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Jewish World Review Jan. 6, 2004 / 12 Teves, 5764

Michael Ledeen

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Aftershocks: The West must read the meter in Bam and Tehran | The Bam earthquake showed the Western world at its best (rescuers, doctors, money, medicine, and food poured into Iran) and the mullahcracy at its worst (no national leader dared set foot in the disaster zone for four days, and then only when the army and assorted thugs could protect the mullahs against the rage of the locals). When some Americans prepared to leave, they were begged to remain. The Iranians feel safer with us than with their own tyrants.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, recovering from his recent cancer surgery, chose to issue yet another blandishment to the regime, expressing the hope that it might soon be possible to sit down and improve relations. To these words of good will, the so-called reformist president of the Islamic republic, Mohammed Khatami, responded with the back of his moderate hand. There would be no improvement until and unless the United States mended its evil ways, and first the Americans would have to "learn their lesson in Iraq."

For those willing to see what is before our noses, that was a fine description of Iranian intentions. They mean to drive us out of Iraq (and Afghanistan as well) by killing as many Americans (and Iraqis and Afghanis) as they can. Meanwhile, they are spreading their oppression to Iraq itself, and attempting to get their French friends back in business there. In Khadamiyah, for example, Shiites are imposing sharia on the local schools, rounding up tardy students, and forcing the girls to cover their heads. Locals have informed American forces that they believe the Iranians are organizing these gangs. And back in Baghdad, the SCIRI (Iranian-supported Shiite organization) representative on the Iraqi Governing Council has assured the French and the Russians that they will be able to participate in Iraqi reconstruction projects. I have yet to hear Jerry Bremer, who is so quick to jump on any questionable statement from the Iraqi National Council, condemn this shocking embrace of the opponents of the liberation of the country.

Meanwhile, evidence mounts on the true character of the terror network. The Los Angeles Times has detailed the close cooperation between Saddam and his Baathist buddies in Syria, to the consternation of many of our professional diplomats, who have long argued that Syria was our secret ally in the war against terrorism. And we are learning more and more about the covert assistance provided to the mullahs' atomic program by the government of Pakistan. In time, we will be able to document the ways in which Pakistani leaders were paid off by the Iranians and the Saudis in order to give Tehran the ability to nuke Israel.

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All of this makes it more perplexing than ever that serious people like Colin Powell continue to believe that there is some nice way to "solve the Iranian problem." Would that it were so. But, as we are reminded every day by the wonderful dentist in Baghdad who bravely blogs away at, in the words of Jonathan Swift, "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of what he was never reasoned into." The regime in Tehran is not reasonable, it is fanatical. It has waged war against us for a quarter century and it intends to destroy us. It claims to act in the name of all Islam, and views us as the greatest Satanic force on earth. It will not come to terms with us, because its very essence is hatred of us and of everything we represent. Knowing that the vast majority of its own people hate the regime and loves America, it murders, tortures, and oppresses them. When the mullahs appear to be acting reasonably and tell us they wish to help us fight terrorism, it is a deception, not an expression of their real desires.

Yet many of our leaders, fine men and women all, continue to believe that the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan suffice to let us return to diplomacy as usual, even as the entire Western world ties itself in knots to protect against the next assault from the terror masters. Rome is declared off limits to aircraft, along with the Las Vegas strip, the Rose Bowl, Times Square, endless domed stadiums, and major parts of Washington D.C. Western citizens are implored to leave Saudi Arabia. British Airways, Qantas, and all carriers headed for the United States are placing armed guards on their aircraft. No one seriously believes that a threat of such magnitude is generated by the remnants of al Qaeda, operating from a remote border region of Pakistan. It obviously requires the cooperation of powerful regimes and professional intelligence services.

But if that is true, why do we act as if the terror war in Iraq is solely the product of the shattered remnants of Saddam's failed state? What level of violence, how many dead or mutilated Americans, Italians, Poles, Spaniards, Japanese, United Nations and Red Cross workers, are required before we come to grips with the fact that we are engaged in a regional terror war? Did "homeless Saddam" look like the commander of a guerrilla war spreading across a large nation?

Look again at the scenes in Bam. The destruction of that once fabulously beautiful city is a symbol of what the regime has done to Iran, once a wealthy and prosperous and creative country. Look at the many reports on the awful degradation of Iranian society, now leading the region in suicide and teenage prostitution, its standard of living a pitiful shadow of what it was before the Islamic Revolution of 1979, its infrastructure in tatters, its armed forces distrusted by the country's leaders, its students under virtual house arrest, its newspapers and magazines silenced, its talented moviemakers and writers and scientists and artists fleeing to the West whenever they see a crack in the nation's walls. Look at the damning human-rights reports. Read the harsh condemnation of the mullahs' relentless censorship from Reporters sans Frontières," which calls Iran the world's greatest predator of free press. And listen to the cries of the Bam survivors as they ask why this had to happen, why no help arrived until long after the disaster struck, and why the mullahs preferred to see thousands of them die, rather than accept humanitarian assistance from the Jews.

And then ask our leaders what in the world we are waiting for, and why we insist on believing that a regime so demonstrably evil deserves to have good relations with the United States, and why a people so demonstrably on our side, and so demonstrably worthy of freedom, does not deserve our full support.

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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.


12/02/03: Managing Iraq: We can't continue this way
11/26/03: Back to the Angleton Files
11/25/03: The Turks, Italians & us — never again
11/06/03: Regional Struggle: Fighting narrow vision in Iraq
11/04/03: Unpunished Failure: What are we waiting for?
10/21/03: Curses: Diamonds and Naples
10/15/03: Into the Quagmire: Important days ahead for Iran
09/18/03: The Ayatollahs’ bomb: An invulnerability strategy
09/12/03: You can't make peace until the war is won
09/11/03: Ron Paul, dishonorable congressman
09/03/03: The Latest Horrors: Still organized
08/29/03: The Peace Trap: Back to the war, please
08/27/03: Angrier and Angrier: Self-deception, big-time
08/25/03: Iraq's terrorists have friends in high places
07/10/03: The Future of Iran: Armitage might want to rethink that "democracy" line
07/02/03: Looking Toward July 9: Independence Day in Iran?
06/24/03: Iran: Back the freedom fighters
06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
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