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Jewish World Review Feb.15, 2005 / 6 Adar I, 5765

Michael Ledeen

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http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Has there ever been a more dramatic moment than this one? The Middle East is boiling, as the failed tyrants scramble to come to terms with the political tsunami unleashed on Afghanistan and Iraq. The power of democratic revolution can be seen in every country in the region. Even the Saudi royal family has had to stage a farcical "election." But this first halting step has fooled no one. Only males could vote, no political parties were permitted, and only the Wahhabi establishment was permitted to organize. The results will not satisfy any serious person. As Iraq constitutes a new, representative government and wave after wave of elections sweep through the region, even the Saudis will have to submit to the freely expressed desires of their people.

The tidal wave has even reached into the planet's darkest corners, most recently shaking the foundations of the North Korean hermit kingdom. A new leader is announced at the same time the monsters in Pyongyang whisper "We've got nukes" and demand legitimacy from George W. Bush. Given the opacity of the country, and the irrationality of its leaders, nobody seems to know whether the Dear Leader is still alive, or, if he is, why the transition has been proclaimed. But the North Koreans, as tyrants everywhere on the planet, are acting like a regime no longer confident in its own legitimacy. Notice that the world's longest-running dictator, old man Castro, is conjuring up the illusion of American assassination teams planning the murder of his buddy in Venezuela, even as Fidel promises death to anyone who has the nerve to propose popular validation of his own failed tyranny. Such is the drama of our time.

Free elections do not solve all problems. The fascist tyrants of the last century were enormously popular, and won huge electoral victories; Stalin was truly loved by millions of oppressed Soviets; and fanatics might win an election today in some unhappy lands. But this is a revolutionary moment, we are unexpectedly blessed with a revolutionary president, and very few peoples will freely support a new dictatorship, even one that claims Divine Right.

But the wheel turns, as ever. Such moments are transient, and if they are not seized, they will pass, leaving the bitter aftertaste of failure in dry mouths and throttled throats. The world looks to us for more action, not just brave words, and we must understand both the quality of this moment and the revolutionary strategy we need to adopt to ensure that the revolution succeeds. Above all, we must applaud those who got it right, starting with the president, and discard the advice of those who got it wrong, including some of our "professional experts."

The two great elections of recent months were held in Iraq and Ukraine. In both cases, the conventional wisdom was wrong. The conventional wisdom embraced the elitist notion that neither the Ukrainians nor the Iraqis were "ready" for democracy, because they lacked one or another component of the so-called requirements for a free society. Their alleged limitations ranged from historical tradition and internal conflicts to a lack of education and culture and insufficient internal "stability." How I hate the word stability! Is it not the antithesis of everything we stand for? We are the embodiment of revolutionary change, at home and abroad. Most of the time, those who deplore a lack of stability are in reality apologizing for dictators, and selling out great masses of people who wish to be free. And even as those un-American apologists invoke stability, we, as the incarnation of democratic capitalism, are unleashing creative destruction in all directions, sending once-great corporations to history's garbage heap, voting once-glorious leaders into early retirement, and inspiring people everywhere to seek their own happiness by asserting their right to be free.

The Ukrainians are now in control, but the Iraqis still have to contend with the discredited meddlers and schemers who never believed in their democracy, and still seek to place failed puppets in positions of power in Baghdad. Anyone who reads the dozens of blogs from Iraq— which express a wide range of political opinion— must surely see that the Allawi interregnum has failed. The results of the election speak clearly: The Allawi list was outvoted five to one by its major opponents, even though Allawi commanded a treasure chest vastly greater than that of the others. Ambassador Negroponte, Secretary of State Rice, and DCI Goss should tell their "experts" to admit error, and cease their efforts to install a president and prime minister who reflect the consensus of Foggy Bottom rather than the will of the Iraqi people. If they persist in attempting to dictate the makeup of the new Iraqi government, and continue to meddle in the drafting of the new Iraqi constitution, they will turn the majority of Iraqis against us. Despite countless errors of judgment and commission, we have, for the moment at least, won a glorious victory. We should be smart enough, and modest enough, to accept it.

This glorious victory is due in large part to the truly heroic performance of our armed forces, most recently in that great turning point, the battle of Fallujah. Our victory in Fallujah has had enormous consequences, first of all because the information we gathered there has made it possible to capture or kill considerable numbers of terrorists and their leaders. It also sent a chill through the spinal column of the terror network, because it exposed the lie at the heart of their global recruitment campaign.

As captured terrorists have told the region on Iraqi television and radio, they signed up for jihad because they had been told that the anti-American crusade in Iraq was a great success, and they wanted to participate in the slaughter of the Jews, crusaders, and infidels. But when they got to Iraq— and discovered that the terrorist leaders immediately confiscated their travel documents so that they could not escape their terrible destiny— they saw that the opposite was true. The slaughter— of which Fallujah was the inescapable proof— was that of the jihadists at the hands of the joint coalition and Iraqi forces.

Thirdly, the brilliant maneuvers of the Army and Marine forces in Fallujah produced strategic surprise. The terrorists expected an attack from the south, and when we suddenly smashed into the heart of the city from the north, they panicked and ran, leaving behind a treasure trove of information, subsequently augmented by newly cooperative would-be martyrs. Above all, the intelligence from Fallujah— and I have this from military people recently returned from the city— documented in enormous detail the massive involvement of the governments of Syria and Iran in the terror war in Iraq. And the high proportion of Saudi "recruits" among the jihadists leaves little doubt that the folks in Riyadh are, at a minimum, not doing much to stop the flow of fanatical Wahhabis from the south.

Thus, the great force of the democratic revolution is now in collision with the firmly rooted tyrannical objects in Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh. In one of history's fine little ironies, the "Arab street," long considered our mortal enemy, now threatens Muslim tyrants, and yearns for support from us. That is our immediate task.

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It would be an error of enormous proportions if, on the verge of a revolutionary transformation of the Middle East, we backed away from this historic mission. It would be doubly tragic if we did it because of one of two possible failures of vision: insisting on focusing on Iraq alone, and viewing military power as the prime element in our revolutionary strategy. Revolution often comes from the barrel of a gun, but not always. Having demonstrated our military might, we must now employ our political artillery against the surviving terror masters. The great political battlefield in the Middle East is, as it has been all along, Iran, the mother of modern terrorism, the creator of Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, and the prime mover of Hamas. When the murderous mullahs fall in Tehran, the terror network will splinter into its component parts, and the jihadist doctrine will be exposed as the embodiment of failed lies and misguided messianism.

The instrument of their destruction is democratic revolution, not war, and the first salvo in the political battle of Iran is national referendum. Let the Iranian people express their desires in the simplest way possible: "Do you want an Islamic republic?" Send Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel to supervise the vote. Let the contending parties compete openly and freely, let newspapers publish, let radios and televisions broadcast, fully supported by the free nations. If the mullahs accept this gauntlet, I have every confidence that Iran will be on the path to freedom within months. If, fearing a massive rejection from their own people, the tyrants of Tehran reject a free referendum and reassert their repression, and then the free nations will know it is time to deploy the full panoply of pressure to enable the Iranians to gain their freedom.

The time is now. Faster, please.


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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.

Up

02/02/05: The Vision Thing
01/26/05: Hersh Predux
01/24/05: The Hersh File
01/11/05: Circle Squared: Iran, Iraq, Syria
01/07/05: Not-So Great Debate: Torture and the war
12/31/04: Journalists at war
12/24/04: Values and Interests: The “insurgency” and the future of the Middle East
12/03/04: The End of the Left’s History: The world has moved on
11/30/04: Europe’s Ritual Dance: The Western counterpart of Iran’s deception
11/18/04: Porter’s Purge: What spymasters? 10/10/04: The War Cabinet: President Bush needs to reshape his top structure
10/08/04: Guardian Angels: Once again, our enemies save America
10/06/04: Iran, when? The war on terror cannot be won without addressing Iran
09/28/04: Know Thine Enemy: The beheadings are about them, not us

09/27/04: Iran, Impossible? Nope. The mullahs will go the way of the Evil Empire
09/21/04: Iranian Tales: An evil regime
09/01/04: An improbable molehunt
08/17/04: The Terror Masters Revisited: Let’s go to the videotape
08/16/04: The Iran-Iraq War, Again: Listen to the Iraqis (And, faster please)
08/11/04: Intelligence and Imagination: The only real 'fix' is good leadership and accountability
07/27/04: The Nature of the Enemy: Win first. Hearts and minds will come
07/26/04: The 9/11 Vision: Better, but not there yet
07/20/04: Are you sitting down? Iran is a terrorist state
07/13/04: The Great Intelligence Committee Report: Some mysteries remain unsolved
06/30/04: The Fears of the Terror Masters: If we want a peaceful Iraq we will have to confront the mullahs
06/29/04: The Iraqis and the Neocons: Arab democracy is a work in progress
06/23/04: Ready for $60-a-Barrel Oil?: The Iranian election strategy at work
06/15/04: Iran is making trouble, and finessing it is a dangerous strategy
06/02/04: Reagan Seen Plain: He changed the world 06/02/04: Quattrocchi's Killers: We are dealing with a truly international terror network
05/25/04: The Agency Rides Again: Angleton on Chalabi
05/24/04: Lying into the mirror: Misunderstaning the war on terror
05/18/04: Kristof’s Iran
04/19/04: The Iranian Hand: Regime change in Tehran is necessary for peace in Iraq
04/15/04: Dealing with the Libyans: Is Khaddafi about to cash out?
04/08/04: From Tyranny to Freedom: Democracy in Iraq has precedent
03/18/04: Drifting, Dangerously: We must support freedom
03/02/04: Once Upon a Spymaster, Part II: Returning to a conversation
02/24/04: The Great Iranian Election Fiasco: What actually happened; what we must do
02/20/04: Stalinist Mullahs: The Iranian regime is in open battle with its own people
02/11/04: The Jihadis' Primal Scream: Zarkawi's "Yaarrrhhh!"
02/04/04: Inelegant Lies: Making sense out of mullahs
02/03/04: Potemkin WMDs? Really?
01/27/04: The Jihad on Iraq: Bad analysis and bad policy
01/20/04: Our Moment of Vainglory: A p.c. mess
01/06/04: Aftershocks: The West must read the meter in Bam and Tehran
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

© 2005, Michael Ledeen