Ledeen To Be Upstaged by Newt

It looks like the September 10 roll-out at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) of Michael Ledeen’s “The Iranian Time Bomb” (with James Woolsey and ret. Gen. Jack Keane) is going to be upstaged by none other former Speaker of the House and still-possible 2008 Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who will be delivering a major policy address earlier in the day in AEI’s very same Wohlstetter Conference Center. The subject? “What If? An Alternative History of the War Since 9/11.” (Note how War is singular — as in the “World War IV” rubric coined by Condi’s latest Counselor, Eliot Cohen, and heavily promoted by Woolsey and Norman Podhoretz or the “War for the Free World,” a favorite expression of Frank Gaffney — a reflection of the hawks’ conviction that Saddam, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Baathist government of Syria, the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia, etc. are all part of the same phenomenon, or what Ledeen has called the “Terror Masters”. Here’s AEI’s description of the event:

It has been almost six years since the attacks of 9/11, and the United States has yet to confront the threat posed by the irreconcilable wing of Islam. The current strategy, structures, and resources of the American security apparatus are utterly inadequate to meet the challenges confronting the country. The United States faces active enemies that work every day to destroy it. Still, the United States does not act with the urgency of purpose required for victory. In comparison, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it took the United States and its allies less than four years to defeat Italy, Germany and Japan. In less than four years, the United States built a two-ocean navy, put 15,500,000 men and women in uniform, produced more than 50,000 aircraft a year (and more than 100,000 armored vehicles in 1944 alone) and built the most expensive project, the B-29, and the second most expensive project, the atomic bomb. The gap between what it will take for the United States to win this war and what is actually being done is so wide that only by developing an alternative history is it possible to make clear the scale of change required.
What if the policy vision contained in President Bush’s national security speeches since 9/11 had been systematically implemented? What if the American people and free people everywhere had come to recognize that since 9/11 the United States and its allies are engaged in a world war that pits civilization against terrorists and their state sponsors who wish to impose a new dark age? What would the world look like today? This speech will explore the development of, and describe, a war-winning strategy. This event is the beginning of a conversation to which everyone concerned about defending civilization and defeating evil is invited to contribute their ideas over the coming year. The result of this ongoing discussion will be published next year.

Now, I may be mistaken here, and frankly I don’t know what precisely President Bush’s “policy vision” as laid out by his national security speeches since 9/11 has been, but it’s my impression that the president has so far gotten from Congress virtually everything he has asked for in order to implement that “vision” in a systematic way. It seems that Gingrich is implying that the only problem in implementing that vision is that “the American people and free people everywhere” simply failed to recognize the stakes and that they must be prepared to spend far more in blood and treasure — especially treasure — than they have to date. This sounds like a defense contractor’s dream and reminds us that Likudnik neo-conservatives are not the only lobby whose interests are so aggressively pushed by AEI’s foreign-policy team.

In any event, it will be interesting to see how Gingrich’s speech will fit into the “Post-Labor Day Product Roll-Out: War With Iran” scenario so ominously described this week by the habitually highly sober, sensible, and well-connected Afghanistan expert, Barnett Rubin, but I suspect Newt wants to get his oar into the effort, and, hopefully, some press attention, as well, if, for no other reason than to keep himself in the public eye, particularly during a week when his fellow-AEI associate and possible political rival, Fred Thompson, officially throws his hat into the presidential ring. While I’m sure that Gingrich will have the courtesy to plug Ledeen’s new book, I suspect that AEI’s “Freedom Scholar” will not be pleased by his second billing.

A propos AEI, my good friend and Cascades companion, Steve Clemons, has an excellent post on his blog, on AEI’s corporate-ideological contradictions (and Norm Ornstein as well), a topic I also addressed in an August 3 post, “AEI: Caught Between Its Likudist Heart and Its Corporate Head.” I heard from a knowledgeable source this past week that several companies have recently informed AEI president Chris De Muth that they will no longer contribute to the organization because they do not see their interests being served by AEI’s foreign-policy agenda. I suspect that AEI’s upcoming live video-dialogue with Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, may also prove somewhat detrimental to its relations with corporate contributors that have major interests in China. And, given Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte’s harsh warnings this past week against any effort by Chen to pursue UN membership – the very subject on which Chen will be speaking at AEI — I don’t suppose the administration will be too happy either. On the other hand, Taiwan, which retained AEI fellow John Bolton’s legal and polemical services during the 1990’s and has also, according to several sources, contributed to AEI’s coffers over the years, is being pressed to buy a lot of weapons from U.S. military contractors, the same ones who are likely to be applauding Gingrich’s “alternative history” in the Wohlstetter Conference Center next week.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. It’s a terrible pity. Iran is a young country that is ready to throw off the old theocrats and live in a modern society. If we’d leave them alone they would turn themselves into our ally in 15 years’ time.

    By the way, do you suppose Ledeen’s book will explain where we are going to get the troops to have a war with Iran? Or will bombing the nuclear facilities every six months or so be enough to turn the Iranians into decent, God-fearing Christians?

  2. The US attack against Iran will primarily be an air war, with some special forces effort on oil rigs, missile sites etc. Targets will include not only nuclear sites but thousands of military sites.

    Iran is a large country, more than twice the size of Texas, with 65 million people, and is strategically located with over two thousand miles of coastline on the Persian Gulf and on the Arabian and Caspian Seas. An attack on Iran will galvanize the Iranian people and their military.

    Iran, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, has formidable defenses, including air defense weapons and many varieties of ship-borne torpedoes, mines and cruise missiles which could put a severe hurt on an attacking force. The advent of inexpensive, easily-employable cruise missiles has evened the military playing field. Remember the 40-by-40 foot hole put in the USS Cole, and the crippling of the Israeli missile boat Hanit by a Hezbollah cruise missile in the Mediterranean Sea. Iran also has fast torpedo boats and three submarines. Imagine missiles with 400-pound warheads striking US ships in the confines of the Gulf, while Iran closes off the Straits of Hormuz to any rescue attempts. Meanwhile they activate their agents and allies in Iraq to attack US forces there.

  3. The goal is war without end. This is incredibly cynical – but I honestly believe the goal in attacking Iran would be to provoke a reaction more than anything else. A broader, bloodier war would be the only thing to sustain and increase our military presence in the Middle East after 2008. The plan is to turn the Iranians into the threat the neocons say they are. This self-fulfilling prophecy approach has worked well in the past — Remember the pre-Iraq war warnings about Al-Qaeda in Iraq? They weren’t there then, but they are now… Iran has been a state sponsor of terror, but we haven’t seen anything yet. An attack on Iran could prevoke the Iranian behavior of which Michael Ledeen fantasizes….

  4. First, a quick and, I hope, not embarrassing thank-you for all your fine reporting and analysis. I am among a legion of concerned Americans who count on you to help us understand what the hell is going on, especially after the Bush phenomenon fell upon this country after the stolen 2000 election, so it’s terrific to have you blogging now.

    I was among a group of bloggers to whom Wesley Clark confirmed over a year ago exactly what Don Bacon has described above, with some possible special forces ops on the ground, the troops inserted and removed by air. He also said that with the US in Iraq in force, Bush & Co. would have to be insane to act on any such plans, but no one should think such meant it wouldn’t happen.

    And I agree with NTEL, the goal is perpetual war. That’s what makes Bush and the whole WW IV Republican Party so dangerous; there is no downside for them no matter how disastrous the result of their actions. That such an attack would almost guarantee the Mullahs will be charge of that country for the next 100 years isn’t a problem for Ledeen, or for Gingrich, because the increase in political strength to the forces of nationalism and repression inside Iran can can and will be used as a justification that they were indeed a long-term threat worthy of attack, because look, they are still in charge and now hitting us back in Iraq. That an argument that nutty has worked again and again I lay at the door of our corporate media.

    I suspect that what Gingrich will be about in his presentation is to argue that Bush’s way was the wrong way, but the failure wasn’t only his, i.e., he was undone by the ineptitude of the entire government, especially the State Dept, but especially the Federal bureaucracy and then argue that taking on Iran is somehow different from Bush policy.

    I also think this rollout is something more than an indication that any kind of decision has been made by Bush about an attack; he wants to do it, especially because it would present his successor with a nightmare in which America’s role in the world will be significantly weakened, and then the entire mess created by Bush in the last eight years becomes the fault of someone else, probably a Democrat, but Bush doesn’t care if it’s a Republican.

    What this roll out is all about is the 2008 election, and using Iran as an issue in the same way Rove/Bush used “Iraq” in 2004, to charge again and again that Democrats are weak on issues of “defense” and “homeland” security, don’t get that we’re in an existential struggle for survival. Gingrich is smart enough to realize that Republicans have to find a way to distance themselves from Bush even while they run on exactly the same take on security issues as Bush, and with no more clues about the difference between genuine policy-making and clever propaganda, so it will be interesting to see what he comes up with at his AEI presentation.

  5. Exactly–perpetual war. It makes things soooo much easier for our Number One, either R. or D. If you don’t really screw it up, IOW Bush it up, then it’s great for total domestic control. The border patrol checkpoint on a nearby interstate has new signs up telling us that the threat level is elevated, and informs us of the great results coming from this domestic impediment to travel in terms of threat and drug abatement. A big thank you to Homeland Security!

    In Iraq the US military was complicit in the Feb. 20006 Samarra mosque bombing which brought us the Iraq civil war, our reason for staying in Iraq, and now the US military is tilting toward the Sunnis and arming these former US troop killers (supported by the Saudis) while it tells us that the Iranians are now our real enemy. It’s the Iranians who have kept us from victory! Most of the foreign fighters coming into Iraq are Saudis (like the 9/11 attackers) but hey, Saudi Arabia is our friend. The official line: The Iranians have surged in Iraq. The Iraq ‘government’ is allied with Iran but we can fix that by smacking Iran, which Congress has declared to be our top enemy.

    It’s enough to make one nostalgic for the good old days of ‘all Monica all the time’, rather than all war all the time.

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