Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Meet Michael Ledeen: Warmonger. Neo-Con.

Every day on the way home from work I listen to 90.5, which is the local NPR affiliate. At 3PM, they air Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Of all the interview programs I have tuned into, hers is the one least likely to inspire me to scream at the radio (or television). Sure there are times when I feel like Gross is letting her guest off the hook on a particularly thorny issue- but I understand that there may be all kinds of unwritten agreements honored so as to encourage people to come back (or to discourage folks from warning their friends against appearing on the show). It is evident that she strives for professionalism, courtesy and substance. I can usually get something out of the show, even if I have little interest in the subject of the interview. But today's guest sure did test my patience.

Meet Michael Ledeen- Co-conspirator in the Iran-Contra affair... Driving philosophical force behind the neoconservative movement that pushed for the invasion of Iraq... Suspected role-player in the Yellowcake forgery that was used as evidence of WMDs in Iraq... Resident scholar at the ultra-conservative American Enterprise Institute... Fellow traveller and inspiration to Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld... Student of Machiavelli and Leo Strauss... Regular guest on Fox News... Columnist in The National Review.

If there were any justice or true love for democracy in the US or in Western Europe, the above list would be entered into the testimonial record of Ledeen's trial at an international criminal tribunal. But instead, he's given a national audience on Fresh Air. And what's he doing on the radio?

Ledeen is calling for an end to diplomacy in Iran. He is calling for "regime change" in both Iran and Syria. Ledeen claims that we have been at war with Iran since 1979, and that Iran has been killing Americans regularly since that time. He blames them for... the attack on the Marine compound in Lebanon (1983), for the attack on the USS Cole, for aiding the Sunni insurgency in Iraq... on and on, ad nauseum... much of his claims are mere speculation promoted as unchallenged fact. I'm not sure where he is getting his information... perhaps the same Italian sources responsible for the Yellowcake forgery??

Ledeen characterizes himself as a "revolutionary", not as a conservative. And truly, this is the one thing that I trust coming out of his mouth. Ledeen is cut from the same cloth as al-Zarqawi. True conservatism is defined as "the inclination, especially in politics, to maintain the existing or traditional order". Ledeen is one of the most prominent and influential warmongers not currently in the (official) Bush cabinet. If this is the state of "conservatism" in America today, I shudder to think what disasters await us.

So why should we care? Ledeen has been cited as the only full-time international affairs analyst that Karl Rove consults on a regular basis. We all know how close Rove is to the heart of the current presidential administration. There is no doubt that Ledeen was one of the prime movers of the Iraqi policy that has proven to be an unnecessary and costly quagmire. What new adventures will this Pied Piper of destruction lead us into? Just how insane is he? I'll leave you with a couple of quotes, which should give you some idea...

In a column in The National Review, Ledeen proposed a theory that France and Germany conspired with radical Islam to use terrorism to bring down a possible American Empire. He went on to write:

"It sounds fanciful, to be sure," but that, "If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe. And there, as in the Middle East, our greatest weapons are political: the demonstrated desire for freedom of the peoples of the countries that oppose us."

The following is a quote from his book "The War Against the Terror Masters"(2002):

"We can lead by the force of high moral example ... [but] fear is much more reliable, and lasts longer. Once we show that we are capable of dealing out terrible punishment to our enemies, our power will be far greater."


Blogger John Morris said...

The definition given for "consevative" here, shows that the term is useless in describing any political theory. In an absolute comunist dictatorship, the consevative is a communist.

The pretty much tells one that this is just a useless phrase with no meaning. In fact, the keeping the status quo "consevative" position has been practiced by all American Administrations in the Middle East. Go along get, along, my dictator is better than your dictator has been the game for generations.

You are very correct, in seeing however, that a "neo Con" today is basically a radical true believer.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

I would be in favor of eliminating words such as "conservative" and "liberal". I agree. They have lost all utility to communicate meaning in the political realm. Groups appropiate these terms merely to appeal to certain demographics- they are certainly not used as truly representative descriptions of their views or strategies.

9:41 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

In this particular case there is an exact reversal in the way these terms are used worldwide.A Neo- Con traveling to Peru would have to describe themselves as a neo-liberal there.

Untill the turn of the century, the term liberal always meant a person that was pro free trade, which is now the reverse.

I think that the silliest term is Proggressive, which really is just pure "argument from intimidation". Any one that opposes progressive ideas ( stale statist ideas from the 1850's ) has to fight against the implication that they are new and exiting ideas.

In the 1700's when people seemed less meant on using language to confuse people, the terms were used in an accurate and rational way.

11:13 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

If I didn't know you better, I'd say you are trying to provoke a fight. I'll gladly own up to having characterized myself as a "progressive".

To me that is the closest label that fits. When I call myself a progressive... what I mean is that I value environmental regulation, a free and critical national press, workers' rights, a form of government that keeps a close eye on corporations, public education, and social libertarian ideas. I don't claim that these are new ideas... to the contrary, these are values that were cherished by Teddy Roosevelt and John Dewey. I don't see any contemporary political figure that represents this combination of priorities.

Where's the intimidation, John?? It's certainly not coming from mainstream American society. Sorry... when a small minority of the country backs a certain grouping of political beliefs, then by the very definition of the word- it can't be "intimidating".

5:16 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

If you aren't comfortable with my definition, then try this one... from wikipedia... this encapsulates broadly my view of the approach of a "progressive".

"Progressivism is fundamentally utilitarian. Progressives judge societies and forms of government not on the basis of how close they come to any ideal of perfection, but on the basis of how well they work - how well they promote the happiness of their people."

5:31 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

And don't try tagging me with the label "socialist", either. I support the idea of a mixed ecomony.

5:32 PM  
Blogger John Morris said...

Well, I am pretty sure that this will cause a fight.

From the wikipedia

Stanley Payne's Fascism: Comparison and Definition (1980) uses a lengthy itemized list of characteristics to identify fascism, including the creation of an authoritarian state; a regulated, state-integrated economic sector; fascist symbolism; anti-liberalism; anti-communism [5]. A similar strategy was employed by semiotician Umberto Eco in his popular essay Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt[6]. More recently, an emphasis has been placed upon the aspect of populist fascist rhetoric that argues for a "re-birth" of a conflated nation and ethnic people[7].

Most scholars hold that fascism as a movement from the political right, especially after attaining state power. This is even more complicated when discussing Nazism, which as a socio-political movement began as a form of National Socialism, but altered its character once Hitler was handed state power in Germany. See: Fascism and ideology.

Fascism has expressed itself through both political and economic practices, and academics have examined these elements both together and in isolation. Hannah Arendt, whose focus is largely political, argues that regimes commonly thought of as fascist, such as Nazism, belong to a larger category of totalitarianisms [8]. Thayer Watkins, a professor of Economics from San José State University, identifies fascism as aligned with corporatism, a form of economic oppression that he argues includes most of the world's governments[9]. Watkins, who some accuse of being out of step with the academic mainstream, considers Mussolini's Fascist regime to be merely one example of the corporatist states that emerged during the Great Depression, including such diverse political systems as that of Spain, Argentina and the United States. See Fascism and ideology and Economics of fascism.

After the defeat of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in World War II, the term has taken on an extremely pejorative meaning, largely in reaction to the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis. Today, very few groups proclaim themselves fascist, and the term is often used to describe individuals or political groups who are perceived to behave in an authoritarian or totalitarian manner; by silencing opposition, judging personal behavior, promoting racism, or otherwise attempting to concentrate power and create hate towards the "enemies of the state". Because of the term's use as a pejorative, there is a great deal of controversy surrounding the question of what political movements and governments belong to fascism.

Basically, the fascist concept is a government, in which there is an illusion of private property, with defacto state control through "regulation", intimidation etc.. So this raises the question-- Isn't that the idea behind a mixed economy?

12:32 AM  
Blogger John Morris said...

I gotta repeat this quote from the Wikipedia, cause i totally agree.

Watkins, who some accuse of being out of step with the academic mainstream, considers Mussolini's Fascist regime to be merely one example of the corporatist states that emerged during the Great Depression, including such diverse political systems as that of Spain, Argentina and the United States. See Fascism and ideology and Economics of fascism.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Well... here are some prime differences between fascism and what I would like for this country:

1. I loathe the idea of a "rebirth" of nationalism. I want no part of politics based on ethnicity.

2. Social libertarians don't want any form of "totalitarianism".

3. I explicitly stated that I want nothing to do with "corporatism". In fact, I want government to be vested with the power to keep corporations in check. I don't enjoy the idea of economic oppression.

4. A free press (which I value) is inconcistent with "silencing political opposition.

5. I hate the sound of "judging personal behavior". It seems intrusive, and again conflicts with social libertarian ideas.

6. I'm not arguing for an "illusion of private property".

I'm not sure how you interpret the definition of what you wrote as being representative of "progressive" thought. It seems like you are conflating a broad economic structure with a particular (and odious) political structure.

There are many different political systems that would be consistent with a mixed economy. Be assured that I am not advocating "fascism", as stated above.

9:51 AM  
Blogger John Morris said...

This is the wikipedia's piece on classical liberalism. I am a classical liberal and I think that most of us resent the slick way in which the term has been warped over the years.

Classical liberalism (also called laissez-faire liberalism[1]) is a term used to describe the following:

the philosophy developed by early liberals from the Enlightenment until John Stuart Mill
the philosophy developed by early liberals from the Age of Enlightenment until John Stuart Mill and revived in the 20th century by Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman.,[2]The contemporary restatement of classical liberalism is sometimes called "new liberalism" or "neo-liberalism" [3]
This entry is about the political philosophy which sources refer to as "classical liberalism."
Classical liberalism is a political philosophy that supports individual rights as pre-existing the state, a government that exists to protect those moral rights, ensured by a constitution that protects individual autonomy from other individuals and governmental power, private property, and a laissez-faire economic policy.[3][4] The "normative core" of classical liberalism is the idea that in an environment of laissez-faire, a spontaneous order of cooperation in exchanging goods and services emerges that satisfies human wants.[5] It is a blend of political liberalism and economic liberalism[1] which is derived from Enlightenment thinkers such as as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, Voltaire, John Stuart Mill, and Immanuel Kant.

Many elements of this ideology developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, and it is often seen as being the natural ideology of the industrial revolution and its subsequent capitalist system. The early liberal figures now described as "classical liberals" rejected many foundational assumptions which dominated most earlier theories of government, such as the Divine Right of Kings, hereditary status, and established religion, and focuses on individual freedom, reason, justice and tolerance.[6]. Such thinkers and their ideas helped to inspire the American Revolution and French Revolution.

The qualification "classical" was applied in retrospect to distinguish the early 19th century laissez-faire form of liberalism from modern interventionist social liberalism.[7] The terminology is most applicable in the United States, since in continental Europe, "liberalism" does not refer to social liberalism as seen in American modern liberalism but to ideology that is closer to classical liberalism.

10:06 AM  

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