World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Michael Ledeen

Michael Arthur Ledeen (born August 1, 1941) is an American historian, philosopher, neoconservative foreign policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the United States National Security Council, the United States Department of State, and the United States Department of Defense. He held the Freedom Scholar chair at the American Enterprise Institute where he was a scholar for twenty years and now holds the similarly named chair at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


  • Academic career 1
  • Work in Italy 2
  • Work in the United States 3
  • Yellowcake forgery allegations 4
  • Iraq War advocacy 5
  • Views on Iran 6
  • Controversial theories 7
  • Personal life 8
  • Bibliography 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11

Academic career

Ledeen holds a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy from the Benito Mussolini's efforts to create a Fascist international in the late 1920s and early 1930s. After leaving the University of Wisconsin-Madison Ledeen taught at Washington University in St. Louis but left after being denied tenure. Some faculty indicated the "quality of his scholarship" and about whether Ledeen had "used the work of somebody else without proper credit" was at issue but that "the 'quasi-irregularity' at issue didn't warrant the negative vote on tenure".[1]

Ledeen subsequently moved to Rome where he was hired as the Rome correspondent for The New Republic and named a visiting professor at the University of Rome. In Rome Leeden worked with Italian historian Renzo De Felice, who Leeden was greatly influenced by, and philosophically followed in, drawing a distinction between "fascism-regime" and "fascism-movement".[2] During this time Ledeen's political views developed to stress "the urgency of combating centralized state power and the centrality of human freedom"[3] Ledeen continued his studies in Italian Fascism with a study of the takeover of Fiume by Italian irredentist forces under Gabriele d'Annunzio, who Ledeen argued was the proto-type for Mussolini.

In 1980, in the period leading up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ledeen, along with PLO.

Ledeen has been a long time and active supporter of political dissidents, particularly those of Iranian nationality, and co-founded The Coalition for Democracy in Iran.

Work in Italy

Leeden worked for the Italian military agency Grey Wolves member Mehmet Ali Ağca's 1981 attempt to assassinate Pope John Paul II. The theory has since been attacked by various authors and journalists, including Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs, who initially believed the story as well. The theory was adopted in 2005 by the Italian Mitrokhin Commission. According to Craig Unger, "With Ronald Reagan newly installed in the White House, the so-called Bulgarian Connection made perfect Cold War propaganda. Michael Ledeen was one of its most vocal proponents, promoting it on TV and in newspapers all over the world."[5]

Work in the United States

In the early 1980s, Ledeen appeared before the newly established

  • Profile at International Analyst Network
  • Interview with Ledeen, Front Page Magazine, conducted by Jamie Glazov, 30 December 2003.
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • A film clip "The Open Mind – An Insiders Account of the Iran-Contra Affair (1988)" is available for free download at the Internet Archive
  • Michael Arthur Ledeen at Library of Congress Authorities, with 23 catalog records

External links

  1. ^ a b "Ledeen Seems To Relish Iran Insider's Role," Charles R. Babcock. The Washington Post. Washington, D.C.: February 2, 1987. pg. a.01.
  2. ^ "Flirting with Fascism", John Laughland, The American Conservative, 30 June 2003.
  3. ^ A Theory, Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, March 10, 2003.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b The War They Wanted, The Lies They Needed, Craig Unger, Vanity Fair, July 2006.
  6. ^ U.S. Senate. Hearing before the Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism. Terrorism: Origins, Direction and Support. 97th Congress, 1st session. April 24, 1981.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Iran-Contra II?, Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen & Paul Glastris, Washington Monthly Sept. 2004.
  11. ^ SmearRolling, Andrew McCarthy and Mark R. Levin, National Review Online, July 28, 2006.
  12. ^ a b Scowcroft Strikes Out, Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, August 6, 2002.
  13. ^ To Invade Iraq or Not; That is the Question. Jamie Glazov,, August 12, 2002.
  14. ^ What do National Review, Rich Lowry, and the AEI have to say about Michael Ledeen's lie Glenn Greenwald Unclaimed Territory, November 5, 2006
  15. ^ The Latest Disinformation from Vanity Fair Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, November 4, 2006
  16. ^ a b c Books on the Mideast. By Peter Beinart. The New York Times. Published September 9, 2007.
  17. ^ a b c Iran with the Bomb, or Bomb Iran: The Need for Regime Change. Michael A. Ledeen. Encyclopædia Britannica Blog. Published October 9th, 2007.
  18. ^ Raimondo, Justin (2002-11-18) The War Against the World, The American Conservative
  19. ^ a b United States Policy toward Iran. Michael A. Ledeen. American Enterprise Institute. Posted March 8, 2006
  20. ^ a b Iran Connects the Dots, Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, June 9, 2006
  21. ^
  22. ^ A Theory, Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, March 10, 2003
  23. ^
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Salvaging a Prudent Name". Landon Thomas, Jr. The New York Times. June 29, 2007. Retrieved 2014-05-20.


  • Universal Fascism; the Theory and Practice of the Fascist International, 1928–1936, New York, H. Fertig, 1972
  • co-written with Renzo De Felice Fascism : An Informal Introduction To Its Theory And Practice, New Brunswick, N.J. : Transaction Books, 1976 ISBN 0-87855-190-5.
  • "Renzo De Felice and the Controversy over Italian Fascism" pages 269–283 from Journal of Contemporary History, Volume 11, 1976.
  • The First Duce: D'Annunzio at Fiume, Baltimore; London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977 ISBN 0-8018-1860-5.
  • Italy In Crisis, Beverly Hills [Calif.] : Sage publications, 1977 ISBN 0-8039-0792-3.
  • co-written with
  • co-written with William Lewis Debacle, The American Failure in Iran, Vintage Books; 1st Vintage Books ed edition (1982) ISBN 0-394-75182-5
  • Grave New World, New York: Oxford University Press, 1985 ISBN 0-19-503491-0.
  • West European Communism and American Foreign Policy, New Brunswick, N.J., U.S.A. : Transaction Books, 1987 ISBN 0-88738-140-5.
  • Perilous Statecraft: An Insider's Account of the Iran-Contra Affair, New York: Scribner, 1988 ISBN 0-684-18994-1.
  • Superpower Dilemmas: the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. at Century's End, New Brunswick, U.S.A. : Transaction Publishers, 1992 ISBN 0-88738-891-4.
  • Freedom Betrayed: How America Led a Global Democratic Revolution, Won the Cold War, and Walked Away, Washington, D.C.: AEI Press, 1996 ISBN 0-8447-3992-8.
  • Machiavelli on Modern Leadership: Why Machiavelli's Iron Rules Are As Timely and Important Today as Five Centuries Ago, New York: Truman Talley Books/St. Martin's Press, 1999 ISBN 0-312-20471-X.
  • The War against The Terror Masters: Why It Happened, Where We Are Now, How We'll Win, New York: St. Martin's Press, 2002 ISBN 0-312-30644-X.
  • The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots' Quest for Destruction. Truman Talley Books, 2007. ISBN 0-312-37655-3. ISBN 978-0-312-37655-0.
  • Obama's Betrayal of Israel, New York: Encounter Broadsides, 2010 ISBN 978-1594034626


Ledeen is an accomplished contract bridge player. He has won one American Contract Bridge League national-level tournament, the 2009 Senior Swiss Teams, on a team-of-four with Karen Allison, Lea Dupont and Benito Garozzo.[25] He has also partnered Jimmy Cayne, who was the oldest CEO on Wall Street when he oversaw the collapse of Bear Stearns in 2007 and 2008. Consulted by a New York Times journalist early in the episode, Ledeen suggested that his book on the leadership lessons of Machiavelli had influenced Cayne, and observed that "Jimmy saw himself in Machiavelli ... you have to get rid of failure and you have to punish lack of virtue ruthlessly and all the time."[26]

Ledeen was born in Los Angeles, California. He is married to his second wife, Barbara. His first wife was Jenny Ledeen of St. Louis, Mo. Ledeen has three children: Simone, Gabriel, and Daniel. Simone has worked both in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Department of Defense; Gabriel is currently a Lieutenant in the United States Marines Corps serving his second tour in Iraq; and Daniel is currently serving a Lieutenant in the USMC.[24]

Personal life

Jonah Goldberg, Ledeen's colleague at National Review, coined the term "Ledeen Doctrine" in a 2002 column. This tongue-in-cheek "doctrine" is usually summarized as "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," which Goldberg remembered Ledeen saying in an early 1990s speech.[23]

In a 2003 column entitled "A Theory," Ledeen outlined a possibility that France and Germany, both NATO allies of the United States, "struck a deal with radical Islam and with radical Arabs" to use "extremism and terrorism as the weapon of choice" to weaken the United States. He stated, "It sounds fanciful, to be sure," but that, "If this is correct, we will have to pursue the war against terror far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East, into the heart of Western Europe. And there, as in the Middle East, our greatest weapons are political: the demonstrated desire for freedom of the peoples of the countries that oppose us."[22] See also: Eurabia (conspiracy theory)

[21] Ledeen was a board member of the "

Ledeen also believed that Iran is the main backer of the insurgency in Iraq and even supported the al-Qaida network formerly led by al-Zarqawi despite its declaration of jihad against Shi'ite Muslims.[20] He claimed that German and Italian court documents showed Zarqawi created a European terrorist network while based in Tehran.[20]

Controversial theories

"Those who believe that I am part of some “hawkish gang” just haven’t noticed that I am opposed to invasion or bombing the nuclear facilities. My fear is that, by failing to promote a non-violent democratization of Iran, we make large-scale violence much more likely."
"In any event, time will tell, and I share the fear of most commenters [sic] that we will indeed arrive at a horrible choice between Iran with the bomb, or bomb Iran, as Sarkozy and Kouchner have put it. And if that happens, it will demonstrate a terrible failure on the part of the West, including the United States, to craft a serious Iran policy lo these many years."[17]

Ledeen is currently against both an invasion of Iran or air-strikes within the country.[17][19] He has argued that the latter may eventually become necessary if negotiations with the Iranian government fail, but it would only be the least bad option of many options and it would lead to many negative unforeseen consequences.[19] The New York Times has called Ledeen's skepticism towards military action against Iran surprising given his opposition to the regime.[16] In October 2007, Ledeen argued that:

According to Justin Raimondo, Ledeen "holds up Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright as patsies for Khomeini—who supposedly believed that the Ayatollah overthrew Shah Reza Pahlavi because the Iranian government was 'excessively repressive and intolerant.' While it would not do to come right out and deny the savagery of the Shah’s legendary SAVAK secret police, Ledeen informs us that, under the monarch’s beneficent rule, 'Iran had become too modern, too tolerant—especially of women and of other religious faiths—and too self-indulgent. The shah had Westernized Iran'—except, perhaps, in his prisons, where the ancient methods of torture were routinely employed on dissidents of all sorts."[18]

Although Ledeen was in favor of invading Iraq, he also believes that Iran should have been the first priority in the "[17]

Views on Iran

Ledeen's statements prior to the start of the Iraq war such as "desperately needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein" and "dire need to invade Iraq" caused Glenn Greenwald to label his later statement that he "opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place" to be an "outright lie".[14] However, Ledeen maintains these statements are consistent since: "I advocated—as I still do—support for political revolution in Iran as the logical and necessary first step in the war against the terror masters."[15]

Question #2: Okay, well if we are all so certain about the dire need to invade Iraq, then when do we do so?
Ledeen: Yesterday[13]


So it's good news when Scowcroft comes out against the desperately needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the terror masters.[12]

Ledeen specifically called for the deposition of Saddam Hussein's regime by force in 2002:

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 cauldron 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.

Regarding the "pre-emptive" invasion of Iraq, in 2002 Ledeen criticized the views of former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, writing:[12]

Iraq War advocacy

Up until now, the fiction recklessly spewed by disgruntled intelligence-community retirees and their media enablers—some of whom have conceded that the claim is based on zero evidence—has been that Michael had something to do with the forged Italian documents that, according to the Left’s narrative, were the basis for President Bush’s “lie” in the 2003 State of the Union Address that Saddam Hussein had obtained yellowcake uranium (for nuclear-weapons construction) in Africa.

Colleagues Andrew McCarthy and Mark R. Levin have defended Ledeen, writing[11]

"The first meeting occurred in Rome in December, 2001. It included Franklin, Rhode, and another American, the neoconservative writer and operative Michael Ledeen, who organized the meeting. (According to UPI, Ledeen was then working for Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith as a consultant.) Also in attendance was Ghorbanifar and a number of other Iranians."

According to a September 2004 article by Joshua Micah Marshall, Laura Rozen, and Paul Glastris in Washington Monthly:[10]

Yellowcake forgery allegations

Ledeen was involved in the Iran–Contra affair as a consultant of National Security Advisor Robert C. McFarlane. Ledeen vouched for Iranian intermediary Manucher Ghorbanifar. In addition, he met with Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, officials of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Central Intelligence Agency to arrange meetings with high-ranking Iranian officials, whereby U.S supported Iranians would be given weapons by Israel, and would proceed to negotiate with Hizbollah for the release of hostages in Lebanon.[8] Ledeen's own version of the events is published in his book, Perilous Statecraft.[9]

[7] All four testified that they believed the Soviet Union had provided for material support, training and inspiration for various terrorist groupings.[6]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.