". The Washington Post. October 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. 30.0 30.1 Max Boot – Publications – 2008. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
  31. Max Boot – Publications – 2009. Council of Foreign Relations. Accessed August 30, 2009.
  32. Boot, Max (January 5, 2009). "Israel's Tragic Gaza Dilemma". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 20, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. 33.0 33.1 Boot, Max (October 15, 2001). "The Case for American Empire". The Weekly Standard: Volume 007, Issue 05. Retrieved August 20, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. Max Boot – Publications – 2010. Council of Foreign Relations.
  35. Max Boot – Publications – 2011. Council of Foreign Relations.
  36. Doran, Michael; Boot, Max (September 26, 2012). "5 Reasons to Intervene in Syria Now". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. "Incorrect History". By Max Boot. The Weekly Standard. Published February 15, 2005. Accessed August 22, 2009.
  39. A Factually Correct Guide to Max Boot. By Thomas E. Woods. The American Conservative. Published March 28, 2005. Accessed March 1, 2009.
  40. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  41. "Israel’s Goldberg Problem". Commentary: Contentions. Published May 19, 2008. Accessed August 22, 2009.
  42. Wilkinson, Will (March 17, 2011) Conservative deliberation v the war reflex, The Economist. Accessed March 14, 2015.
  44. 44.0 44.1 Boot, Max (December 30, 2002). "What the Heck Is a 'Neocon'?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017-12-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  45. Boot, Max (2016-05-08), "The Republican Party is dead", Los Angeles Times, retrieved 2016-07-20<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  46. Boot, Max (2016-08-01), "How the stupid party created Donald Trump", The New York Times, retrieved 2016-12-19<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  47. Boot, Max (August 23, 2017). "Time Is Up on Rex Tillerson". Foreign Policy. Retrieved August 25, 2017. Having proved a failure at every aspect of being secretary of state, he should do the country a favor and resign.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  48. 48.0 48.1 "Q&A: Neocon power examined". Christian Science Monitor. 2004. Retrieved August 21, 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  49. Barnes, Thomas and Kreisler, Harry. "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. External link in |publisher= (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  51. Boot, Max (December 27, 2017). "2017 Was the Year I Learned About My White Privilege". Foreign Policy. Retrieved December 28, 2017.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links