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Jewish World Review June 5, 2003 / 5 Sivan, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth. | If you want to understand how low academic standards have fallen, I can give you a fine case in point. A few weeks ago, I was slandered by a professor from Brown University by the name of William Beeman. He's an anthropology professor, and the head of the Middle East studies program at Brown, and in addition to his scholarly work he churns out polemics for the Pacific News Service and such out-of-the-way publications as the Beirut Daily Star.

In his PNS slander ("The Unknown Hawk," May 8), Beeman claimed that I had advocated the military invasion of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, that I was the dominant force behind Operation Iraqi Freedom, and that I advocated "total war." He then presented a quotation that he said had come from me:

Total war not only destroys the enemy's military forces, but also brings the enemy society to an extremely personal point of decision, so that they are willing to accept a reversal of the cultural trends,? Ledeen writes. "The sparing of civilian lives cannot be the total war's first priority ... The purpose of total war is to permanently force your will onto another people."

Unlucky. I never said it. Of course, I never said most of the other things he slimed me for, either: Never called for military attack against Iran, Lebanon, or Syria — indeed I have said over and over again that I'm against it. So I posted a reply on the PNS website, pointing out that he had it all wrong, to which he "replied" with three long fulminations, basically confessing malice — he announced that he had hated me for years, because of an imagined slight during a terrorist "game" videotaped in 1980 — but never bothering to address his lies about my work.

Unlucky again. One of the other bloggers tracked down the quotation to another author. So when, a couple of days later, the San Francisco Chronicle published his slander as an op-ed, I wrote to the editor to say that Beeman had falsified my ideas, and had, in fact, known he had done it before the op-ed was published, since this misquote had been documented on a website discussion of that very article.

Within hours of my letter to the Chronicle, Beeman sent me, the Chronicle, and PNS an apology for the misquote (not for the other slanders, however), and both published it promptly. PNS even invited me to contribute an article of my own to their site, which I intend to do. And you might have thought that would be the end of it. You'd have been wrong. A couple of days ago he went back on the attack, this time in the Beirut Star, of all places. This time he was out to make me into a monarchist, a supporter of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late shah of Iran. It's a tough case to make because there's no evidence for it. No problem for Beeman; he just invents it:

  • He says that I spoke in Los Angeles at a "rally for monarchists." Wrong. It was a meeting of the Iranian-American community of southern California, including all the political tendencies of the community;

  • He says that I am "frequently photographed with Reza Pahlavi." Wrong again. It may have happened, but I can't remember a single occasion;

  • And when his imagination runs dry, he says that although my intention is "clearly to restore the Pahlavi dynasty," I'm "exceptionally careful about making this pronunciation openly or in print." He reads my mind!

He invents other things, too. He says I was a founder of the Coalition for Democracy in Iran. Wrong again. I was asked to participate in its activities well after its creation.

And so forth. He's an inventive slanderer who nonetheless holds an important tenured position at one of most prestigious universities. To his credit, he doesn't just invent things about other people; he even gets his own academic record wrong. If you go to his vita on the Brown University website, you'll find that he takes credit for organizing something — and being paid for it — under the auspices of the "Office of Net Analysis" at the Department of Defense.

Unlucky yet again. There is no such place. He meant to say "Net Assessments," the Pentagon's think tank, often branded as a hawkish outpost from which the likes of Paul Wolfowitz draw inspiration.

Just for extras, back in March he wrote that Bill Kristol was the editor of something called the National Standard.

Maybe this sort of thing is stylish in today's postmodern academic universe, where feelings trump facts and accuracy is all relative. Maybe I'm wrong to think that university professors ought to check a fact or two before sliming someone with whom they disagree. Beeman certainly had my e-mail address after his first fiasco, and could — should, in my view — have asked if I were a closet monarchist. But no, he liked the way it sounded, and so he said it.

It may well be that Beeman's academic work is better than his political sorties. Let's hope so, because if his peers were to judge his scholarship based on his journalistic forays, they'd regret their tenure decision. But this is unlikely to happen, since he's part of a network that holds the same view of accuracy as he does.

I knew that Beeman's slander was on the way at least a week before it arrived, because there was a little announcement on Gary Sick's web page — which goes out to Middle East hands that share Beeman's and Sick's fondness for the tyrannical regime in Tehran — saying that Beeman was looking for dirt on me, and anyone in possession of damaging material on any aspect of my life should send it on to Beeman. Gary Sick was the creator of one of the most monstrous hoaxes in recent American political history, the myth of the "October Surprise," according to which the Reagan electoral team used secret back channels to the Iranian regime to prevent the release of the American hostages in order to win the 1980 election against Jimmy Carter. After an exhaustive investigation, the whole thing was found baseless. Today, Sick — remarkably enough, a professor at Columbia University — does all he can to help Iran's leaders gain friends in the United States.

One final note. Last Friday I got an e-mail from a reporter at the Beirut Daily Star, saying he was coming to Washington, and asking for an interview. I suggested that he send me the questions by e-mail and I would respond in writing. When he arrived in Washington on Monday, he tried again to get me to do it on the phone, and I again said it would be better to do it in writing. I haven't seen any questions from him, although he said he'd get them to me very quickly.

I don't expect to see them. After all, the Star publishes William Beeman.

Isn't that where all top Ivy League professors like to see their essays published?

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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.


05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's ‘Gulag’
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen