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Profile: Michael Ledeen

 
  

Positions that Michael Ledeen has held:

  • Research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute


 

Quotes

 
  

Quote, 2000

   “[T]he defense of the country is one of those extreme situation in which a leader is justified in committing evil.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 117]

Quote, September 4, 2001

   “Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.” [Wall Street Journal, 12/7/2001]

Associated Events

Quote, October 29, 2001

   “No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq ... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ... our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” [American Enterprise Institute, 10/29/01]

Associated Events

Quote, August 6, 2002

   “Scowcroft has managed to get one thing half right, even though he misdescribes it. He fears that if we attack Iraq ‘I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East. It could turn the whole region into a caldron and destroy the War on Terror.’ One can only hope that we turn the region into a cauldron, and faster, please. If ever there were a region that richly deserved being cauldronized, it is the Middle East today. If we wage the war effectively, we will bring down the terror regimes in Iraq, Iran, and Syria, and either bring down the Saudi monarchy or force it to abandon its global assembly line to indoctrinate young terrorists. That's our mission in the war against terror.” [National Review Online, 8/6/02]

Associated Events

Quote, March 25, 2003

   “I think the level of casualties is secondary. I mean, it may sound like an odd thing to say, but all the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war. ... What we hate is not casualties but losing. And if the war goes well and if the American public has the conviction that we're being well-led and that our people are fighting well and that we're winning, I don't think casualties are going to be the issue.” [American Enterprise Institute, 3/25/2003]

Associated Events


 

Relations

 
  

Related Entities:


 

Michael Ledeen actively participated in the following events:

 
  

February 19, 1998      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Committee for Peace and Security publishes an open letter to President Bill Clinton outlining a 9-point “comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam and his regime.” The letter is signed by a litany of former US government officials known for their neoconservative viewpoints. Several of the signatories are also involved with the Project for the New American Century and had endorsed a similar letter published by that organization the previous month. [CNN, 2/20/98; Committee For Peace and Security, 2/19/98 Sources: February 19, 1998 Open Letter to Bill Clinton]
People and organizations involved: Richard Armitage, Peter Rodman, Roger Robinson, Paul Wolfowitz, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, Robert A. Pastor, Max Singer, Peter Rosenblatt, Helmut Sonnenfeldt, Leon Wienseltier, Caspar Weinberger, Richard V. Allen, Frank Carlucci, Paula J. Dobriansky, William B. Clark, Jeffrey T. Bergner, Stephen Bryen, Richard Burt, Frank Gaffney, Jeffrey Gedmin, Sven F. Kraemer, Gary Schmitt, Zalmay M. Khalilzad, Bernard Lewis, Frederick L. Lewis, Jarvis Lynch, Robert C. McFarlane, John R. Bolton, Fred C. Ikle, Stephen Solarz, David Wurmser, Dov S. Zakheim, Donald Rumsfeld, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, Robert Kagan, Douglas Feith
          

2000      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       In his book, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership, neoconservative Michael Ledeen measures modern leaders against Machiavelli's rules for leadership and concludes that “[e]ven after a half a millennium, Machiavelli's advice to leaders is as contemporary as tomorrow.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 185] He laments that contemporary Western leaders, “like their counterparts in the rest of the world, have fallen short of Machiavelli's standards.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 187] According to Ledeen, “[I]f new and more virtuous leaders do not emerge, it is only a matter of time before we are either dominated by our enemies or sink into a more profound crisis.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 187] Such a situation, he explains, would put the US in the “same desperate crisis that drove Machiavelli to call for a new dictator to set things aright.” He adds, “In either case, we need Machiavellian wisdom and leadership.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 188] Throughout the book Ledeen highlights certain qualities that he believes make strong leaders. A leader “must be prepared to fight at all times,” he writes, and must be of “manly vigor.” Women, he says, are rarely strong leaders because women generally cannot achieve virtue for they lack the “physical wherewithal and the passionate desire to achieve” military glory. To Ledeen, the ends may justify the means. In some situations, “[i]n order to achieve the most noble accomplishments, the leader may have to ‘enter into evil.’ ” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 90] According to Ledeen, the Christian god sanctions this view. Machiavelli, he notes approvingly, wrote: “I believe that the greatest good that one can do, and the most gratifying to God is that which one does for one's country.” Ledeen thus adds: “Since it is the highest good, the defense of the country is one of those extreme situation in which a leader is justified in committing evil.” [Ledeen, 2000, pp 117]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

After November 2000      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       After the 2000 Presidential Election, Bush's White House political adviser, Karl Rove, tells neoconservative Michael Ledeen “Anytime you have a good idea, tell me.” From that point on, according to a Washington Post interview with Ledeen, every month or six weeks, Ledeen offers Rove “something you should be thinking about.” On more than one occasion, ideas faxed to Rove by Ledeen, “become official policy or rhetoric,” the Post reports. [Washington Post, 3/10/2003]
People and organizations involved: Karl Rove, Michael Ledeen
          

October 29, 2001: Necon Scholar: ‘This Is Total War’      Complete 911 Timeline

       Michael Ledeen, speaking at an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, states: “No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq ... this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don't try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war ... our children will sing great songs about us years from now.” [American Enterprise Institute, 10/29/01]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

December 2001      US confrontation with Iran

       The Bush administration sends two Defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to meet with Iranians in Rome in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism. The offer had been back-channeled by the Iranians to the White House through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader and a central person in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted another Iran-Contra figure, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen passed the information on to his friends in the Defense Department who then relayed the offer to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley expressed no reservations about the proposed meeting and informed George J. Tenet, the director of the CIA, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. According to officials interviewed by the New York Times, the United States Embassy in Rome was not notified of the planned meeting as required by standard interagency procedures. Neither the US embassy nor CIA station chief in Rome learn of the three-day meeting, apparently attended by both Ghorbanifar and Ledeen, until after it happens. When they do catch wind of the meeting, they notify CIA and State Department headquarters in Washington which complain to the administration about how the meetings had been arranged. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/2003]
People and organizations involved: Larry Franklin, George Tenet, Stephen Hadley, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Harold Rhode, Condoleezza Rice
          

December 7, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Michael Ledeen, an avid admirer of Machiavelli, argues in a piece published by National Review Online that the US must be “imperious, ruthless, and relentless” against the Muslim world until there has been “total surrender.” Any attempt on the part of the US to be “reasonable” or “evenhanded” will only empower Islamic militants, he asserts. He writes: “We will not be sated until we have had the blood of every miserable little tyrant in the Middle East, until every leader of every cell of the terror network is dead or locked securely away, and every last drooling anti-Semitic and anti-American mullah, imam, sheikh, and ayatollah is either singing the praises of the United States of America, or pumping gasoline, for a dime a gallon, on an American military base near the Arctic Circle.” [National Review Online, 12/7/2001] The piece is republished in the Jewish World Review four days later. [Jewish World Review, 12/11/2001]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

December 9, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The Bush administration sends two defense officials, Harold Rhode and Larry Franklin, to meet with Iranians in Rome in response to an Iranian government offer to provide information relevant to the war on terrorism. The offer had been backchanneled by the Iranians to the White House through Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader and a central person in the Iran-Contra affair, who contacted another Iran-Contra figure, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute. Ledeen passed the information on to his friends in the Defense Department who then relayed the offer to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Hadley expressed no reservations about the proposed meeting and informed George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage. According to officials interviewed by the New York Times, the United States Embassy in Rome was not notified of the planned meeting as required by standard interagency procedures. Neither the US embassy nor CIA station chief in Rome learns of the three-day meeting until after it happens (see December 12, 2001). When they do catch wind of the meeting, they notify CIA and State Department headquarters in Washington which complain to the administration about how the meetings were arranged. [Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/03; Newsday, 8/9/03] In addition to Ghorbanifar, Ledeen, Franklin, and Rhode, the meeting is attended by Nicolo Pollari, head of SISMI, and Antonio Martino, Italy's minister of defense. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004] According to the Boston Globe, either at this meeting, a similar one in June (see June 2002), or both, Ledeen and Ghorbanifar discuss ways to destabilize the Iranian government, possibly using the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, a US-designated terrorist group, as a US proxy. [Boston Globe, 8/31/2004] Additionally, according to an unnamed SISMI source, Pollari speaks with Ledeen about intelligence his agency has collected (see October 15, 2001) suggesting that Iraq made a deal with Niger to purchase several tons of uranium. SISMI already sent a report to Washington on the matter in mid-October (see October 15, 2001). Reportedly, Pollari has also approached CIA Station Chief Jeff Castelli about the report, but Castelli has since indicated he is not interested in the information. [La Repubblica, 10/25/2005]
People and organizations involved: Antonio Martino, Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Nicolo Pollari, George Tenet, Harold Rhode, Stephen Hadley
          

December 12, 2001      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       The newly-installed US ambassador to Italy, Mel Sembler, learns during the course of a private dinner with Iran-Contra figure Michael Ledeen and Italian defense minister Antonio Martino about a secret backchannel meeting that took place three days before (see December 2001) involving US defense officials, former Iran-Contra figures, and Iranian government officials. After the dinner, Sembler immediately contacts the CIA station chief in Rome to find out if he knows about the meeting. But the station chief says he does not know anything either. “Soon both Sembler and the Rome station chief were sending anxious queries back to the State Department and CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., respectively, raising alarms on both sides of the Potomac” since all US government contact with foreign government intelligence agencies is supposed to be overseen by the CIA. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004 Sources: Unnamed US Government sources]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen, Mel Sembler, Antonio Martino
          

January 30, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice's chief deputy on the National Security Council, instructs former Iran-Contra figure Michael Ledeen and officials in Douglas Feith's office to cease their dealings (see December 2001) with Manucher Ghorbanifar. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Manucher Ghorbanifar, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, Stephen Hadley
          

June 2002      US confrontation with Iran

       In Paris, Defense Department officials (including either Harold Rhode or Larry Franklin) meet with Iranian officials and Manucher Ghorbanifar, an Iranian arms trader who had been a central figure in the Iran-Contra affair. The meeting reportedly resulted from “an unplanned, unscheduled encounter,” that took place without White House approval. An earlier meeting involving several of the same figures had taken place seven months earlier (See December 2001). [Washington Post, 8/9/03; New York Times, 12/7/2003] When Secretary of State Colin Powell learns of the meeting, he complains directly to Condoleezza Rice and the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [Newsday, 8/9/03; Washington Post, 8/9/03]
People and organizations involved: Harold Rhode, Larry Franklin, Michael Ledeen, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Colin Powell
          

July 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Michael Ledeen contacts Mel Sembler, the US ambassador to Italy, and informs him that he will be traveling to Rome again (see December 2001) to continue “his work” with the Iranians. Sembler passes this on to Washington, and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley sends word to Ledeen reminding him that he is not to deal with the Iranians. [Washington Monthly, 9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Mel Sembler, Michael Ledeen, Stephen Hadley
          

September 4, 2002      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Neoconservative Michael Ledeen argues in a piece published by the Wall Street Journal that the US must not limit the next military strike to Iraq alone. Rather, according to Ledeen, the US “should instead be talking about using all our political, moral, and military genius to support a vast democratic revolution to liberate all the peoples of the Middle East from tyranny.” In addition to Iraq, he says, the governments of Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia must also be overthrown. “Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.” [Wall Street Journal, 9/4/2002]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

Late 2002      US confrontation with Iran

       Michael Ledeen joins with Morris Amitay, vice-president of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; ex-CIA head James Woolsey; former Reagan administration official Frank Gaffney; former senator Paul Simon; and oil consultant Rob Sobhani to set up a group called the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI). [The Sunday Herald, 6/1/2003] CDI says it “fully agrees with President Bush's inclusion of Iran in the ‘axis of evil’ and supports congressional initiatives to bring about needed change in Iran.” [Coalition for Democracy, 1/16/2004] The group has strong ties to Reza Pahlavi, the son of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the US-backed leader of Iran who was removed from power by the 1979 Iranian Revolution. [International Herald Tribune, 6/6/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen, Frank Gaffney, James Woolsey
          

March 25, 2003      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       During a conference held at the American Enterprise Institute, an audience member asks the panel of guests—made up of James Woolsey, Richard Perle, and Michael Ledeen—where they see “the level of acceptance of US society in terms of casualties, not only on the US side, but as well on the Iraqi side, and in terms of duration of the operation?” Ledeen responds: “I think the level of casualties is secondary. I mean, it may sound like an odd thing to say, but all the great scholars who have studied American character have come to the conclusion that we are a warlike people and that we love war. ... What we hate is not casualties but losing. And if the war goes well and if the American public has the conviction that we're being well-led and that our people are fighting well and that we're winning, I don't think casualties are going to be the issue.” [American Enterprise Institute, 3/25/2003]
People and organizations involved: James Woolsey, Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen
          

May 6, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) hosts “The Future of Iran Mullahcracy, Democracy, and the War on Terror” at Washington DC's Wohlstetter Conference Center. The forum, cosponsored by Hudson Institute and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, includes a discussion on “What lies ahead for Iran?” and “What steps can the United States take to promote democratization and regime change in Iran?” Noted moderators and panelists include: Meyrav Wurmser, The Hudson Institute; Uri Lubrani, Israeli Defense Ministry; US Senator Sam Brownback; Michael A. Ledeen and Reuel Marc Gerecht, both of the AEI; Bernard Lewis, Princeton University; and Morris Amitay of The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. [American Enterprise website, n.d.]
People and organizations involved: American Enterprise Institute, Meyrav Wurmser, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Michael Ledeen
          

May 29, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       CNN reports that despite US government prohibitions (see March 15, 1995 and May 6, 1995) banning US citizens and business from doing business with Iran, dozens of US companies are actively conducting business there, including Halliburton, ConocoPhillips and General Electric. The companies are using a complicated array of corporate loop-holes and off-shore accounts to maneuver around US laws. Michael Ledeen, interviewed by CNN, says these companies are aiding terrorism. “The oil companies are a wholly owned subsidiary of the government...the government is the primary sponsor of terrorism,” he says, additionally claiming that “they have separate organizations that are used to funnel oil profits and other profits into the terror network.” [CNN, 2/10/2003; CNN, 5/29/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen, Halliburton, Inc.
          

September 26, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       American Enterprise Institute hosts Hossein Khomeini, grandson of the Ayatollah Rohallah Khomeini. Khomeini leads a discussion or Iran's future at the Wohlstetter Conference Center in Washington D.C. He is introduced by Michael Ledeen. [American Enterprise Institute, 9/26/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

December 19, 2003      US confrontation with Iran

       Michael Ledeen, in an op-ed piece published by the Wall Street Journal, makes numerous charges against the Iranian government saying it supports terrorism and is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon. He asserts that the Bush administration must therefore act soon against Iran. He says Iran is the “ultimate litmus test of the seriousness of the Bush administration” and that the “...[administration's] ability to conduct an effective campaign against the mullahs in Tehran will determine the outcome of the war against the terror masters.” Ledeen asserts that the US does not need to invade Iran to “liberate it,” rather it only needs to support the “enthusiastically pro-American” people, as the US did the “Serbs against Slobodan Milosovic, the Filipinos against the Marcoses, the Poles against Soviet Communism.” [Wall Street Journal, 12/19/2003]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen
          

January 6, 2004      US confrontation with Iran

       Hossein Khomeini, grandson of Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returns to Iran on January 6, 2004. During 2003, he spent several months in Iraq and visited the US, speaking at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) (see September 26, 2003). Khomeini's return to Iran is a surprise to Michael Ledeen and the AEI. According to Ledeen, sources close to the Khomeini family suggest that he was lured back with a combination of threats and promises. Ledeen says that Khomeini's wife was recently visited by Iranian security agents who told her, “If your children suddenly die in the streets, you must know that it was not our doing.” [American Enterprise Institute, 1/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Michael Ledeen, Hossein Khomeini
          

April 3, 2005      Events Leading to Iraq Invasion

       Journalist and radio host Ian Masters asks former CIA operative Vincent Cannistraro during an interview, in reference to the question of who forged the Niger documents , “If I were to say the name Michael Ledeen to you, what would you say?” Cannistraro replies, “You're very close.” After the radio show, Ledeen denies in a statement that he has any connection to the documents. [KUCR, 4/3/2005]
People and organizations involved: Vincent Cannistraro, Michael Ledeen
          

'Passive' participant in the following events:

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