Friday, August 19, 2016

                               Notes from the Bomb Squad:                                A Review of Michael A. Ledeen’s The Iranian Time Bomb

  by Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker
                                                                                                                                               Intellectual Conservative, 29 January 2008

The Iranian Time Bomb   by Michael A. Ledeen
published by Truman Talley Books (September 4, 2007)     
Hdbk., 288 pgs.  ISBN-10: 0312376553  ISBN-13: 978-0312376550

Michael A. Ledeen has provided a service to those that would resist the world’s godfather of terrorism — the Islamic Republic of Iran — as it attempts to expand its influence and powers through the acquisition of nuclear arms. In a text of 278 pages, divided into an introduction, four chapters, and an epilogue, Ledeen sets out the case for a stronger response on our part to Iran’s twenty-nine years of war against the United States and our allies. It should be stated clearly from the outset that Ledeen does not advocate a military attack, noting that such a “solution” has many drawbacks and pitfalls. So, what is it that Ledeen advocates? Before answering that question, let me briefly outline his major concerns and arguments.

Ledeen’s very first sentence sets forth his basic concern: “The Iranian Time Bomb tells the story of the terror war waged against the Western world by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the West’s failure to respond effectively.”1 His “Introduction” presents an overview of the history of Iranian policies toward the United States and the West from the fall of the Shah until the present. Noting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fanatical hatred of the West, Ledeen reviews how Khomeini sidelined the democratic movement that toppled the Shah in 1978-79 and quickly bent it to his purpose of creating an Islamic republic. Within months of the Shah’s removal, Iran had been transformed from a forward-looking state into one retreating to the seventh century and its medieval mind-frame: women lost all rights, ethnic and religious minorities were suppressed, political opposition was banned, Islamic religious law (shari‘ah) installed, and anything that smacked of Western influence, excised. All resistance to Khomeini’s exclusive Velayat-e Faqih (rule of the jurisprudent) was destroyed through widespread imprisonment and execution. Not content with ruling Iran, Khomeini began to preach the export of his Islamic revolution, and through the use of terrorism, to convert the Middle East, and ultimately the world, to his totalitarian brand of Islamic fascism.

Amazingly, as Ledeen indicates, the response to Khomeini’s jihad on the West was to attempt to find a diplomatic solution — a big enough carrot — with which to bribe Iran into a more amicable relationship. For twenty-nine years the U.S. Department of State and every president from Carter to G.W. Bush have followed the same policy of diplomacy (aka appeasement) in our relations with the Islamic Republic. That such a policy is still in favor is amazing, given the fact that Iran’s hand in terrorist attacks on this country has been a regular occurrence since 1979. A short list of Iranian sponsored/assisted attacks on America and Americans would include the following: the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the holding of its personnel as hostages for 444 days, the 1983 attack on the American Embassy in Beirut and the destruction of the Marine barracks in Beirut, resulting in the death of 243 Marines, the 1987 attack on a U.S. frigate in the Persian Gulf, the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, resulting in 19 U.S. military fatalities, the support, training, assistance, and safe-haven given to al-Qaeda before and after 9/11, and the continual support, training, and supplying of anti-American forces, both Sunni and Shiite in Iraq, as well as the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Ledeen’s four chapters are entitled: 1-“The Torture Masters”, 2-“The Iranian War Plan”, 3-“The American Response”, and 4-“How to Win.” In the first chapter he shows how Khomeini and his successor, Ali Khamenei, have destroyed Iranian society, and managed to turn the vast majority of Iranians against the regime. In his second chapter, Ledeen demonstrates how the Islamic Republic has waged a continuous war on the West, most often using proxies that it has trained and supplied through its theological army, the Pasdaran, aka the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Among such proxy groups are Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad, and more recently, al-Qaeda in Iraq and Hamas. In the third chapter, Ledeen catalogues the sad, anemic response that our government has presented to Iran’s attacks on our citizens. In the fourth chapter, Ledeen begins to set out his recommendations as how to win the war against Islamic Iran’s terror machine.

Ledeen looks at the successful destruction of the Soviet Union through a non-military intervention model as the paradigm to apply in our war with the mullah regime of Iran. He suggests that necessary components include giving genuine hope to the Iranian people, supplying them with the means to acquire information as to news within their own country, and providing material support to those that need help in resisting the regime. He notes that objections to these methods are made by honest, serious analysts, but suggests that if we are to win the war against Islamofascist terrorism, we need to have confidence in our success and commit ourselves to the hard choices that are required for us to succeed.

Ledeen’s epilogue takes note of the beginnings of a successful turnaround in Iraq, as the book was getting ready for publication, roughly six months ago. Indeed, the last half year of General David Petraeus’ “Surge” strategy has produced dramatic results in Iraq, and the late October decision to place Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations has signaled that G.W. Bush just might possess more cojones than any prior occupant of the Oval Office of the last three decades.

Ledeen’s book has received several less than complimentary reviews, especially that of the New York Times, as reviewed by Peter Beinart.2 However, one must examine the reviewer before accepting his/her judgments. In this case, we have Peter Beinart, who is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a bastion of those who advocate diplomacy (virtually at all costs), the same group that invited Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address them in 2006.3 Beinart criticizes Ledeen for seeing Tehran’s hand in so many of the terror incidents of the last three decades. Beinart follows the old school dictum that says that Sunnis and Shiites can never cooperate, given their hatred of each other. Obviously Beinart didn’t bother to review the mountains of evidence that have been produced by our troops in Iraq, as well as members and supporters of the Iranian resistance movement, that serve to disprove the old school’s dictum.4 It appears that Beinart overlooked the connections between the IRGC and Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi as well as the lengthy history of Iranian links with and support of al-Qaeda noted by the 911 Commission and others.5

Beinart also criticizes Ledeen for supporting regime change, quoting both New York Times editor Laura Secor and Iranian “dissident” Akbar Ganji, who suggest that Iranian dissidents don’t want American support, viewing it as the kiss of death to their legitimacy. However, as Ledeen points out, Ganji’s politics are suspect; did he cut a deal with the regime to achieve his current release from prison? If Beinart’s source had been Ahmed Batemi, it would carry a lot more weight as the voice of a genuine dissident. Secor’s sources are similarly suspect; I seriously doubt that she spoke with any of the inmates of Evin Prison’s political section.

Beinart also suggests that Ledeen fails to recognize that a democratic Iran would want nuclear weapons as well. Such an argument is irrelevant as a democratic Iran would not be involved in projecting Islamo-fascism throughout the Middle East and beyond. By definition, a democratic Iran (not one with ersatz rigged elections) would be the antithesis of the current Islamic regime.

The area in which I find fault with Ledeen’s work is his failure to discuss the major Iranian opposition groups and their work to oppose the mullah regime. Whether or not he agrees with them (I suspect that he doesn’t), it is strange that Ledeen doesn’t discuss the work of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its major coalition member, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) which has been fighting the Islamofascism of the mullah regime since its inception in 1979. Although Ledeen’s sympathies may lie with others, any careful student of modern Iranian politics can’t help but realize that the regime looks upon the MEK and the NCRI as its primary political enemies and that it has spent, and continues to spend, an inordinate amount of money and time attacking these organizations and attempting to assassinate their leaders. Given the fact that the mullah regime’s media attacks the NCRI and MEK 350% more than all other opposition groups combined,6 any serious discussion of efforts to accomplish regime change in Iran ought to involve these groups. So too, if numbers have any significance (something of importance in democratic societies), the NCRI has demonstrated its popularity with the Iranian diaspora in a way that dwarfs all the competition.7 That fact should not be forgotten. And for what it's worth, as regards Beinart’s concern that a democratic Iran would want nuclear weapons, Ms. Maryam Rajavi, leader of the NCRI, declared several years ago that a democratic Iran, if led by the NCRI, would be nuclear weapons free.8

In conclusion, while I regret that Ledeen didn’t choose to identify the major leading groups of the Iranian opposition movement, I believe that he has done a service to those that would resist and overturn the tyrannical mullah regime in Tehran. Certainly his point that the State Department and the White House have shown timidity in dealing with Iranian threats for far too long should serve to wake us out of the political stupor that we have demonstrated for the past three decades vis-√†-vis Iran and the mullahs’ role in attacks on this country as well as in international terrorism.

The weak-kneed diplomatic efforts that the U.S. and the West have demonstrated for the past three decades have only served to embolden the mullah regime. Military solutions (war) are available if all else fails, but we have done nothing of substance to assist the Iranian people to solve the problem themselves by their rising up and overturning the tyrannical mullah regime. Michael Ledeen has put the subject squarely on the table. It is time for our government and its allies around the world to accept this idea, to listen carefully to the voice of the Iranian people, and to assist the Iranian opposition in fulfilling its mission of bringing Iran a government that serves its people and is at peace with its neighbors and the world. Should we fail to heed Dr. Ledeen’s warnings and suggestions, the price we will need to pay will stagger the imagination.

Professor Rabbi Daniel M. Zucker is founder and Chairman of the Board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching our elected officials and the public of the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism and the need to establish genuine democratic institutions in the Middle-East as an antidote to the venom of such fundamentalism. The organization’s web site can be accessed at www.adme.ws . Additional articles by Rabbi Zucker are available at http://middle-eastanalysis-commentary.blogspot.com

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Endnotes:

1.) Ledeen, Michael A., The Iranian Time Bomb, Truman Talley Books, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2007, p. 1.
2.) Beinart, Peter, “Enemies List: Tic, Tic, Boom”, (Sunday Book Review), The New York Times, September 9, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/09/books/review/Beinart-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin .
4.) See the following and review the footnotes:  Zucker, Daniel M., “Dangerous Illusions”,FrontPageMagazine.com, May 31, 2007,http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID={508BB615-7CEB-411E-9B83-4BAA80562848},  Zucker, “Dealing with the Iranian Threat in Iraq”, Omedia.com, June 14, 2007,http://www.omedia.org/Show_Article.asp?DynamicContentID=2373&MenuID=722&ThreadID=1014010, and Zucker, “Iraq IS a Proxy War with Iran”, International Analyst Network, July 17, 2007,http://www.analyst-network.com/article.php?art_id=350.
5.) Kathleen Ridolfo, “Iraq/Iran: Has Tehran Crossed the Line?”, Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty, March 13, 2006, http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/03/ea014483-48dc-495f-9bad-ebfa1f3b392d.html, See also: Matthew Levitt, “Iranian State Sponsorship of Terror: Threatening U.S. Security, Global Stability, and Regional Peace”, (Policy Watch #964), The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, February 23, 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2263, and his full report at: http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/archives/109/Lev021605.pdf.
6.) See Figure 2: “Number of Times Iranian Regime Media Mentions Iranian Opposition Groups” (p. 41) and section “Regime Statements and Opposition Groups” (pp. 39-46) in: Iran Policy Committee, A White Paper: Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy: U.S. Policy and the Iranian Opposition, IPC, Washington, DC, 2006.
8.) From the NCRI Charter: International Relations: The council’s foreign policy is based on independence, respect for the United Nations Charter and international conventions and treaties, good neighborliness, international and regional cooperation and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The NCRI supports the Middle East peace process and is committed to maintaining and protecting peace and tranquility in the region and condemns any aggression and expansionism. The council opposes nuclear proliferation and the production of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. http://www.ncr-iran.org/content/view/27/158/.

(NOTE: Some of the web-sites cited above are no longer functional; however, all of the articles of Rabbi Zucker are available at:  http://middle-eastanalysis-commentary.blogspot.com. )


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