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FP: Let us suppose someone like Newt Gingrich becomes President in 2012 and gets the courage to make this a central theme of our national debate. He calls you and says, “Michael, what can and should my administration do about this?” What do you tell him?
Ledeen: Support the Iranian opposition. Talk to them, ask them what they need, and then get it to them.
FP: What are the prospects, do you think, of Iranians overthrowing the tyranny that oppresses them? In other words, can a revolution against the Mullahs succeed in the near future?
Ledeen: Yes it can succeed. The overwhelming majority of Iranians want it to succeed, and it would have succeeded long since, IMHO, if the opposition had had some outside help. But no Western country has helped.
FP: Your thoughts on Obama?
Ledeen: I think of him like a typical Ivy League undergraduate, gulled by political correctness, who doesn’t understand American greatness, and instead blames us for most of the world’s problems and injustices. He wants to cut America down to size.
FP: Looking back at your career and experiences, what are some of the key lessons you have learned that you think are crucial for an American administration to absorb and act upon?
Ledeen: There’s a lot to learn, and I’ve only learned a small part of it. But the main thing is what Machiavelli says to leaders: you will be judged on whether you win or lose, and everybody hates a loser. Unfortunately we have a generation of Western leaders who prefer to be nice losers. The other big thing is that the world looks to America for guidance; there is no escape from our role as a superpower…like it or not.
FP: Your perspective on Russia’s role vis-à-vis Iran?
Ledeen: Hah! My favorite mystery. There is no doubt that the Russians played a significant role in the creation of the Islamic Republic’s terror apparatus and intelligence services. That said, we (or at least I) don’t know nearly enough. I can’t believe that the Russians want the mullahs to have nuclear weapons; they know that the ayatollahs are constantly stirring up jihad in the Balkans. So, for example, when I hear about this computer “worm” I wonder if it’s the Russians…I think the Russians work very hard to get control over at least part of the Islamic Republic, but the Iranians do not trust them, and so there’s a kind of “balance of paranoia.” It’s a great subject. Ask Pacepa about it.
FP: Your thoughts on the Left’s behavior in our terror war in general?
Ledeen: What can I say? Too many of them want us to lose.
FP: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about our civilization’s will and capacity to defend itself from radical Islam?
Ledeen: I’m an optimist by nature, as my father was. I cannot imagine losing to a group that is locked in the 12th century. We are more adaptive, and stronger by orders of magnitude. They will lose every major battle, and eventually they will lose standing with the umma. When Iran finally comes down, the whole world will change for the better, and we will have a much easier time of it. It’s maddening to see that our leaders don’t seem to see the war whole, and don’t agree that regime change in Tehran is the best single stroke in the war against the terror masters. As it has been from day one. Somebody said that.
FP: Michael A. Ledeen, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
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