Jewish World Review Sept. 11, 2003 / 14 Elul, 5763
Ron Paul, dishonorable congressman
On July 10, Ron Paul,
a congressman from Texas, delivered a tirade against his version of neoconservatism.
He called it "Neo-Conned!"
and he posted it on his website and had it distributed as best he could.
A considerable part of it is devoted to his version of my writings, and
is so inaccurate, so distorted, and so nasty, as to make me wish once
again that this country had a decent libel law so that I could at least
get some money from him and give him a healthy dose of the public humiliation
he deserves. Unfortunately, members of Congress are protected from such
We've exchanged a
few e-mails, and the best he could come up with was a generic "if
I've gotten it wrong, I'm sorry," which is clearly not good enough
from a man who accuses me of advocating the very opposite of what I have
clearly written. He makes me into an advocate of big government, when
I wrote "" Freedom Betrayed: How America Led a Global
Democratic Revolution, Won the Cold War,
and Walked Away," a book that calls for open revolution against expanding
governmental power. He brands me an advocate of military invasion of Iran,
when I've written scores of articles and a good chunk of a well-known
book, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," that explicitly defines military
action against Iran a mistake. I want political action.
He takes many of
my descriptions of Machiavelli's thought (from my ""Machiavelli on Modern Leadership," ) and turns them often in distorted
form into my own advocacy. It's hard to explain to someone who
doesn't read very well that there's a difference between authors and the
subjects they write about. And he hasn't bothered to read my ""Tocqueville on American Character," , in which I discuss the urgency of combating
centralized state power and the centrality of human freedom in modern
The worst of Ron
Paul's diatribe is his total sliming of all those he calls neocons. He
says that, among other crazy and dangerous beliefs they (and therefore
accept the notion that the ends justify the means;
no opposition to the welfare state;
pertinent facts about how a society should be run should be held by
the elite and withheld from those who do not have the courage to deal
- hold Leo
Strauss in high esteem;
- say that
9/11 resulted from the like of foreign entanglements, not from too many;
attacks on civil liberties, such as those in the Patriot Act;
support Israel and have a close alliance with the Likud Party.
The last is the usual
garbage from extremists who don't like Jews. The rest are wrong. The "ends
and means" nonsense isn't even Machiavelli, although Paul thinks
it is. He says "there is a recognized philosophic connection between
modern-day neoconservatives and Irving Kristol, Leo Strauss, and Machiavelli."
More nonsense. In fact, when Irving Kristol commented on my Machiavelli
book, he went out of his way to criticize me for writing on such a subject,
because he felt so negatively about Machiavelli.
The heart of Paul's
attack on me is this paragraph:
In Ledeen's most
recent publication, The War Against the Terror Masters, he reiterates
his beliefs outlined in this 1999 Machaivelli book. He specifically
praises: "Creative destruction
both within our own society
(foreigners) seeing America undo traditional societies
may fear us, for they do not wish to be undone." Amazingly, Ledeen
concludes: "They must attack us in order to survive, just as we
must destroy them to advance our historic mission."
If those words
don't scare you, nothing will?
He conveniently leaves
out the context, which is a discussion of the basic conflict between us
and the terror masters: a conflict between freedom and tyranny. I argue,
as I argued during the Cold War with regard to Communism, and as I argued
in my books on fascism earlier, that the conflict between America and
tyrants is inevitable. It stems from the very nature of America, from
our unique freedom and creativity, which has often been described as "creative
destruction." Every serious writer about America has noticed the
amazing speed with which we scrap old ideas, technologies, art forms and
even the use of the English language. And it's obvious that more rigid
societies, particularly those governed by tyrants, are frightened by the
effects and the appeal of freedom on their own subjects. Our existence
threatens them, undermines their legitimacy, and subverts their power.
Therefore "they must attack us in order to survive," and, sooner
or later, we must confront them and, I hope and trust, defeat them in
order to advance our mission of spreading freedom.
It should embarrass
Congressman Paul to publicly expose himself as an ignoramus and a fool,
and if he had the integrity he so loudly proclaims in his own behalf,
he would have quietly apologized. But no; he just offers a weasely e-mail.
A final point: Paul's
accusations are not simply political disagreements, and his language is
not merely critical. He is trying to demonize an entire group of people.
He says we are not only wrong, but morally evil and an active danger to
American society and the peace of the world. His attack, like those coming
from the likes of Pat Buchanan and extremists on the other end of the
political spectrum (look at David Frum's recent encounter with some of
my leftist attackers), are incitements to personal violence.
And this self-proclaimed
libertarian hides behind the skirts of the very nanny state he so loudly
deplores. If we had a libel law worthy of the name, he'd either quickly
correct his statements and apologize to those he's libeled, or find himself
looking for the money to pay the damages he has certainly incurred.
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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Michael Ledeen