"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Michael Ledeen

Michael Arthur Ledeen (Ph.D.) is considered to be a neo-conservative. Ledeen was a Ronald Reagan appointee and is outspoken on U.S. foreign policy. He worked as a consultant to the National Security Council, Department of State (81-82), and Department of Defense (82-86).

Ledeen's daughter is Simone Ledeen, who went to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq in October 2004 and ended up in a position of considerable responsibility.

Ledeen's books include Universal Fascism, which speaks favorably of fascism as a "revolutionary movement," and Gabrielle D'Annunzio, a glowing biography of the founder of the Italian Fascist Party. [1] (


The Unknown Hawk - Neoconservative Guru Sets Sights on Iran ( (Pacific News Service, May 9, 2003)

"From creative destruction to total war, the guiding beliefs of the most aggressive foreign policymakers in the George Walker Bush administration may originate in the works of an influential yet rarely seen neoconservative.

"Most Americans have never heard of Michael Ledeen, but if the United States ends up in an extended shooting war throughout the Middle East, it will be largely due to his inspiration.

"A fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, Ledeen holds a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. He is a former employee of the Pentagon, the State Department and the National Security Council. As a consultant working with NSC head Robert McFarlane, he was involved in the transfer of arms to Iran during the Iran-Contra affair -- an adventure that he documented in the book Perilous Statecraft: An Insider's Account of the Iran-Contra Affair. His most influential book is last year's The War Against the Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win.

"Ledeen's ideas are repeated daily by such figures as Richard Cheney, Donald H. Rumsfeld and Paul Dundes Wolfowitz. His views virtually define the stark departure from American foreign policy philosophy that existed before the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. He basically believes that violence in the service of the spread of democracy is America's manifest destiny. Consequently, he has become the philosophical legitimator of the American occupation of Iraq.

"Now Michael Ledeen is calling for regime change beyond Iraq. In an address entitled Time to Focus on Iran -- The Mother of Modern Terrorism, for the policy forum of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) on April 30, he declared, 'the time for diplomacy is at an end; it is time for a free Iran, free Syria and free Lebanon.'

"With a group of other conservatives, Ledeen recently set up the Center for Democracy in Iran (CDI), an action group focusing on producing regime change in Iran.

"Quotes from Ledeen's works reveal a peculiar set of beliefs about American attitudes toward violence. 'Change -- above all violent change -- is the essence of human history,' he proclaims in his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules Are as Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago. In an influential essay in the National Review Online [2] ( he asserts, 'Creative destruction is our middle name. We do it automatically ... it is time once again to export the democratic revolution.'

"Ledeen has become the driving philosophical force behind the neoconservative movement and the military actions it has spawned. His 1996 book, Freedom Betrayed; How the United States Led a Global Domocratic Revolution, Won the Cold War, and Walked Away, reveals the basic neoconservative obsession: the United States never 'won' the Cold War; the Soviet Union collapsed of its own weight without a shot being fired. Had the United States truly won, democratic institutions would be sprouting everywhere the threat of Communism had been rife.

"Consequently, Ledeen has excoriated both the State Department and the United Nations for their preference for diplomatic solutions to conflict; and the CIA for equivocating on evidence that would condemn 'America's enemies' and justify militant action.

"'No one I know wants to wage war on Iran and Syria, but I believe there is now a clear recognition that we must defend ourselves against them,' Ledeen wrote on May 6 in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

"Though he appears on conservative outlets like the Fox television network, Ledeen has not been singled out for much media attention by the Bush administration, despite his extensive influence in Washington. His views may be perceived as too extreme for most Americans, who prefer to think of the United States as pursuing violence only when attacked and manifesting primarily altruistic goals toward other nations.

"Clearly a final decision has not been made on whether the United States will continue military action in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. But Ledeen has a notable track record. He was calling for attacks against Iraq throughout the 1990s, and the U.S. invasion on March 19 was a total fulfillment of his proposals. His attacks against the CIA and the State Department have contributed to the exclusion of these intelligence bodies from any effective decision making on Iraq. His attacks on Iran, even when Iran was assisting the United States, helped keep the Bush administration from seeking any rapprochement with Tehran. Were it in Ledeen's hands, we would invade Iran today.

"Given both his fervor and his influence over the men with the guns, Americans should not be surprised if Ledeen's pronouncements come true."

Quote from Foundation for Democracy in Iran web site ( 31 Oct. 2001: "American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Ledeen, writing in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 31, believes the ongoing anti-regime demonstrations in Iran, which have been widely ignored by the Western press, constitute 'an event of world-historical potential' that are 'unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic.'"

Michael Ledeen's role in the Reagan administration

In the book Reagan Presidency, Michael Ledeen described his role in the Reagan administration thus: "I was a kind of intelligence courier for the White House: I would go and talk to various people in Europe. There are certain kinds of conversations that an American president will want to carry on outside of official channels. I carried some of those private messages. My other responsibility was that I worked with [Oliver] North on counter-terrorism. I read all the intelligence on terrorism, and North and I would discuss it." [3] ( [4] ( (ISBN 1574885839 page 83)

Ledeen and the 'total war' misattributed quote

The following quotation has been widely misattributed to Ledeen: "If we are going to win a total victory in the war on terrorism while deterring other major wars around the globe, we will first have to rid ourselves of our aversion to total war. By 'total' war, I mean the kind of warfare that not only destroys the enemy's military forces, but also brings the enemy society to an extremely personal point of decision, so that they are willing to accept a reversal of the cultural trends that spawned the war in the first place. A total-war strategy does not have to include the intentional targeting of civilians, but the sparing of civilian lives cannot be its first priority... The purpose of 'total' war is to permanently force your will onto another people group... [T]otal war pits nation against nation, even culture against culture."

In fact, the quotation is from another National Review columnist, Adam G. Mersereau [5] ( Ledeen is justifiably angry about the misattribution, and blamed a Brown University professor, William Beeman, for it [6] ( Brown has admitted the error and apologized [7] ( The misattribution has been widely repeated on the Internet [8] (

However, Ledeen has advocated total war, although not in such offensive terms. In a 2003 essay for the American Enterprise Institute, he wrote: "There is every reason to believe we will succeed in revolutionizing the Middle East, for we have always excelled at destroying tyrannies.... We wage total war, because we fight in the name of an idea -- freedom -- and ideas either triumph or fail." [9] (

Ledeen on the importance of America being able to "efficiently dominate subject peoples"

Michael Ledeen wrote the introduction to "From Caesar to the Mafia - Persons, Places and Problems in Italian life (" by Luigi Barzini. Ledeen admiringly quotes a passage from the book:

This... is the problem of many successful republics, whose simple virtues make them strong enough, at one point, to conquer other people and assume imperial responsibilities. How can men, who are dedicated to liberty and the defense of their own independence, efficiently dominate subject peoples, without damning their own soul?. [10] (

Ledeen then makes this comment on Barzini's question:

And there, in two lovely sentences, is the conundrum the United States must solve if we are to have a second successive American Century. Luigi knew that. It's why he took the time to craft those lines. [11] (

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Milton Frihetsson, 14:50


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