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Michael Ledeen reacts to the Iranian hostage taking of the British sailors.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

HH: Joined now by AEI, American Enterprise Institute’s own Michael Ledeen. He also posts at’s The Corner. Champagne Michael, we like to call him, happy feet himself. Michael Ledeen, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. What do you think is going on inside of Iran with these British sailors?

ML: Well, they’re being maltreated, as everybody in Iran is maltreated. And it’s a perfectly normal event. It’s what Iranians do. I mean, what I said about it earlier today on National Review Online is that it’s like the scorpion and the crocodile, you know, where the scorpion asked the crocodile for a ride across the river, and the crocodile said no, you’ll sting me, and the scorpion says I promise I won’t, I’ll be good. And so the croc goes for it, and the scorpion hops on, they get across to the other side, and the scorpion stings him.

HH: And asks why.

ML: Right. The croc says why, and the scorpion says because I’m a scorpion.

HH: (laughing) Right. Okay…

ML: So the answer to the question is why have the Iranians taken hostages is because that’s what they do. It’s what they’ve been doing forever. Why should anybody be surprised? They’ve been trying to do it all along. They’ve been trying to take Americans hostage. They succeeded with the British, because the British didn’t shoot back. We shoot back.

HH: Now the fact is that I just had on a British member of Parliament from the Conservative side, Brooks Newmark, of David Cameron’s party…

ML: Yeah.

HH: And it didn’t sound like Maggie Thatcher talking to me.

ML: No.

HH: Let’s say the phone rings, and it’s Tony Blair, and he says Michael Ledeen, what do you think I should do, what would you tell him?

ML: Proclaim the Iranian regime to be a rogue regime, call for regime change in Tehran, and start supporting the Iranian people. It’s what we should have been doing for the last, I don’t know how many years.

HH: Should accidents happen at gasoline refineries?

ML: It wouldn’t bother me at all. Should accidents happen at terrorist camps? Fine idea. Should American troops be told don’t respect the border anymore if you’re chasing Iranian troops, or Iranian terrorists back across into Iran? If you think you can get them, keep going. Should we go after the facilities inside Iran and Syria where they’re manufacturing these terrible explosive devices? Absolutely. Start defending ourselves. They have been at war with us for 28 years. We have yet to seriously reply.

HH: Brooks Newmark argued that Ahmadinejad showed great weakness in recent municipal elections, and that any use of force would strengthen his hand. How do you respond to that?

ML: Well, I mean, I can’t imagine that military defeat strengthens anybody’s hand. And secondly, Ahmadinejad is not the power in Iran. There’s a guy in Iran who has a job called supreme leader, which tells you something.

HH: Does he have to be in on the holding of these hostages?

ML: Does Ahmadinejad have to be…

HH: No, the supreme leader, Khatamei.

ML: Absolutely.

HH: Yup.

ML: This was done by Revolutionary Guards. Revolutionary Guards were created by the supreme leader precisely to serve as his praetorian guards. They respond to him. They take orders from him. Everything they do is approved by him. And if they do something that he doesn’t approve, they end up very nastily. So of course he approved them.

HH: Ought they go to the Security Council to get a condemnation of this action?

ML: Well, I’m sure they will, I’m sure they’ll go to Church to get a condemnation of it, too, but that won’t do any good. Words are not going to do any good. The thing that’ll probably work is if they pay ransom. What has historically worked to get hostages out in the Middle East, and Iran above all, is to pay a suitable price.

HH: But that’s a disaster in this situation, isn’t it? Whatever works gets repeated, Michael Ledeen.

ML: Well, yes, it’s been going on for a long time, Hugh. It’s been going on forever. And it does work.

HH: If Great Britain gets resolve of the sort that we saw in the Falklands, does the United States play an active and above board role in supporting that?

ML: I guess that depends on how the Brits feel about it.

HH: Okay, that’s a good point. Does it make any sense to have any use of force covert, although obvious and deniable? Or is it necessary to make it overt and ownable?

ML: Well, the main weapon against Iran is political, not military. And that should be as open as possible. We should…you’ve got the overwhelming majority of Iranians who hate this regime and want to see it downed. Support them. And again, that’s up to them, just as our working with the Brits is up to the Brits. If they think it helps them to get it openly, overtly, do it that way. If they’re afraid that they’re seen being supported by us, it’ll be too costly for them, do it covertly. But it’s their call, not ours. It’s not our convenience. It’s their lives.

HH: How long do you expect this is going to last, Michael Ledeen? Last question.

ML: Oh, nobody knows. Who knows? I mean, if the Brits decide to pay a suitable price tonight, it could be over tomorrow morning. But the point is there’s nothing extraordinary about this. This is a normal event. And the Iranians are waging war against us above all in Iraq right now, and they’re going to keep taking hostages. There’s a story in the current U.S. News and World Report, which your listeners really must read, which tells how an Iranian army platoon tried to capture a bunch of Americans doing a border patrol last September. And it’s all laid out in great detail. U.S. News has the army report it. It tells you everything you want to know. And the fact that this thing happened now is because they got lucky now. And they ran into the Brits who had rules of engagement that forbade them to shoot against the Iranians.

HH: Clearly, do you believe that Americans need rules of engagement and anticipate similar attempts to take hostages, and authorize the use of deadly force in response?

ML: Yes, absolutely. And I think we’ve got them now.

HH: Very good. Michael Ledeen, thanks for joining us on short notice. We’ll stay in touch with you as the days unfold, and hopefully, we get the Brits back very, very soon.

End of interview.

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