Lord, Carnes

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LORD, Carnes


ADDRESSES: Office—MLH-231, U.S. Naval War College, 686 Cushing Rd., Newport, RI 02841. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: National Security Council, director of international communications and information policy, 1981–83; Office of the Vice President of the United States, assistant for national security affairs, 1989–91; U.S. Naval War College, professor of military and naval strategy. Has also taught political science at Yale University, University of Virginia, and Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

AWARDS, HONORS: Distinguished fellow, National Defense University, 1991–93.


Education and Culture in the Political Thought of Aristotle, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1982.

(Translator, with Dain A. Trafton) Tasso's Dialogues: A Selection with the Discourse on the Art of the Dialogue, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1982.

(Translator) Aristotle, The Politics, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1984.

The Presidency and the Management of National Security, Free Press (New York, NY), 1988.

(Editor, with Frank R. Barnett) Political Warfare and Psychological Operations: Rethinking the U.S. Approach, National Defense University Press (Washington, DC), 1988.

(Editor, with David K. O'Connor) Essays on the Foundations of Aristotelian Political Science, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1991.

The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2003.

Contributed commentary for Angelo M. Codevilla's translation of Machiavelli's The Prince; contributed translation to Leo Strauss's Xenophon's Socratic Discourse: An Interpretation of the Oeconomicus, St. Augustine's Press (South Bend, IN), 1998. Contributor to numerous publications, including Journal of Politics, Hermes, and Naval War College Review.

SIDELIGHTS: "When it comes to dispensing knowledge to leaders, it would be hard to find a better source than Carnes Lord," according to Christian D. Brose, writing in the Public Interest. "Few political theorists possess his experience as a practitioner of statecraft; fewer still can lay claim to Lord's credentials as a serious student of political philosophy." As a member of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan and Bush, Sr. presidential administrations, Lord developed a number of insights into the key role, and common failings, of leaders trying to manage national affairs in the modern world. Unlike Machiavelli, whose The Prince is the inspiration for Lord's The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now. In his work Lord has confronted a political world in which few leaders lay claim to absolute power. However, as Brian M. Carney explained in the Wall Street Journal, in his book Lord notes a number of similarities between the modern world and the world of the Renaissance: "It might seem odd, or even worrying, to exhort democratic leaders to hew to the lessons of a man whose name has become synonymous with a cynically amoral approach to governing. And indeed, Mr. Lord does not shy away from prescriptions that could well alarm ardent democrats. The preface begins with a kind of declaration of first principles: 'The theory of democracy tells us that the people rule. In practice, we have leaders who rule the people in a manner not altogether different from the princes and potentates of times past.'"

That does not mean Lord wants to dispense with democracy or limitations on presidential power. Instead, he believes modern American presidents, in particular, have far more power than the Founders intended, but actually exercise less power than they should in certain important areas. Lord's goal is not to replace democratic leaders with princes but to restore the proper balance.

The first few chapters of The Modern Prince are designed to educate modern leaders about their real political situation, with an emphasis on the political elites that both sustain and undermine leaders in various contemporary regimes. From there, Lord describes the proper goals for state leaders to pursue, urging transcendent purpose over technical fixes or simply refereeing competing claims. Finally, he focuses on the particular instruments that modern leaders can still use to affect law, economics, diplomacy, and other institutions, drawing on his own government and academic experience to illustrate his points. Throughout, however, he urges leaders to be wary of advisors and political scientists, noting how easy it is to become enmeshed in the selfish or short-sighted interests of the so-called experts or powers-that-be. Writing in the National Interest, Fred E. Baumann concluded, "If the book falls into the hands of the next president, all the better. But its greatest benefit is likely to be bestowed on the very elites it castigates. If the older, fuller understanding that Machiavelli shared with Artistotle … can be revived in the minds of serious students of politics, future practitioners will find it easier to understand what the nature of their activity already suggests to them."



National Interest, summer, 2004, Fred E. Baumann, "Prudence and the Prince," review of The Modern Prince: What Leaders Need to Know Now, p. 172.

Naval War College Review, spring, 2004, Vickie B. Sullivan, "There Is No Substitute for Prudence," review of The Modern Prince, p. 162.

Public Interest, summer, 2004, Christian D. Brose, "Lessons for Leaders," review of The Modern Prince, p. 120.

Wall Street Journal, August 21, 2003, Brian M. Carney, "What Machiavelli Can Still Teach Us, Even in a Democracy," review of The Modern Prince, p. D8.


Ashbrook Center Web site, http://www.ashbrook.org/ (February 23, 2005), "Carnes Lord."