The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies

The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (Michael Ledeen, July 19, 2016)

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About the speaker

Dr. Michael Ledeen’s new bookField of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies (St. Martin’s Press, 2016), is co-authored with Lt. General Michael T. Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Senator Joseph Lieberman writes, it is a book “worth reading by anyone concerned about the future security of America.”

Dr. Ledeen spent more than 20 years at the American Enterprise Institute and is now the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is an internationally renowned scholar on Iran, Iraq, terrorism, and international security.

Dr. Ledeen has served as a consultant to the National Security Council and the Defense Department, and as a Special Advisor to the Secretary of State during the Reagan administration. He holds a PhD in modern European history and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.

He is the author of more than 35 books, including Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the WestThe War Against the Terror MastersThe Iranian Time Bomb;  and Freedom Betrayed: How America Led a Global Democratic Revolution, Won the Cold War, and Walked AwayField of Fight was available for purchase and signing.


Robert Reilly:

Before I introduce our speaker, I want to acknowledge the presence of his wife, Barbara Ledeen, in the audience. And I have a special reason for doing that, not only because of her wonderful children, her daughter who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and two marines officers sons, but thanks to her work on Capitol Hill with the Republican Conference Committee. I and some of my colleagues in the Pentagon in the second Bush Administration were able to do things for our country that we would not have been able to do had Barbara Ledeen not been there to get the support for us to do those things. So, I have few occasions in public to acknowledge her and thank her.

Now, Dr. Michael Ledeen, who I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years is a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and he was for many years at the American Enterprise Institute. He’s a renowned scholar on Iran, Iraq, terrorism, and international security. Dr. Ledeen has served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, the Defense Department, and was a special advisor to the Secretary of State.

During the Reagan Administration, I recall when I first went to the White House to work on the White House Outreach Working Group on Central America, President Reagan had recently liberated Grenada and one of the people assigned to study and analyze the papers that were captured on Grenada by our troops was none other than Dr. Ledeen, so he came to the White House Outreach Working Group in the White House and made a presentation about what he had discovered and the significance of it. There, embedded in my memory forever was a phrase he used, referring to the Cuban construction workers and their automatic, repeating shovels. Remember Mike?

Dr. Ledeen holds a PhD in Modern European History and Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin. He’s taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome where he enjoys the cuisine. He’s the author of more than 35 books, so he is prolific and those include Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West, the War Against the Terror Masters, the Iranian Time Bomb and other works, but what he is here to speak on tonight is the book that just came out a week ago. And I must report an Amazon Prime failure because I ordered a number of copies and sadly got the news earlier this week they couldn’t be here before Wednesday, so I went to Barnes & Noble and bought all of the copies they had there and I see they’ve disappeared from the sales table quickly. I’m sure Dr. Ledeen would be happy to sign those for you after his talk on, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies.” Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ledeen.

Michael Ledeen:

Thank you, thank you. Everybody wants to know what it is like writing a book with a three star general and I wanted to know myself. Flynn is really unusual, I have to say. I did dozens of interviews to get ready to write this book with him, and I talked to people who worked with him, above him, beneath him, people who liked him, people who despise him, you know, trying to figure out who he was and what he was not. So there is a whole section of Field of Fight that I call ‘growing up Flynn’.

If you want to understand Mike Flynn… and who knows what he is destined for at this point? Trump may win the election. If he wins the election, he may ask General Flynn to do something. General Flynn might say yes, etc. Who knows? But the secret of Flynn is number one, Mama Flynn, and number two, growing up Flynn. He is one of nine children. They lived in a one bathroom house in suburban Rhode Island. And all of the kids had to be out the door at the same time. So I always tell people, you want to know what discipline is all about? That is discipline.

Mama Flynn was well on her way to a college degree when she got pregnant the first time. She was going to Brown. She stopped college, raised nine children, and when the ninth child moved out of the house, she went back to college, got her degree, and got a law degree, so she is an amazing woman and he is an amazing man.

This book will explain to you how and why he and General McChrystal transformed American military intelligence first in Iraq, then in Afghanistan. And when you finish reading it, you will probably ask yourself as I asked myself, and then as I asked him, so how come we are not doing it anymore? And the answer is he was gone. It is all about leadership. People who did not entirely approve of what he was doing stopped it, and that is a big part of the story.

This book argues that we are at war. It is a world war, a global war. It is everywhere. It runs from Pyongyang to Caracas through the Middle East, which we all follow in agonizing detail; Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey to some extent now, across Africa into South America, Venezuela, Honduras, Cuba, which everybody always forgets, by the way. Everybody forgets Cuba, and yet Cuba is a big part of this story.

So anyway, we are fighting against an alliance of radical Muslims and radical secularists. Putin is an enemy of ours and Kim Jong-Un is an enemy of ours. They are not Muslims. They are bad guys and they work with radical Muslims with a common goal of doing us in, but it is very important. Of course, everybody is obsessed with plagiarism from last night, but in Flynn’s speech he said we are fighting radical Muslims and failed tyrants.

And that is what it is. We are allied against these insane Muslim movements and failed tyrannies. Nobody wants to be the new North Korea. The rest of the world does not for a minute think how wonderful it would be if only they had Putin in their country. No. They may admire him for his ruthlessness, they may fear him for his meanness, but they do not really run to the place that he runs, so this is the war we are in.

Now, hardly anybody sees it. Hardly anybody talks about it. There is a lot of talk nowadays about radical Islam and people finally caught up with the censors in the White House and the State Department and the Pentagon, and are beginning to say, ‘radical Islam,’ ‘radical Muslims,’ and so forth, and stop talking about ‘workplace violence’ and other euphemisms for terrorism.

But it is not just that and it is important to keep in mind that it is not just that. The important thing about that, about the radical Muslims, is that they are representatives of failed societies. It is a failed culture. Radical Muslim culture is a failure, and they know it. My favorite factoid identified during the research for this book comes from a study done maybe ten years ago now by a group of Arabs at the United Nations about the Arab world. In there they report that more books have been translated from foreign languages into Spanish in the last year than into Arabic in the last thousand years.

Let me say it again because it sounds impossible: more books in the last year into Spanish than into Arabic in a millennium, in a thousand years, so we are dealing with a whole culture where they do not know anything. All they know is Quran, and all these kids who are raised to be terrorists and fanatics and so forth, what do they do? They sit cross-legged on the ground in these little madrassas, and their imam or their teacher comes by and they memorize the Quran. And if they do not get it right, their teacher raps them with the yardstick. I used to get rapped with a yardstick back in the old days, but that was Massachusetts. That was different.

So these people are desperate and since they do not know, really, how to do any of the things that make a modern society modern, they take it out on us and they hate us, and there is finally, the last part I want to make about them, is that sexual frustration plays a big role, in my opinion, in the creation of radical Muslim terrorists because these madrassas are all boys. There is not a female within sight, and they are segregated by sex, and they go years on end through early adolescence without women, it is all boys, and so they have these endless fantasies and so forth.

It is not surprising that so much of the terrorism is aimed specifically against women, against women who do not dress according to standards. It is not a surprise to me that the Iranians are terrified of women, and insist on women covering their bodies up and covering their heads. You know why they cover their heads, by the way? There is nothing Quranic at all about head garb, nothing. There is no religious requirement, no justification for it all.

The Iranians believe that women’s hair is the source of sexual impulses, and that if left uncovered, from their hair there come these terribly corrupting waves of sexual energy, which ruin the morality of the men. And so, if the men misbehave, it is the women’s fault because she did not cover her hair, because the waves [of sexual energy] were coming out, and that is how it happens. Interesting, huh?

It has no religious standing at all. That is why if you travel around the Muslim world, you see some places where they cover the head, some places where they do not [cover the head].

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