A free Iran would most likely become an instant ally in the war against terror, reversing the balance of power in the Middle East in a single, non-violent stroke. Hezbollah would be deprived of its source of money, materiel and guidance, and would shrivel up, awaiting last rites. Al Qaeda, many of whose leaders moved to Iran from Afghanistan in 2002, would be similarly damaged, as would Islamic Jihad and Hamas, two of Tehran’s major clients. And the information from Iranian intelligence files would turn over many rocks in many swamps, all over the world, probably including our shores. ~Michael Ledeen
Give the man credit for one thing: there is no subject that he cannot turn into yet another call for toppling the government in Tehran.
First, an obvious point. Iran has not been at war with us for twenty-seven years. Iran has not been at war with us in my lifetime, which also happens to correspond very closely to the twenty-seven years we have supposedly been at war with Iran. Of course, I understand what Ledeen means when he says this, but by the same token we are still at war with someone or other in Somalia (don’t get him started–he probably agrees!), we are still at war with Hizbullah and we are presumably also in a state of war with Sudan. If you believe these things, you might possibly be convinced that we are at war with Iran. If you are from the other 95% of humanity, you will probably not be convinced. Note that this article allegedly has something to do with the Baker Commission, but veered off early into “faster, please” mode.
Where have we heard all of this business about a free Middle Eastern country becoming an “instant” ally? How is that going? Why does anyone think this will happen in the case of Iran? So an overwhelming majority of Iranians opposes their government–how does that translate into an obviously friendly and pro-American regime after the clerics are overthrown? How does that result in a regime that will not try to develop nuclear weapons? Iranians as a whole believe they have legitimate reasons to develop nuclear energy and the strategic imperative of acquiring nuclear weapons in that region will not go away because a different government is in place. Why is the new, presumably non-clerical regime going to stop supporting Hizbullah? Because only the clerics hate Israel? Right, keep telling yourself that one. Besides, Iranian power and influence are at a generational high–what credible nationalist revolutionary is going to shut down funding to Iran’s chief overseas weapon and means of power projection to satisfy us? Because democrats are nice people who don’t support anti-Israel militias? That’s a good one! Tell it to Hamas. (Yes, Hizbullah costs the Iranians a good deal of money that some people might prefer to spend at home, but national prestige and power projection almost always trump pragmatic uses of national resources in a country with strong nationalist sentiments–just ask the neocons.)
Next, why should we assume that an anti-clerical revolution would succeed? Why should we assume that it would succeed in a “single, non-violent stroke”? There isn’t going to be an Orange Revolution in Tehran, so what is he talking about? I suspect the Revolutionary Guards would have something to say about this, and as we saw in Beijing seventeen years ago a regime that has a military willing to kill civilian protesters in sizeable numbers is a regime that isn’t going anywhere. When Ledeen says we should support “anti-regime groups,” what does that mean? The maniacs from Mujahideen-e-Khalq? If not them, whom would we support, and what makes us think that they have even a remote chance of success?
How can anyone take Ledeen seriously?