lest we forget…

Posted on Tuesday 30 May 2006

Michael LedeenMachiavelli on Modern Leadership by Michael Ledeen is a remarkable book – a book that suggests that Machiavelli’s treatise, The Prince, got a bad rap. In Ledeen’s view, people need to be controlled or they’ll get out of hand – basically a greedy lot. So he proposes a Republic held together by religion, a strong military, and a leader that knows how to rule. Knowing how to rule involves whatever it takes to make it work – not integrity but the often quoted "the ends justify the means." Nicolo MachiavelliUnfortunately, Ledeen is not just some crackpot academic, he’s the Freedom Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute – the think tank that gave us George W. Bush’s foreign policy. And Ledeen himself is suspected of being involved in the perpetration of the Niger Yellowcake Forgeries. He was previously involved in the Iran-Contra goings on as a broker in setting up the scam.

More or less, his neoconservative friends pulled it off. Looking on Ronald Reagan, our most irresponsible President ever, as their benchmark, they controlled the media, capitalized on religion, manipulated Congress, and "dirty tricked" with with wild abandon. They believed that they were the princes, and that whatever deceit they practiced was "good for us" so it was okay. Like Benchmark Ronnie, they cut taxes [throwing us into debt], capitalized on our outrage at 911 [throwing us into a war], and covered all the manipulation with a layering of lies and underhanded intrigue that staggers the imagination. I guess the American Experiment wit Democracy didn’t suit them, so they basically suspended it.

People like Michael Ledeen, Laurie Mylroie, and Leo Strauss haven’t been directly involved in our government, but their students have. It’s a philosophical view of man as basically evil, therefore in need of control. No one I know of is saying man is basically good, or that controls aren’t needed. Ledeen’s crowd, however, joins Machiavelli in using this Straw Man argument to justify their own version of power and manipulation:

…no bloody or unbloody change of society can eradicate the evil in man: as long as there will be men, there will be malice, envy and hatred, and hence there cannot be a society which does not have to employ coercive restraint.

Leo Strauss, The City and Man

All of this sounds mighty heady and out of touch, except for the fact that it is the actual philosophical underpinning for the actual government that actually runs our country at this actual moment.

Hitler gave Fascism a bad name. In a way, his government pushed to idea so far into insanity that modern Fascism didn’t have the opportunity to die its natural death like Communism did. So it just keeps lingering around. Fascism was presented as the "the rule of the powerful" in my high school history book, and Machiavelli was its prophet. It’s based on the idea that a strong leader must fight his way to power. There’s almost the implication that someone who can do that is naturally selected for leadership, a dubious premise in my opinion. So, the idea is something like an enlightened Fascism, with a leader who knows how to use the agencies of power: politics, religion, and the military. Sound familiar?

No one ever gets the flaw in the system. This view of man, universally held by Fascists, is based on their own make-up. It’s the way they are, projected onto us all. And, by definition, they always conclude that they are the supermen who need to run the show. It’s a rationalization true leaders don’t need. There will never be a "great" Fascist for that reason. I’m not even sure their hero, Mr. Reagan, was the great Fascist they make him out to be. I think he was just short-sighted and irresponsible, but had a swell speaking voice.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfield, Michael Ledeen – supermen? Not for one second. Never were. Never will be. No contest. Fascism is a rationalization for people who are driven to power, probably as a balm for their own insecurities and envy. Fascism actually selects for small [as in not very tall], creepy, unprincipled guys like Adolph, and Benito, and the  George_and_Karl show who already use manipulation for not so lofty reasons. After all, it’s just a synonym for justified lying.

Let’s hope that this round with the NeoFascistsConservatives will finally engrave the problem of Fascism in stone. It’s always a rationalization – always!

    Dawn C.
    May 30, 2006 | 1:46 PM

    The usually prolific Ledeen has not, to my knowledge, published an article since late April. (-A ridiculous piece of drivel, following his vain attempt to keep the echo-chamber of LIES in movement re: British Intel. was sound/Butler rept. was conclusive; Dubya was correct to use the sixteen words in the pre-war SOTU. Read it for a chuckle: http://www.nationalreview.com/ledeen/ledeen200604100726.asp

    My guess is either Ledeen is off ‘fomenting’ in Iran, or he has to lay low because of (overdue) likelihood that he’ll be called before the Grand Jury RE: THE FORGED NIGER DOCUMENTS/Office of Special Plans-[and JINSA or AEI?] complicity…
    But then,
    This unfortunate piece of news dropped my way yesterday: [today it receives a 404]
    Latest Articles: May 29, 2006
    “Echoes of Germany Under Hitler”:
    The Office of Iranian Affairs, Embedded Journalism, and the Disinformation Campaign for War on Iran by Gary Leupp

    “According to Laura Rosen of the Los Angeles Times, the Office of Special Plans has been reincarnated as the Office of Iranian Affairs, apparently housed in the same Pentagon offices inhabited by its predecessor and involving some of the same slimy personnel. Notably, Abram Shulsky, who headed the OSP under Douglas Feith, is back. His crew will be reporting to none other than Elizabeth Cheney, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and daughter of the Vice President. Dick Cheney is generally understood to be the strongest advocate for an attack on Iran in the administration. (He is also, by the way, architect of Bush’s “signing statements” appended to laws entitling him to ignore them. He is the man behind the throne, surrounded by neocon acolytes.)…..”

    The Laura Rosen article that Leupp is referencing: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-usiran19may19,0,3463436.story?coll=la-home-world

    Dawn C.
    May 30, 2006 | 1:48 PM

    M, I meant to thank you for your post(s) yesterday.
    If there is a Patriot Day, I’ll endorse YOU as a TRUE American Patriot.
    (This is my stance, even w/out a holiday to commemorate!)

    Dawn C.
    May 30, 2006 | 1:55 PM

    Watch for Ledeen to surface here:
    Benador Associates Public Relations to Promote First Arab Broadcast Forum to be Held in Abu Dhabi, June 4-5, 2006

    Dawn C.
    May 30, 2006 | 3:32 PM

    Gary Leupp article accessible again:

    Abby's mom
    May 31, 2006 | 4:34 PM

    “I’m not even sure their hero, Mr. Reagan, was the great Fascist they make him out to be. I think he was just short-sighted and irresponsible.” Not to mention that he had Alzheimer’s.

    June 4, 2006 | 9:57 PM

    […] Recently, I wrote about Paul Wolfowitz and Michael Ledeen, two of the architects of the Iraq debacle. It’s incomplete without Laurie Mylroie, though her public prominance has faded. She was a darling of A.E.I. in the Clinton years. After her book with Judith Miller [Saddam Hussein & the Crisis in the Gulf] in 1990, she wrote Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America in 2000. It was further out in right field. She proposed that Hussein was behind the first bombing attempt on the World Trade Centers, the Oklahoma City bombing, and most of the other world ills. She was a favorite of Scooter Libby while they were at A.E.I. together, his former wife worked with Mylroie. But her tour de force was Bush Vs the Beltway: How the CIA & the State Department Tried to Stop the War on Terror in 2003. It’s important because it is a window into the attitude of the neoconservatives towards the C.I.A. They thought the C.I.A. was misdirecting the U.S. toward Al Qaeda and away from the real culprits, Iraq and Iran. As in the P.N.A.C. letter to Clinton in 1998, there was a strongly held belief that the C.I.A. was a "liberal" group, an enemy. Indeed, on September 13, 2001, just two days after the attack on 911, Mylroie published an oped piece in the Wall Street Journal called The Iraqi Connection: Did Osama bin Laden act alone? Not likely. This is the attitude that made it easy for the Administration to ignore the C.I.A.’s evaluation of the Niger Forgeries, the I.N.C., etc. Such assertions seem ludicrous now, but at the time, she had a powerful influence in the circle that included the whole gang from A.E.I. who had been imported into Bush’s Administration. […]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.