struggle against tyranny is our national mission, and it requires
revolutionary leaders who fearlessly and tenaciously fight freedom's
enemies wherever and whenever they challenge us and our ideals.
It would be one of history's most bitter ironies if we were to
succumb to the counterrevolution."
Ledeen, December 2000
get a lot of emails from the lunatic fringe. White supremacists
write in to excoriate me for writing about hip hop as if I love
it. Gay activists email me and compare me to Sean Hannity and
Rush Limbaugh for opposing Civil Unions. Howard Dean's followers
type letters of despair and disgust; how dare I, after all, oppose
the Internet-driven grassroots campaign of the fiery Vermont governor?
of the above is part of my job as a columnist. I don't mind taking
extreme positions on issues of war and peace, life and death,
salvation and damnation. And I don't mind emails I get telling
me that I'm dead wrong; at least those mailers are engaging the
questions I try to make central. Even if those emails are written
by the "lunatic fringe", like one I got the other day
appeared to be.
else was I to think? My correspondent's reply-to address began
with the word "Benito12," which seemed like a more likely
reference to the Italian strongman of the last century than to
the San Francisco Giants' ageless, deeply underrated backstop.
fascist sympathizer yearning for the trains to run on time, I
thought to myself for just a second, until I realized that my
correspondent was no random acolyte of the original Axis of Evil.
Rather, it was the intellectually formidable author of 1972's
written about Ledeen with a reasonable degree of frequency for
the last year or so. How could I not? Mr. Ledeen is a serious
player in the business of Exporting Democracy. In column after
column, Mr. Ledeen takes liberties with rhetoric and logic in
the service of that agenda. September 4, 2001, for example, saw
him describing the Durban conference as a "Nuremberg Rally"
in a piece entitled "The New Nazis." In the same spirit,
Ledeen advocates that the US devote itself to destroying tyrannies:
"It is what we do best. It comes naturally to us, for we
are the one truly revolutionary country in the world, as we have
been for more than 200 years. Creative destruction is our middle
name. We do it automatically, and that is precisely why the tyrants
hate us, and are driven to attack us."
however, not all tyrannies require destruction. As Ledeen stated
on October 23, 2001, we can "turn to friendly tyrannies as
a last resort" as part of conducting the Terror War. Friendly
tyrannies? I thought all tyrants hated us because we were such
creatively destructive liberators. Deeper within the same column,
Ledeen issued the following policy prescription as if it were
nothing more controversial than a Hint from Heloise: "The
use of Israeli interrogators would have immense psychological
advantages, since the terrorists take it for granted that the
United States and Israel are simply two parts of a vast Satanic
continuum, and as soon as they see an Israeli asking questions
they will immediately assume that they have been sent to a hotter
level of Hell."
that's what I call liberation theology! If the terrorists confuse
America and Israel with Satan, and if our hired interrogators
take liberties to ensure their "immense psychological advantages",
can it really be said that the US has the moral high ground? Do
issues of morality even occur to Mr. Ledeen when he makes such
can't answer those questions for sure either way, but I can tell
you that Mr. Ledeen has a deep aversion to misrepresentation of
his views. Such alleged misrepresentation occasioned his recent
email in reaction to last week's "Ledeen
on the Run", and this week's "History Repeating"
column will deal primarily with the letter
dispatch oozes with exasperation. "I guess nobody checks
anything anymore. I have never 'scored' any money, nor did
David Frum ever say I did. He only suggested that I SHOULD
be rewarded, since I wrote that Osama bin Laden and some of his
colleagues were in Iran, long before al Qaeda leaders were uncovered
simplest way to address this point is to point Ledeen and any
other interested reader to the relevant Frum quote. From
the March 4 edition of his National Review Online diary:
Ledeen has earned his $25 million after all. TIME reports that
members of bin Laden's family found refuge in Iran after 9/11,
though it insists (despite Michael) that the Evil One himself
continues to hide in unpoliced areas of Pakistan."
implication is damned clear from where I sit Benito12 has been
compensated amply for his words. Why would it be "his $25
million" unless he "earned" it?
from Ledeen: "And that's pretty much the accuracy level of
slime, culminating with a really obnoxious lie, namely that I
advocate military action against Iran. I Never said it, indeed
I have written against it both in my book The
War Against the Terror Masters and in dozens of articles.
To put this as gently as I can, it is not possible to read my
essays on Iran and then say I am in favor of military
action. Either Gancarski hasn't read any of that material,
or he chose to lie about it nonetheless."
I be mistaken? Is Mr. Ledeen really a dove when it comes to confronting
the "murderous mullahcracy" in Tehran? Let's consider
some of his relevant quotes from his NRO column on the
major publication deigned to cover the very tough speech delivered
by the National Security Council's Zalmay Khalilzhad to a banquet
organized by pro-regime Iranian-Americans? Khalilzhad carefully
and forcefully itemized the evils of the Iranian regime to an
audience that had hoped to hear calls for resumption of dialogue,
as they had in the past from the likes of the shameful appeaser
Madeleine Albright." March
is the mother of Islamic terrorism, and it has worked hand-in-glove
with Yasser Arafat and the PLO for 30 years. Therefore the only
coherent strategy for the United States is one that defeats the
Islamic Republic and the PLO, along with the other terror masters
in Riyadh, Damascus, and Baghdad. The talk about peace, and the
endless "plans" that emerge from one capital or another,
are no more and no less than stalling tactics by those who oppose
the president's vision. Peace in this world only follows victory
in war." April
We want the fall of the regime. That is what the war on terrorism
is all about. To remain silent is to be complicit in the repression
of Iran. There is no diplomatic 'solution.' We want a free Iran."
hurtles toward chaos, and we are still dithering".
Axis of Evil is not a rhetorical device. It is in fact the enemy
we face, and must defeat, if we are to avoid attacks far more
deadly than those we endured on September 11."
willing, Judgment Day is coming to the Middle East."
even if Iraq were peaceful and flourishing and headed towards
democracy in the near future, indeed even if there had been no
September 11 and thus no war against the terror masters, our refusal
to call for regime change in Tehran would still be a disgrace."
could I possibly interpret those statements as anything other
than incitements toward war fever? More to the point, where are
these "dozens" of quotes from Ledeen counseling against
military action? There are a lot of Ledeen quotes advocating American
support of the Democratic revolutionaries in Iran, but none that
I can see as constituting an argument against using US forces
to combat this "pillar of the Axis of Evil."
in his email, Ledeen addresses my criticisms of his back-channel
diplomacy by doing what he does best: attacking Richard Armitage
and Colin Powell. Ledeen claims that it's just "common sense"
that Iran will never cooperate with the US vis-à-vis handing
over Al Qaeda members it has in custody; this writer reckons that
Iran isn't one of those "friendly tyrannies" he's been
hearing so much about. In the same vein, Ledeen softpedals his
criticisms of the current Secretary of State, writing that "Powell
may indeed be right to refuse any form of support to the Iranian
people." I await proof of a direct, unambiguous quote from
Powell indicating his "refusal" of such support.
closing his email, Ledeen claims that I owe the readers of Antiwar.com
an apology for misrepresenting his views and representing him
as a war pimp. This from the man who once
said that "I don't know of a case in history where peace
has been accomplished in any way other than one side winning a
war [and] imposing terms on the other side." Would that his
email in response to my "Ledeen on the Run" had that
kind of clarity. There's something to be said for saying exactly
what you mean, Michael, even if what you mean to say is a heap
of warmongering claptrap, and even if such warmongering is proving
to be the swift and sure undoing of the American experiment.