Michael Ledeen: Between Two Worlds

Roundup: Historians' Take

Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies

We are somewhere between the old bipolar Cold War world, which we generally understood, and to which most of the rest of the world had adjusted, and something else, we know not what. The consequent chaos and uncertainty is remarkable, especially after the long peace and stable international environment that followed the Second World War.  That is the underlying cause of an entire generation of leaders who either are obviously unable to master their challenges, or are applying ideological models from the recent past that are embarrassing anachronisms. Leaders like Putin, or Obama, or Mursi, for example, trot out  various explanations for their behavior, but the explanations don’t “fit” the real conditions they are dealing with.

To be sure, there’s a comic side to the spectacle:  the oracular class confidently laying out scenarios, most of which will be proven wrong in very short order.  Can you count the number or times you have read a presumably well-informed prediction of the Israeli assault on Iran? Or stories of clandestine U.S. military actions inside the Islamic Republic? Or detailed analyses of the Iranian nuclear program, based on IAEA data, at least some of which, the head of the Iranian program has said, were lies?

So the oracles are unreliable, just as we should expect. Whenever some captain of industry asks me to do a “risk assessment” for him, I tell him to save his money for blackjack or craps; the odds are better than betting on my–or anyone else’s–crystal ball....

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