The Ledeen Move

I was really surprised by the news, first reported by Laura Rozen on her blog on Mother Jones, that Michael Ledeen, who had been under Richard Perle’s wing at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for some 20 years, has moved to the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy (FDD) and taken his “Freedom” chair with him. I have no inside information on the reasons for the move (I was declared persona non grata at AEI five years ago and told I shouldn’t try to attend any of its events) , and don’t buy his own explanation, although his reference to a “rising” FDD suggests his association there might be more lucrative, particularly as FDD, which earlier this year suffered major Democratic defections, is competing strongly for Sheldon Adelson’s largess. (And I have no doubt at all that Ledeen’s obsession with Iran would definitely appeal to the multi-billionaire casino magnate who reportedly shares that obsession).

One possible explanation is that the AEI’s incoming president (as of Jan. 1), Syracuse University Prof. Arthur Brooks, is hoping that AEI’s public image on foreign policy — dominated as it has been for so long by hard-line neo-cons like Perle — might be softened somewhat. But, while Ledeen clearly belongs on the radical fringe (just read his latest article in the National Review Online (NRO) on how Russia has joined the “terror masters” in Tehran and Damascus and how China is about to invade Taiwan), he’s certainly not nearly as visible as someone like former UN Amb. John Bolton, a bona fide extremist (albeit more nationalist than neo-con). On the other hand, Bolton’s frequent op-eds in the Wall Street Journal and the Telegraph, if not his cachet as a Bush alumnus willing to denounce his former boss as an appeaser to the mainstream press, no doubt raises a lot more money for AEI. By contrast, Ledeen’s relative obscurity probably attracts only a few grateful donors.

Indeed, apart from National Review Online, on which he appears to be publishing less and less, Ledeen has become lincreasingly invisible over the last couple of years, rarely participating even in AEI forums, so his departure may be due to the fact that he’s simply not producing enough. (I understand that his colleague, Joshua Muravchik, has recently been complaining worryingly to friends that AEI management has been pressing him to publish more.) In fact, a quick review of Nexis over the past three years shows that his annual article output for NRO has fallen quite sharply from more than 40 in the Aug 2005-06 period to just 18 in the last Aug 2007-08 period, which is particularly remarkable given all the speculation over the past year about attacking Iran. His television appearances also declined over the past two years, while his latest book, The Iranian Time Bomb (Sept 2007), was all but ignored by the major newspapers (with the exception of the New York Times which predictably panned it).

I would think that FDD, while certainly part of the same Likudist network as AEI’s Middle East cadre, marks a major comedown in prestige and power for Ledeen, and I have a hard time believing that he would go there willingly unless he were offered significantly more money than he is able to earn from his AEI perch. In Time Bomb, Ledeen stressed what a “singular blessing” it has been to work at AEI “where I can find out most anything I need to know by walking down the hall and asking some brilliant and collegial person.” And he singled out for praise the outgoing DeMuth who, he noted, has “always supported my work…” So, was he pushed, or did he jump? Either way, it’s an intriguing development.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

15 thoughts on “The Ledeen Move”

  1. “Moreover, we have political weapons the Russians can’t use, namely support for freedom. Their friends and allies are tyrants, and their subjects are on our side of the political divide….”

    [Michael Ledeen]

    Has Ledeen informed the German government it is tyrannical yet?

    It is very difficult to credit that this trash is seriously called “work”, or that anyone pays any attention whatever to it save for stray amusement, and, by comparison, vast self-edification, even if one is just happens to be doodling on a cocktail napkin at the time.

    1. Indeed. Who could take such solemnly self-indulgent declamations with anything but a bucket of salt in light of recent developments? The human capacity for self-delusion continues to confound. I’d certainly be interested in a psychological profile of the neocons and their followers.

      1. Ledeen’s sloppiness and incompetence may be unique. And yet the editorial page of the Christian Science Monitor, once long ago a presentable rag, had what almost seems like an echo today:

        “Soviet leaders during the cold war never had to deal with pesky capitalists when they rolled tanks into other countries. In today’s Russia, Mr. Putin may sit on gushers of oil money and he has co-opted the business class to his authoritarian rule, but he must still live with Adam Smith’s invisible hand….

        Will the oligarchs who rely on Western markets and access to the West still go along with Putin and his militant nationalism? If the West has a fifth column inside Russia, the oligarchs are it. They are the market forces best able to stand up to Russia’s military force….”

        Is American naivety about their own economic incompetence and isolationism, even from other parts of the “West”, so severe? Is it something in the air or the water?

  2. Huh. Sounds like he might be having some personal problems. Perhaps a penchant for the bottle, like fellow red-faced neocons Bolton and Kristol – not to mention Cheney? Or perhaps bad luck with the ladies, like D. Horowitz? Hmmm…

  3. Come on, Jim – the neocons threw him under the bus, because of his blatantly illegal collaboration with foreign intelligence services to feed false intelligence data into the US governmental decision-making process. The always compliant Laura Rozen did a very soft-edged interview with him, and then gently placed him beneath the bus’s wheels by means of her last article, which in fact contained no new info, so it is fair to say that she positioned him under the bus so that its wheels would not actually run him over and when the bus moved on he would be left unharmed.

  4. So Ledeen the warmongering machine has left AEI for ELMER FDD (Elite Lugheads Moving to Erase the Republic for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy), eh? Maybe SISMI has another job for him elsewhere.

  5. I can’t help wondering if Ledeen’s help in setting up that WMD “intelligence” via his Italian connections is not now becoming a liability?

    The Iraq experiment looks destined for failure, and many former supporters are now queuing up to distance themselves from the project. Voices which once were stilled are now apt to talk. Ledeen is on shaky ground and could well be on his way to a prison cell. If so, all I can say is:

    “Faster, please.”

    1. Hmm. Good point. If Ledeen’s role in the Niger document ever did come out in court, I’m sure AEI would prefer he not be identified as a fellow at the time.

  6. Here we go again! Who gives a F#&K where this criminal POS goes?! This @sshole should already be in jail gawddamit! Thanks for keeping us abreast of this tedious sh!t agent Lobe!

    @ gandhi: lol! You said “Ledeen is on shaky ground and could well be on his way to a prison cell.” Not if the Anti-War movement has anything to say about it! Nope, he’s as snug as a bug in a rug…and will always be, until the revolution begins that is! XD

  7. If Ledeen has published less in recent years, perhaps it’s depression. It must be hard, after a lifetime of neo-Italian futurist Superman posturing, to realize that you’re nothing but a nasty, obscure, discredited crank, a walking caricature of what everyone despises about neo-conservatism.

  8. When Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, was questioned about the Niger uranium forgeries, which Ledeen had a hand in, he fingered Mossad.

    McGovern said that the forgeries were so sloppy that they would throw-off intelligence agencies because Mossad’s work is usually flawless. So, his hunch was that Mossad did a deliberately sloppy job to ensure that Israel wasn’t fingered as the source of the Niger uranium forgeries.

    I heard McGovern talk about this a few years ago — he could have changed his mind since, or I could be remembering what he said incorrectly, but I think that what I’ve relayed is pretty accurate.

  9. I’d like to hear more details about Mr Lobe’s banishment from AEI. Did Danielle Pletka have to unsheath her whip?

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