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September 12, 2003

Michael Ledeen, 'Man Of Peace'


AEI Superstars Frum And Ledeen Go on the Offensive

by Anthony Gancarski

David Frum took issue with this writerís "Ledeen on the Run" and "Benito Strikes Out" in the September 3 installment of his NRO diary. Seems he objected to my quoting him as saying that Michael Ledeen received $25 million for his tireless working to sell conflict with Iran to the American public, then not recanting my admittedly cheeky statement when Mr. Ledeen demanded retraction. Frum and Ledeen are sticklers for detail -- at least to a certain point.

Frum, in his diary entry, correctly quotes this writer as having said that "the implication is damned clear from where I sit Ė [Michael Ledeen] has been compensated amply for his words. Why would it be Ďhis $25 millioní unless he Ďearnedí it?" Indeed, I did ask that question -- though with one slight difference.

Those who have read my "Benito Strikes Out", will notice Frumís bracketing of the phrase "Michael Ledeen". Perhaps he sought to mask the fact that Michael Ledeen, adviser to Presidents and televangelists alike, uses "Benito12" to identify himself in his email address?

Is there something wrong, Mr. Frum, with Ledeen paying homage to the fascist dictator of a country who wanted nothing so much as to destroy the forces of freedom in WW2? Would NRO readers recoil in disgust if they realized that Ledeen, when able to choose from centuries of American heroes for his particular homage, shunned all of them? Andrew Jackson, Robert Taft, even Salmon Chase and Chester A. Arthur; none of these measure up to Benito for Mr. Ledeen? Remind me to have coffee with Ledeen sometime and discuss Ezra Pound.

Hereís some more from David Frum:

"[Benito 12] responded by email. He patiently pointed out that, no, the US Government had not paid him the $25 million reward money for the capture of bin Laden, and that my column did not say that it had, only that it should have. At this point, most bloggers would have realized that they had made an embarrassing mistake, quietly resolved to read more carefully in future, and made swift use of that convenient delete function in Blogger. But no! The poor chump kept going. In a post this morning, he truculently insists that [Benito 12] must have collected $25 million - and that I said so."

Where to begin? I wouldnít say Ledeen "patiently pointed out" much of anything in his email; it was a bullying, dyspeptic rant. Likewise, I never "truculently insisted" that Ledeen collected 25 million -- I just quoted his homeboy at the AEI. I would also add that Ledeenís international profile is in no small part related to his advocacy of US action in Iran, Iraq, and elsewhere, and that he works to facilitate an untenable American management of the world. Finally, I would point out that Frum, Ledeen, and the whole crew, when asked to choose between confrontation and negotiation, choose the former every time.

Does Ledeen directly advocate invasion of Iran? Iíve provided quite a few quotes in previous columns on the man and his bellicosity. He certainly has no time for negotiations with the Tehran government. And Iím still waiting for Ledeen to provide one definitive quote from Colin Powell saying that he would deny the Iranian people any "support."

I expect Iíll be waiting for a bit longer, since Ledeen is back to pimping Iranian regime change, seemingly oblivious to the disastrous consequences of the Iraqi adventure. An extended quote here from a September 8 "National Review Symposium" features yet another criticism of our apparently wobbly President:

" [Bush] has lost focus. He reminded us that he had always expected this to be a long war, but he never mentioned the Evil Axis. . . never mentioned the Iranian atomic bomb or the North Korean nuclear program or the ongoing Saudi and Syrian support for terror. This speech was narrowly about Iraq, with a couple of afterthoughts about Afghanistan. If he's aware that we can't possibly win in Iraq unless we bring down the mullahcracy in Tehran, he didn't give any sign of it. We're dithering again, wasting time while the terror masters prepare their next assault, instead of going after them where they live."

Language like that speaks for itself. One supposes the "mullahcracy" can be brought down with wishful thinking or propaganda on satellite feeds. And one also supposes that "going after them where they live" somehow serves as a peaceful solution. Because Ledeen, amazingly, "explicitly defines military action against Iran a mistake", despite the bellicosity of his words toward both the Iranian and United States governments. Ledeen wants "political action" against the "murderous mullahcracy."

One of the comforts of a non-interventionist position is that the non-interventionist doesnít have to split hairs, much less to face questions like the following. Is the overthrow of the Tehran regime more justifiable if accomplished through non-military means? If so, which ones? If it truly is our nationís destiny to spread the fertilizer known as Creative Destruction, then why not invade their countries and convert them to Christendom, as Ann Coulter asked a couple of years back? What made Iraq a better candidate for invasion than Iran? Would it help matters if we bombed Tehran for a few weeks, just to let the bastards know weíre boss? If the people canít manage a proper rebellion on their own, should we send in provocateurs? If we need provocateurs, couldnít we just fly some of the Gitmo prisoners over there on some work-release program? Finally, why the hell canít the Washington government mind its own business?

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Anthony Gancarski, the author of Unfortunate Incidents, writes for The American Conservative, CounterPunch, and LewRockwell.com. His web journalism was recognized by Utne Reader Online as "Best of the Web." A writer for the local Folio Weekly, he lives in Jacksonville, Florida.

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