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The Real History of American Relations With Iran

When I took over The New Republic in 1974 one of the first people I recruited--on a trip to Rome, as I recall--was Michael Ledeen, a scholar of Italian fascism. I think it was his doctoral supervisor and my friend, the great German Jewish historian, George Mosse, who suggested that we meet. But it actually was Claire Sterling, the brave journalist of uncomfortable truths, who introduced us. Michael was then working on a book about Gabriele d'Annunzio, the futurist poet, artist, fighter pilot, political theorist and neo-fascist adventurer who led a march on Fiume to keep it in Italian hands. The book was called D'Annunzio at Fiume.  (D'Annunzio was also legendary romantic and lover, having had among his affairs a especially tempestuous one with Eleanora Duse, perhaps the most renowned actress of the turn-of-the-century and Jewish besides. She was the model for Rodin's mournful bronze Teté de la doleur. Oh, how I wander.)

Michael is now widely thought of as a reactionary. This is the fate of many people who turn out to be uncannily correct early on about the cruel deceits of left-wing and anti-American movements. When we met for our first coffee at the Piazza Navona the good and the over-happy were beyond themselves with satisfaction that euro-communism was about to triumph all over western Europe. Ledeen dourly and correctly said "no." 

But he was very depressed about the new phenomenon of terrorism spreading through Europe, which he insisted had ties also to Palestinian barbarism. Those were the days of Arafat's Black September, which trained with the Baader-Mienhoff gang and made criminal contact all over the continent. Always Ledeen was thought to be too dire and too dure.

Anyway, I'm not going to give you Michael's full intellectual history. He wrote for TNR frequently, and we broke in an unspoken divorce. I regret this immensely. And I am confirmed in my regret in that he is one of the designated enemies of Pat Buchanan's American Conservative, anti-semitic and racist both.

All of this is by way of introduction to Ledeen's corrective essay, "We've Been Talking to Iran for 30 Years," in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal, of the falsified history of U.S. relations with Iran. American conservatives seem to be altogether detached from the calvary of Iran's free-thinking young. American liberals want to bury the story entirely. But Michael wants it alive, and I do too. If President Obama doesn't want to speak up for the true progressives of Persian civilization let him at least fork up some money to the revolution that has no ambitions to throttle Iraqi Sunnis or to obliterate the State of Israel.