Monday, November 15, 2004
The Dutch, Ledeen & an unrepentant Nazi
When I was a boy frolicking in my grandma’s back yard in the summers, I would occasionally hear my uncle and father, in one of their more jovial moods, laugh outrageously while reminiscing about an old man and a monkey they had once bumped into in their youth. Apparently the encounter had made quite an impression.
Our enterprising street performers, as they recounted, had developed a routine very much popular among the drunken night prowlers in the more rowdy part of Tehran. I would never tire of hearing their tale.
The old man would wait for a large crowd and then ask his faithful sidekick to point to the “rightful place” of a friend. The monkey, of course, would place a hand on his head. The mob would cheer.
Now remember this is under the monarchy. Quite a magnificent looking crown adorned the imperious head of our omniscient Fathers then. That gesture must have meant much in those times.
Then the old man would ask the monkey to point to the proper place for an enemy. The monkey then would sort of “moon” the spectators and point to his anus. The crowd would go wild, laughing and jeering in frenzy.
Around this same time frame--give or take a few years, and unbeknownst to our pathetic street performers trying to eke out a meager living in Tehran, a far more cerebral cousin in Germany had been busy developing this magnificent insight, quite successfully I might add, into an influential paradigm of the Political.
In fact, I am talking here about one of Weimer’s most brilliant minds whose influential theory has withstood the “test of time,” as some claim. A man whose “towering” intellect or logic of insights-- I can’t be certain which-- would land him in the Nazi Party in or around 1933!
Whether his collaboration was motivated by opportunism, careerism, or a manifestation, solely, of a vacuous spiritual vacuity, one thing is for sure: he did make his repugnant choices freely. And he refused to participate in any denazification program so he couldn’t teach. Don’t ask me for further explanations! I can’t help you there.
I am perpetually baffled by how power inevitably always allures intellectuals. Some day, I hope to finally understand why it is precisely that smart people feel the need to be such unapologetic sycophants.
Someday soon, perhaps, I will come to learn why some intellectuals feel the need to promulgate the sort of “myths,” which are the essential prerequisite for the emerging frenzy that allows tyrants to butcher innocent people in order to “subdue” the independent or otherwise force “other” people to “submit.”
I am telling you all this is because of the latest amusing musings of our Viceroy- in-Waiting Ledeen. He has written about the Dutch madness.
I have been ruefully observing the developments in Holland lately. Now I must tell you, I really adore the Dutch. I have been in awe ever since passing through their beautiful land as a boy. I’ve liked them even more as an adult--both aesthetically, and culturally.
The native Dutch are mostly tall and their pale skin has a certain reddish glow to it. They appear comfortable in their own skin, and are warm, receptive, multilingual, and often manage to present a disarming smile to boot. Their openness and congeniality I find enthralling. You will find all sorts of people, these days, from all the various corners of our planet meandering in their cities.
So I have tried not to worry much and continue to hope for the quick return of sanity to Holland. I trust they will find their way out of their predicament. As reformed colonialists, the Dutch, I am confident, will discover the appropriate medley of coercion and consensus in order to reassert a measure of control over some of their more unruly citizens and those barbaric assassins in their midst.
Not according to Mr. Ledeen, though.
Now I know it seems as if every time I write about this adorable little savior, I am nagging about something or other. But please recognize that I genuinely like the fellow. He is witty, sharp and a shrewd operative. I consider him one of our very own and certainly amongst the best and the brightest Iranians ever!
Mr. Ledeen has an uncanny ability to communicate the most complex of ideas without sounding bookish. Always an indication of a lucid mind and an excellent educator.
And I know some might think this honor among thieves, but Mr. Ledeen has been exemplary, and I think impressive, in his reticence about the alleged conduct of his old friend Chalabi. In an age when everyone is quick to stab a friend or colleague in the back at the first sign of any trouble, I find it endearing that he has chosen to stick it out and remain a loyal and supportive friend.
Mr. Ledeen also appears to be a good father--if the conduct of his daughter is any indication.
I know I was very critical of how Simone Ledeen seemed to have landed a job in Iraq and well frankly, quite furious about the scope of her assigned responsibilities—helping to manage as an intern 13 billion in Iraqi assets. But her commendable audacity must be acknowledged. She could have made the choice to stay home to make loads of money in the safety of the familiar and to be a desktop warrior from afar.
Instead, she was out there gallivanting around Iraq. Much like her father, she is not afraid of wrestling with pigs. At least this family has the courage of convictions. That said, I am not about to start a Ledeen Adulation Club in Tehran any time soon. There is much that I find distasteful about his views and he is a tad too gossipy for my taste. Don’t believe me?
Humor me then by going through his articles and count all the number of times we were told how the dreaded Iranian Bomb was about to go off. Make a note as well of all the other authoritative pronouncements about Iran that may appear-- in retrospect-- as pure bunk.
And while I think him essentially correct in his “creative destruction,” thesis which everyone has been giving him flak about, his conclusions, I think, leave a lot to be desired. Mr. Ledeen’s latest piece, however, is simply much too much--even for me.
So do yourselves a favor and read carefully his deceptively stark take on the Dutch affair and then reach for your copy of Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political. If you don’t have a copy, go buy one.
Mr. Schmitt is the German fellow I was telling you about who perfected our monkey’s insights independently. Mr. Schmitt is also, for now at least, everyone’s favorite unrepentant Nazi.
Stay tuned. We are going to try some close textual reading here soon!