Michael Ledeen is a key figure in the neo-con firmament, a man whose ideas about the Arab world have been thoroughly proven false time and time again. It therefore makes sense that Australia’s leading Zionist lobby, AIJAC, has invited him here on a speaking tour to discuss his latest book, The Iranian Time Bomb (about a country he admits to never having visited).

AIJAC wholeheartedly backed the Iraq invasion and occupation and now advocates a military option against the Islamic Republic, both in the name of protecting the Jewish state.

In 2002, Ledeen argued in National Review Online of the “desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters”. To support the invasion, Ledeen wrote “that Saddam is actively supporting al Qaeda, and Abu Nidal, and Hezbollah.” His wish? “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.”

Ledeen now regularly claims he never supported the invasion, an outright falsehood as easy to prove as using Google.

Ledeen – praising John Howard last weekend as the “arguably the greatest Western leader of the past decade” – spoke last night at the Sydney Institute and outlined, in his deceptively calm manner, why Iran is the “centre of world terrorism” and has backed al-Qaeda since the mid 1990s, supports Hizbollah which, he claims, has killed more people in its history than al-Qaeda and how internal dissent is always brutally punished (he must have conveniently missed the thriving online culture, including attacks against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the vibrant Islamist blogs.

Iran is undoubtedly a repressive regime – something I discovered myself earlier in the year while researching a forthcoming book about the internet in non-democratic countries – but Ledeen’s suggestion that the “Iranian people want a revolution” to overthrow the Mullahs contradicts the vast evidence that American funding of pro-democracy groups actually hinders the cause of freedom.

Of course, Ledeen probably doesn’t hear these realities when speaking to American Enterprise Institute-funded, Iranian dissidents who want America or Israel to “liberate” the country. Every Iranian I met consistently said they didn’t want another revolution, especially one imported from Washington, but rather gradual reform.

For a man who was personally involved in Reagan’s Iran-Contra affair and allegedly played a role in spreading bogus intelligence before the Iraq war, Ledeen’s credentials as an authority on what Iranians want is negligible. (He even dared to suggest that “in Iraq, living is approaching normal in most of the country.”)

This deluded worldview argues that the Iranians are crazy and utterly incapable of compromise with the West, determined to destroy our way of life with nuclear weapons. In fact, the Mullahs generally act rationally and advocate their self-interest.

The Ledeen doctrine is expressed thus: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

Peter Fray

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