Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review Oct. 6, 2004 / 21 Tishrei, 5765

Michael Ledeen

Ledeen
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


Iran, when? The war on terror cannot be won without addressing Iran


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Months before the liberation of Iraq I wrote that we were about to have our great national debate on the war against the terror masters, and it was going to be the wrong debate. Wrong because it was going to focus obsessively on Iraq, thereby making it impossible to raise the fundamental strategic issues. Alas, that forecast was correct, and we're still stuck in the strategic quagmire we created. Up to our throats. So let's try again to get it right.

Like Afghanistan before it, Iraq is only one theater in a regional war. We were attacked by a network of terrorist organizations supported by several countries, of whom the most important were Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. President Bush's original analysis was correct, as was his strategy: We must not distinguish between the terrorists and their national supporters. Hence we need different strategies for different enemies, but we need to defeat all of them.

Afghanistan was the classic example, because the Taliban regime was at once home to, and sponsor of, al Qaeda. Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, and we responded against the terrorist organization and against the regime that supported it. Once the Taliban had been destroyed, and al Qaeda had been shattered, President Bush launched a political strategy: support the creation of a free Afghanistan, implant the basic institutions of democratic civil society, work toward free elections so that Afghans could freely govern themselves.

Call it democratic revolution.

That was supposed to be the model for the rest of the war, and it was the right strategy. Use military force where necessary, against both the terrorists and the sponsoring regimes, and support democratic revolution. The whole region understood that strategy, and you could see the consequences. There were pro-democracy demonstrations, even in the most unexpected places, such as Damascus and Riyadh, where none had been seen in human memory. In Iran, where the democratic opposition had shown its passion for several years, the tempo increased. And all the terror masters, in Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, and Riyadh, trembled, fearing that their moment of power and glory was about to pass.

The president clearly understood both the stakes and the opportunity. The "Axis of Evil" was — and is — very real, as the tyrants of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea knew full well. There is now abundant evidence of the close cooperation among them, and with their Libyan, Syrian and Pakistani friends, ranging from nuclear projects to other weapons of mass destruction, and to vital support (sometimes in tandem, sometimes separately) to the terror network.

The terror masters also knew that their greatest threat came from their own people, who were disgusted at the oppressive and corrupt dictatorships, and who saw the United States as the source of their imminent liberation.


Donate to JWR


Again, the president described the situation well: Time was not on our side, for delay would enable our enemies to regroup and plan for the next challenge. I kept imploring "faster, please," because it was luminously clear that the terror masters were planning for the battle of Iraq. They publicly announced that they would attempt to do in post-liberation Iraq what they had previously accomplished in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s: Use a combination of terror, kidnapping, and political/religious agitation to break our will, drive us out, and expand their own power.

The terror masters could not possibly stand by and permit an easy triumph in Iraq, for that would seal their own doom. For them, the battle of Iraq was an existential conflict, the ultimate zero-sum game. If we won, they died. But, blinded by our obsession with Iraq, we did not see it. For once, the president's intuition failed him. This failure to recognize the enormity of the stakes, and hence the intensity of the coming assault, was heartbreaking, for us and the other members of the Coalition, and for the Iraqi people. It was the ultimate intelligence failure, a pure failure of vision.

Had we seen the war for what it was, we would not have started with Iraq, but with Iran, the mother of modern Islamic terrorism, the creator of Hezbollah, the ally of al Qaeda, the sponsor of Zarqawi, the longtime sponsor of Fatah, and the backbone of Hamas. So clear was Iran's major role in the terror universe that the Department of State, along with the CIA one of the most conflict-averse agencies of the American government, branded the Islamic Republic the world's number one terror sponsor. As it still does.

Moreover, the Islamic Republic was uniquely vulnerable to democratic revolution, for, by the mullahs' own accounting, no less than seventy percent of the Iranian people hated the clerical fascist regime in Tehran, and hundreds of thousands of young Iranians had shown a disposition to challenge their oppressors in the streets of the major cities. Had we supported them then and there, in the immediate aftermath of Afghanistan, when the entire region was swept by political tremors of great magnitude, the evil regime might well have fallen, thereby delivering an enormous blow to the jihadis all over the world. I do not think we would have needed a single bomb or a single bullet.

So be it. God created profoundly fallible creatures on this earth, and human history is mostly the story of error and accident. There are many battles ahead, and we may yet engage on the full battlefield. One thing is certain: There will be no peace in Iraq so long as the terror masters rule in Damascus, Riyadh, and Tehran. Those who attended closed discussions with the Iraqi defense minister a week ago heard a long list of evidence and cries of outrage against the murderous mullahcracy next door, and even though the leaders of the West — sadly including some of our own — continue to pretend that diplomacy may yet settle things in the Middle East, they cannot possibly believe it. This is a fight to the finish, still a zero-sum game.

The main problem remains the failure of vision, never more evident than in the first presidential debate. The president dismissed the question about Iran by talking only about the nuclear "issue," while Senator Kerry, incredibly, restated his belief that the same policy that failed to deter North Korea would somehow work with the Iranians. The president knows who the Iranians are, while the senator is an active appeaser. But neither was inclined to deal with the central issue, which is that the Iranians, the Syrians, and the Saudis are killing our men and women in Iraq, and we are playing defense, which is a sucker's game.

In the past week, the Iranian people have again taken to the streets in every major city in the country. The chatterers pay no heed, because there is only one zero-sum game that interests them, which is the election, and the election is about Iraq, or so they say.

Except that it isn't, really. It's about the war. The real war, the regional war, the war they are waging against us even if we refuse to acknowledge it.

Faster, damnit.


Like this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


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

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

© 2001, Michael Ledeen