June 23, 2004

Some Brass Tacks Common Sense--From Michael Ledeen!

Here and there, I've taken a little pot shot at Michael Ledeen in this blog.

My biggest gripe(s)?

I'm worried about those who, in tiresome fashion, cheerlead the need for a "regional war" (especially when we don't have the resources to conduct one-- even if it were smart policy--which it isn't).

Or those so obsessed with the Iranian angle (the "terror masters", in Ledeen lingo). For Ledeen, the entire apparatus of Middle Eastern terrorism appears run out of a couple offices in downtown Teheran.

Are there no other terror hotbeads? Does Teheran control the Salafists in Algeria? GIA? Abu Sayyaf?

And isn't it a bit much to espy a Caracas-Teheran terror axis (it's not just B.A. and Mexico City!)

Or that a Chalabi-cheerleader can say something like this (seemingly straight-faced and without blushing):

..the refusal of the American government to provide Chalabi with support and protection for the past decade is what drove him to find a modus vivendi with Tehran in the first place.

Pretty rich, huh?

But really, I can live with all that. To each their pet projects, concentrations, world-views.

What really gets me, though, is those who will boisterously talk up fanning student revolts in Iran to overthrow the mullahs.

While I emphatize with reformist students, applaud their courage, and wish them every success in their endeavors-I am, finally, very scared that we get them too excited the cavalry is coming in and then leave them in the lurch.

Because, as we all know, there is no cavalry to send in right now unless we are planning further troop reductions from South Korea or such.

You know, it's easy to sit around Dupont Circle (or your favorite blogging terminal or station) saying/keyboarding: More support for the students! Beam in VOA! Send cash!

But, at the end of the day, if such a movement caught fire, the Mullahs would get very nervous. And likely engage in Tiananmen style crackdowns.

Quite bloody ones, in fact.

And while the student's blood would be getting spilled in the streets of Iran, we could continue attending little conclaves at AEI or hitting the keyboard in Belgravia.

And, finally, I think that is reckless and morally defunct.

Regardless, the students in Iran are smart. They realize that, after their initial euporia/emboldenment resulting from having major U.S. troop deployments to both their West and East, that we are busy on both the East Front (whither UBL? A find that could decide the election) and West Front (security as 'critical enabler' in Iraq). So they are lying low right now.

You know, if things had gone swimmingly in Iraq; perhaps I'd be the first person calling for more robust encouragement of student dissent in Iran.

But we're not there right now. And, of course, students need to attract labor and other societal segments to their camp. Many of Ledeen and ilk's policy prescriptions make it so very easy for the Mullahs to tar the students as traitors and American agents.

But, as the title of this post suggests, I actually have something nice to say about Leeden!

Here's something that Leeden wrote that I can definitely agree with:

First, the matter of the "abuses" of the prisoners. Maybe the temperature of the rhetoric has cooled enough for us to address the most important aspect of the debacle: Torture and abuse are not only wrong and disgusting. They are stupid and counterproductive. A person under torture will provide whatever statements he believes will end the pain. Therefore, the "information" he provides is fundamentally unreliable. He is not responding to questions; 99 percent of the time, he's just trying to figure out what he has to say in order to end his suffering. All those who approved these methods should be fired, above all because they are incompetent to collect intelligence.

Torture, and the belief in its efficacy, are the way our enemies think. And remember that our enemies, the tyrants of the 20th century, and the jihadis we are fighting now, are the representatives of failed cultures. Our greatness derives from the superiority of our culture, and we should, as the sports metaphor goes, stick with what got us here.


Posted by Gregory at June 23, 2004 11:34 PM

I can't say I agree with BD very much, but I do appreciate the fact that at least one other member of our great English-speaking family spells "Teheran" the way it should be spelled!

Posted by: JD at June 24, 2004 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink


I concur with Ledeen's alarm with respect to Iran. A nuclear threat in the hands of terrorist group sponsors and commanders is enough to send alarm bells with me.

As or the resource issue. One should bear in mind that we are at war, that the Mullahs are sending in Iranians to confront Coalation forces, that Iran has actively recruited thousands of suicide bombers with the sole purpose of using their "skills" against Western forces, do I need to mention more? Like detaining 8 Brits, parading them blindfolded before cameras for world view in contravention of the Geneva Convention (yes, this applies outside Gitmo and Abu Ghraib).

Between World War I and World War II the US was resource inhibited and it took a massive scale up under the watchful management of General Pershing. Don't be too surprised if a similar scale up is not soon required for the regional conflict, probably not by choice.

Posted by: Capt America at June 24, 2004 03:11 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

If Iran truly is a threat, and it does seem to be one, it is irrelevant that we not have the capabilities ready at hand. We can get them. We can move troops. We can start a draft. Whatever. But the first step is to create the necessary awareness and resolve. That is what he is doing. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Posted by: Meaty Fly at June 26, 2004 07:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'd say we have the capacity to take Iran with the troops near by.

Holding it might be more difficult. Yet it might prove unnecessary.

Posted by: M. Simon at June 28, 2004 04:01 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

thanks, appreciate the kudo.

On Iran, it is not fair to suggest that I am inciting the students. I am trying to incite my government to support the students and others who have often demonstrated their contempt for the mullahs. And while you are, God knows, quite right to say I have been compulsive/obsessive about Iran of late, this is the view I have always held toward people living under tyranny who wish to be free. We should help them.

That would be my policy even if Iran were not the major sponsor of terrorism--notice that State once again gave the mullahs the blue ribbon--and even if Iran were not building an atomic bomb. That they are both adds urgency to the policy.

Thanks again, I love your blog and welcome the criticism. It's hard to find honest criticism.

Posted by: michael ledeen at June 30, 2004 02:41 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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