Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Michael Ledeen - 3

Jihad Khazen Al-Hayat - 12/07/06

Michael Ledeen has for the past three years been a firm advocate of widening the war in Iraq to encompass Syria and Iran. Many of his articles are variations on this basic theme. And he doesn’t tolerate dissent; when Nicholas Kristof wrote a fair column about Iran in the New York Times, Ledeen ridiculed and dismissed his views.

A National Review Online article by Michael Ledeen on March 28, 2006 was headlined: “Iran is at war with us: Someone should tell the US government”. Ledeen said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is dying of cancer, but is convinced that his legacy will be glorious. Khamenei and his top cronies believe they have effectively won and that the US and Israel are both paralysed. They despise the Europeans and believe they have a strong strategic alliance with the Russians and that they have the Chinese over a barrel since they depend so heavily on Iranian oil.

On May 17, 2006 he wrote on National Review Online that it was reported Iran’s revolutionary guards were supplying Zarqawi’s al-Qaeda in Iraq with Russian made anti-aircraft weapons including the infrared guided, shoulder-born missile Sam in addition to other weaponry like machine guns and improved improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

He said: “Here is the usual question: How long are we going to watch the mullahs kill Americans and our Iraqi allies without reacting? Isn’t 27 years long enough? Why are we not attacking the terrorist training camps in Syria and Iran? Why are we not gong after the IED assembly lines in Iran? Why are we so totally distracted by the nuclear issue, when our people are being killed by bombs, rockets and guns?”

On the same day May 17, 2006, responding to the news that Turkish judge Mustafa Ozbilgin had shot dead in a court building by a gunman shouting “God is great”, Ledeen wrote on National Review Online that he had known Mustafa back in the early 80s when Ledeen had been doing some counter-terrorism work in the Pentagon. He then presided over the most important terror cases.

“If we continue to dither along as we are at present, the day will come when some disgusting animals shouting ‘God is great!’ burst into our courtrooms and kill our judges, and the deranged elite of this country will wonder what terrible things we have done to provoke such carnage,” Ledeen wrote. “But we’re negotiating.” So a dead Judge in Turkey is proof that negotiation with Iran are futile.

And yet, Ledeen has said that he is not in favour of bombing Iran. For example he told Raw Story in an interview published on May 20, 2006: “if we end up bombing Iran it will demonstrate a terrible failure of American policy. We should have worked for non-violent regime change years ago. And here the reactionary left has a big share of the blame, having reflexively supported the mullahs all these years.”

In an article in the New Yorker on March 6 2006, Connie Bruck wrote on the son of the deposed Shah of Iran Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, and Shahriar Ahy, who is his political strategist, mentor and speechwriter were working.

The two men saw 2006 as the critical year.

She recalled how Michael Ledeen was among those who had argued that in bringing democracy to the Middle East through regime change, Iran, not Iraq, should be first. “Ledeen has been predicting for many years that Iran is on the verge of a popular revolution, which only requires some outside help to become a reality”. Bruck quoted him as telling a group of Iranian expatriates in Los Angeles not long before her article was published: “I have contacts in Iran, fighting the regime. Give me twenty million, and you’ll have your revolution.”

Iranian expatriates are not that stupid. A big question mark is placed on Ledeen’s credibility by his writing on January 9, 2006: “according to Iranians I trust, Osama bin Laden finally departed this world in mid-December. The al Qaeda leader died of kidney failure and was buried in Iran, where he had spent most of the time since the destruction of al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The Iranians who reported this note that this year’s message in conjunction with the Muslim Hajj came from his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, for the first time.

If he was so wrong on this, how can one take his statements on Iran seriously? For example on how ready the Iranian people are to overthrow the “mullocracy”?

Ledeen is brazen enough to ignore the fact that his credibility has been shot. On May 13 the Italian newspaper Il Foglio reported that hundreds of parliamentarians and political experts in Europe had signed an international call for the West to take firm action against Iran’s support of terrorism.

The report was carried in English translation on the stopfundamentalism.com website. Michael Ledeen was among those signing, and the signatories included a number of other prominent US neoconservatives such as Daniel Pipes, Victor Davis Hanson, David Frum, Max Boot and William Kristol.

The statement accused the West of not showing any reaction , while Iran “through intimidation and terror” is changing the shape of the world’s daily life”. The signatories said that out of concern about the problems of adopting a correct and firm policy, the international community was hiding itself behind minor technicalities. “After three years of futile negotiations, diplomacy continues to purse the same carrots and sticks approach, in the hope that his storm would finally come to an end. Some even try to calm the Iranian regime’s savagery by offering it ‘lucrative deals’…as if the Teheran Mullahs could ever become a trustworthy partner or any partner at all.”

The statement said: “A serious and frank discussion about the nature and urgency of the Iranian threat cannot be postponed.” .

Ledeen sometimes complains that he is misquoted.

Comments he made in a breakfast briefing on Iraq at the America Enterprise Institute on March 25, 2003 have often been cited – in particular his remark that “All the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war.”

Ledeen made these comments in answer to a question on the level of casualties the American public would digest. Ledeen had started his response by saying: “I think it all depends how the war goes, and I think the level of casualties is secondary.” They are secondary as long as they are American not Israeli.

Ledeen has been accused of ‘flirting with fascism’ or worse, something he denies. In an article published by The American Conservative on June 30 2003, headlined “Flirting with Fascism”, John Laughland wrote that unlike other neoconservatives, whose roots lay in Trotskyism, Ledeen’s personal odyssey began with a fascination with fascism.

Ledeen has written a book on Machiavelli, and is a great admirer of his. It is therefore worth examining his attitudes towards him and how they colour his world view. They were laid out in a speech of May 1997, which is posted on the American Enterprise Institute website, on the subject “Machiavelli for Moderns”.

Ledeen says one reason for Machiavelli’s continuing relevance is his “pitiless view of mankind.” Enemies are always “ready to march, or fly, or launch.”

Ledeen added: “you might have thought that this most bloody and turbulent century would have taught us that peace is not normal, and that it is best to prepare for the next war, to be sure of winning it with the least cost.” Machiavelli knows better; stability exists only in the grave.

Ledeen praises what Machiavelli called “the sweetness of domination”. Power over others is addictive, stimulating the desire for more of it. “The drive to expand is therefore built into all human institutions,” Ledeen said. War and the threat of war, not peace, is the normal condition of mankind.

Michael Ledeen’s statement “creative destruction is our middle name” has drawn much comment. The statement comes in a paragraph from his most recent book “The War Against the Terror Masters” .

It is destruction of Arabs and pure Muslims to serve Israel and Machiavelli’s words are exactly what Israel is practising. Tomorrow, the scandal in Italy.

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