November 30, 2004

In the Mail

I've been corresponding a bit with Michael Ledeen of AEI. Here's the text of an E-mail I got from him not too long ago that I think he won't mind me re-printing here:

Dear Greg: Not to worry, I greatly appreciate thoughtful criticism. And obviously I like what you do; otherwise I wouldn't read, let alone post. But I don't think you've really listened to me. Can you please slow down for a sec [ed. note: Isn't it normally "faster, please!" with Michael?]? Now listen up: 1. I have never--never ever ever never--advocated military action against Iran. Nor do I know anyone who does. That whole "criticism" is a total red herring. Faggetit. 2. I am one of very few people who forecast, many months before Operation Iraqi Freedom--the current situation. And on that basis, I was opposed to the military campaign against Iraq. I said we should first demonstrate our political intention (liberation, not occupation) by creating "Free Iraq Zones" in the north and south, and inviting the Iraqi people to abandon Saddam and come live like free men and women. That way we would have gutted the Baathist state. We might even have gotten plenty of defectors. 3. My monotonous call for action against Iran has always been a call for support for democratic revolution. Always. To repeat, NOT NOT NOT military action. 4. People like Pollack don't think it can succeed. I can't imagine why they believe that. When I went into the Reagan Administration in 1981, along with a handful of other Scoop Jackson Democrats, we believed we could bring down the Soviet Union peacefully. Everybody thought we were nuts. Eppur, si muove. We did it, with maybe, what? ten percent of the population willing to take active risks to bring down the regime? In Iran, according to the mullahs' own polls, we've got upwards of SEVENTY percent who hate the regime, and lots of those have showed a willingness to take to the streets and challenge the tyrants. If we had an administration willing to support the president's brave words about spreading freedom, with appropriate policies--support for the farsi language broadcasters, financial help to potential strikers in key sectors, communications devices to people inside, etc. etc. and perhaps some guidance on effective forms of non-violent revolution--I think chances for success are excellent. Ditto for Syria, by the way, but Iran is much more important and much more urgent. I have very little to say about the "peace process," except that I can't imagine why anyone thinks it can work, when for fifty years the smartest people in the world have failed. Bush seems to think that, as freedom spreads in the region, the Palestinians will get a representative government and then it will be possible. Maybe. But for that to happen, the "terror masters" have to be defeated. First. So I think Palestine/Israel is a post-war issue. Defeat the terror masters and you've got a chance. Leave the tyrants in place and it's hopeless. All this is in "The War Against the Terror Masters," written many months before we went into Iraq. Think revolution, comrade, not invasion. I was recently rereading R.R. Palmer's wonderful "The Age of the Democratic Revolution," and kept saying 'wow.'

I'll have more on all this soon. What I did want to say now, however, is that to the extent that I've portrayed Michael Ledeen's Iran position as simply 'bombs away'--ie, full-fledged invasion now--I may have been guilty of some hyperbole and apologize to him and my readers for that. That said, the idea of "free zones" (whether Iraqi or Iranian ones) is a very perilous and slippery slope indeed. I'll address Michael's points soon.

Posted by Gregory at November 30, 2004 12:54 PM
Comments

If we take into consideration the fact that the corrupt United Nations was involved in financially sustaining Saddam's Baathist State it would have been impossible for anyone of goodwill to take Michael Ledeen's approach.

If not for military intervention, United Nations of Genocidal Peace and Justice for Dictators would have continued to thrive under the radar.

Also, Mr. Ledeen seems to have forgotten that ten years of no-fly zones had no effect in leading Iraq towards Democracy. Instead, the no-fly zone ended up costing the lives of American soldiers, innocent Iraqis, as well as, billions of US dollars.

Posted by: syn at November 30, 2004 01:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for posting Ledeen. When reviewing his comments, I was struck by the unilateral approach Michael takes in addressing the "terror masters." For example, all we needed to do in Iraq was set up a Southern and Northern safe zone and invite the Kurds and Shia in. This presumably would not have been an invasion per se, the old push versus pull approach. A liberation and not an occupation Michael offers.

Wrong! What do you call setting up two safe zones in Iraq? Moreover, what would Saddam & Sons have done under such circumstances, simply step aside and let it happen? Hardly.

As for Iran, the same push versus pull theory is applied by Michael. Throw a bunch of psychops at the Iranians and they will revolt on their own, he suggests. Once again, his recommendation is unilateral when, as Rummy suggests, it should be chess not checkers.

Let's kick the can further down the street from where Michael leaves us. So we do big time psychops and the 70 percent of the disenchanted get more words (sounds like a replay of Bush I with the Shia in Iraq by the way), what do the Mullah do? They do as they always have done, kill and maim the dissenters, and continue to tighten the grip.

Terror masters are thugs at heart. We must anticipate better what they will do based upon our initial efforts. Meantime, the clock is ticking. I seriously question Ledeen's suggestion that the Iranian crisis is something we can just talk our way out of by further inciting the masses. For every action there is a more severe action by the Mullahs. We must be prepared for it.

Posted by: Captain America at November 30, 2004 03:30 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah yes, the Tom and Daisy approach ...

a) I've never seen Dr. Ledeen explain how explicit support for Iranian democrats wouldn't marginalize them

b) I expect to agree with Greg's next post about the slippery slope and whatnot.

Posted by: praktike at November 30, 2004 10:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

One more thing for Dr. Ledeen.

You say that "According to the regime itself, upwards of 70 percent of Iranians oppose the regime, want freedom, and look to us for political support."

I don't think that's true; my understanding is that the 70 percent figure refers to people who said they "liked America" or something similar. That they "look to us for political support" is not supported by anything that I've ever seen, so I would like to see some real evidence on that one.

Posted by: praktike at November 30, 2004 11:13 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

" And on that basis, I was opposed to the military campaign against Iraq. I said we should first demonstrate our political intention (liberation, not occupation) by creating "Free Iraq Zones" in the north and south, and inviting the Iraqi people to abandon Saddam and come live like free men and women."

Alas, Saddam, secure in his uninvaded base territory, would have simply sent in terrorists with those refugees and we'd have seen bombings on an even larger scale. And how would half an occupation demonstrate we weren't occupying?

That also doesn't deal with the enormous social and economic disruption in the lives of the refugees. It would not have been like East and West Germany during the Cold War. It would have recreated all the miseries of the Palestinian refugee camps (i.e. Gaza). And soon those refugees would be quite rightly blaming us for their misery.

No, as difficult as it is, what we've done is the best we could do in a difficult situation that would have grown far worse. France, ever in the wrong, was already pushing to remove sanctions and that would have opened the door to a nuclear-equipped Saddam in a few short years. Would we have invaded circa 2007, if invasion meant a nuke on Tel Avi?

Posted by: Mike Perry at December 1, 2004 02:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Support for my concerns. Still waiting for evidence from the good doctor.

Posted by: praktike at December 1, 2004 06:26 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Buy your robosapien in time for Christmas. Don't miss out.

Posted by: robosapien at December 13, 2004 10:18 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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