Sunday, November 05, 2006
What Makes a Lie "Pathological"?
Gleen Greenwald catches Michael Ledeen asserting that he "opposed the military invasion of Iraq before it took place." Wow, that doesn't sound like the conventional wisdom coming from AEI in the runup to the war, does it? How had everyone missed Ledeen's voice in the wilderness on this one?
Of course, we didn't.
As Glenn points out, in a 2002 article in which Ledeen flashed his trademark blend of snarling condescention and ad hominem attacks, calling the coming invasion "the desperately-needed and long overdue war against Saddam Hussein." In another 2002 interview Glenn cites, Ledeen argued that "yesterday" was the proper time to invade.
Ledeen digs a deeper hold for himself today, responding by pointing to a passage in his book favoring support for an Iraqi revolution rather than an invasion. This establishes that Ledeen's ideal approach might not have been an invasion, but does nothing to establish that, in the actual world that exists, he "opposed" the invasion.
The only assertion in the passage that Ledeen quotes today that could remotely be taken to "oppose" the invasion is that "we do not want to pulverize the country." But no one except John "rubble doesn't make trouble" Derbyshire, and maybe whoever the guy is who articulated the "Ledeen Docrtine" would ever believe that we should act so amorally. And when it counted, in the real-world run-up to the war, Ledeen was an outspoken proponent of the invasion.
The strangest thing is that Ledeen's support from his target audience depends not a whit on whether anything that he said in the Iraq invasion debate was true. He's a card-carrying member of the VRWC. In conservative circles, it's not like you lose face by virtue of having been wrong about, say, the impact on the economy of the tax hikes of the early 1990s. The view that they'd send us into an economic tailspin was was completely wrong, of course, but it doesn't impact anyone's credibility among conservatives, because it fits conservative myths and prejudices.
All Ledeen had to do today was apologize for his bluster in asserting that he had "opposed the military invasion," which he evidently did not do. But just as his ideology depends on assertions and drive for American omnipotence, his psychology cannot account for his own infallibility.
Ledeen was wrong, and lied about being wrong, about the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. Prediction: he will remain an A-list conservative foreign policy "intellectual."
What kind of editor allows this sort of thing? "[D]esperately-needed and long overdue war"?