Common Defense Richard Falknor on 18 May 2011 10:51 am
Michael Ledeen brings both deep learning and hands-on national-security experience to bear on our current struggle with Political Islam overseas.
He occasionally passes along his insights by interviews (from the other side) with the late James Jesus Angleton who was a towering counter-intelligence figure.
On May 4 Ledeen asked (Pajamas Media) What if the Killing of Bin Laden Is the Beginning of The Great American Retreat?
“ML [Michael Ledeen]: ‘So maybe it’s a three-cushion shot?’
JJA [James Jesus Angleton]: ‘Maybe. We agree to pull back, maybe even out. Al-Qaeda — the anti-bin Laden part, anyway — makes the same deal (they relocate to Cairo or Luxor). And all the Paks want is a guarantee from us concerning the operation.’
ML: ‘Which is?’
JJA: ‘Which is that Osama is NOT going to be interrogated.’
ML: ‘Right, of course! Because they don’t want him to tell us about…’
JJA: ‘About THEM. And also about others, by the way. About Zawahiri, about the Saudi deals, about all the help AQ has gotten from Assad in Syria. It’s quite a long list. All of them want him dead. None of them wants him interrogated, and least of all on a witness stand, be it military or civilian.’
ML: ‘So that explains many things about the operation, doesn’t it?’
JJA: ‘It explains why no Pakistani, not a soldier, not a cop, not even a curious citizen, ran over to see what was going on at the villa for three quarters of an hour, despite all the noise. It explains why there was no reaction whatsoever from the Paks when we invaded their air space and operated inside — well inside — their borders for what was probably several hours.’
ML: ‘Yes, I’ve been trying to call attention to that.’
JJA: ‘That’s my boy! It wasn’t totally a joint operation but we undoubtedly agreed on some rules. We would kill him — apparently one of his daughters is now saying that we captured him without resistance and then executed him, which tracks with my view of things — and they would give us time, and calm, at the villa.’
ML: ‘And so all the chest-pounding about Pakistani duplicity is a deception.’
JJA: ‘Of course it is. But there weren’t many who were doubting it, were there?’
ML: ‘Nope. Everybody wanted to celebrate. My friend Toby over at the London Telegraph was one of the few exceptions.’
JJA: ‘A Brit, not one of the American herd…’
ML: ‘Well thanks, Jim. Just one more thing if you are so inclined?’
Read the entire Ledeen-Angleton exchange.
In a lighter vein, columnist and lawyer Clarice Feldman added last Sunday (American Thinker) —
“Michael and Barbara Ledeen were out of town. They left a few things in my safekeeping, and — listen, I know it was wrong — I decided to try his Ouija board to see if it would be as lucky for me as it has been for him.
I’m happy to report that it was. No, I didn’t get his old friend Angleton. I got Osama. He was, you’ll be happy to hear, bitterly unhappy at the news accounts of his life which have appeared in the world press since he went to sleep with the fishes.”
Separating the Important from the Obvious
These fanciful Ouija board conversations are not simply entertaining diversions. They model a path for us.
We conservatives must ask the same kinds of probing questions about how our putative allies and adversaries overseas operate — as we have learned to do so well about domestic actors. We have gotten pretty good at asking who profits from what tax hikes, who gains from what spending, what companies benefit from what regulations they support behind the scenes, and what politicians frequently talk “right” while acting left.
Just as conservatives would not want to approve domestic government initiatives without subjecting them to the now familiar filters for crony capitalism and crony socialism — we should not fail to apply tough scrutiny to matters overseas.
Of course, this is no time for isolationism — if any time since our wars with the Barbary pirates was ever such a time — but we have to identify our genuine friends and our key interests overseas. Survival, and the constraints of our current economy both demand that we do so.
The answers that Michael Ledeen puts in the mouth of the late Mr. Angleton may not always be the correct ones. But Ledeen’s way of thinking and probing is an important tool in assessing our foreign policy and operations.
Politics may stop at the water’s edge, but smart oversight should not.