Abram Shulsky

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Abram Shulsky is a neocon who served as the Director of the Office of Special Plans, the unit that produced the bogus intelligence used to sell the Iraq war. He later headed the Pentagon's Iranian Directorate (which operated out of the same office as the erstwhile OSP). [1]


Shulsky earned his doctorate University of Chicago in 1972, and was a student of political philosopher Leo Strauss. Shulsky began his career as an aide to two of the original neocon hawks, Daniel P. Moynihan [2] and Henry "Scoop" Jackson. [3]

In 2006 Shulsky was described as a neo-conservative with long-standing ties to Paul Wolfowitz. [4]


Shulsky wrote, in a book co-authored with the American Enterprise Institute's Gary J. Schmitt, called Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence that "truth is not the goal" of intelligence operations, but "victory", which coincides with a Straussian view of the use and handling of knowledge. [5]

This is a reference to the ideas of the philosopher Leo Strauss, who has been credited by some with being the father of neoconservatism in the United States. Strauss, in his work, raised the question of whether good politicians could be truthful yet still achieve the necessary aims of their society.

In a 1999 paper, “Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence,” also co-authored Schmitt, Shulsky writes that “Strauss's view certainly alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception.” [6]

Strategic Denial and Deception

Shulsky contributed a section to Strategic Denial And Deception, The Twenty-First Century Challenge, a 2002 book edited by Roy Godson and James J. Wirtz. His chapter, 'Elements of Strategic Denial and Deception', includes a discussion of the value of multiple channels in deception operations. Among the examples considered is propaganda disseminated by non-state actors.

Soviet front groups might have been more effective, but Stalinist paranoia made impossible the operational autonomy needed to succeed. To the extent that future practitioners of this type of propaganda have learned lessons from the Soviet experience, we may expect that the nonstate groups will be controlled in a more sophisticated manner and their ties to a given state will be less obvious.
New methods of spreading propaganda (such as via Internet web sites of Non-governmental organizations [NGOs], or specialized email lists) allow a deceiver to reach target audiences via multiple channels. Many of these channels may remain relatively invisible to the public at large. [7]

According to Shulsky, the media is 'relatively vulnerable to this type of manipulation'.


Publications by Abram Shulsky

  • The United States and Asia: Toward a New U.S. Strategy and Force Posture, Project Air Force Report with Zalmay Khalilzad and David T. Orletsky (Rand Corporation, 2001).
  • Deterrence Theory and Chinese Behavior (Rand, 2000).
  • Patterns in China's Use of Force: Evidence from History and Doctrinal Writings with Mark Burles (Rand, 2000).
  • The US and a Rising China: Strategies and Military Implications with Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Daniel L. Byman, Roger Cliff, David T. Orletsky, David Shlapak, and Ashley J. Tellis (Rand, 1999).
  • The Virtual Corporation and Army Organization with Francis Fukuyama (Rand Corporation, 1997).
  • Preparing the U.S. Air Force for Military Operations Other Than War, Rand Corporation, 1997, with Vick Alan and John Stillion
  • Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence (1991), with Gary J. Schmitt.


  1. 'Profile: Abram Shulsky', Right Web, accessed 2 April, 2009.
  2. 'Listings: Daniel Patrick Moynihan', Muckety.com, accessed 2 April, 2009.
  3. Tom Barry, 'Right Web of Intelligence Reformers', Right Web, 12 February, 2004.
  4. Mearsheimer, J. & Walt, S. (2006) The Israel Lobby London Review of Books. Accessed 8 July, 2008.
  5. 'Profile: Abram Shulsky', Right Web, accessed 2 April, 2009.
  6. Daniel Schulman, Meet the "Whack Iran" Lobby, Mother Jones, 6 October, 2006.
  7. Abram Shulsky, 'Elements of Strategic Denial and Deception' in Strategic Denial and Deception: The Twenty-First Century Challenge, Roy Godson and James J. Wirtz (eds.), Transaction Books, 2002, p. 23.