Mir Hossein Mousavi, Soylent Green Movement “Visionary,” and His “Inspirational” Imam, Khomeini
—Mousavi and the Montazeri-Inspired Soylent Green Movement, Epitomize Iran’s Problems, Not Its Solutions
(* apologies to Burt Bacharach/Hal David, and the lovely Dionne Warwick, for their collaborative efforts on “Message to Michael”)
Michael Ledeen closed out 2014 with yet another paean to Mir Hossein Mousavi and the affiliated Iranian “Green Movement.” As is also his wont, this tribute was accompanied, again, by excoriating the Obama Administration for not abiding Ledeen’s wisdom on these matters:
If we had a foreign policy team worthy of us, we’d be supporting the Iranian opposition, but Obama has proven that he prefers Khamenei to Mousavi.
Perseverance is often a virtue, but not, as in Ledeen’s case, when tirelessly advocating—indeed, hectoring—on behalf of demonstrably odious Muslim leaders, who promulgate demonstrably odious Islamic ideologies. Ledeen appears imbued with the same apologetic mindset Bernard Lewis described six decades ago (in his 1954 essay, “Communism and Islam”) when characterizing Muslim apologists for “Islamic democracy”:
Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical—attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the up-rooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, re-state, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West
Examining why Ledeen persists in this woefully misbegotten advocacy campaign is beyond the scope of my assessment. I would only suggest that clues may be found in social psychologist Leon Festinger’s seminal 1957, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Regardless, the focus herein will establish that Ledeen’s assessment of Mousavi, and Grand Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, the designated Shiite religious avatar of what I have dubbed, since 2009 (see here; here; here), the “Soylent” Green Movement, does not withstand the barest scrutiny.
While Mousavi remains Ledeen’s “transformative” Iranian political icon, for Ledeen, the late Ayatollah Montazeri (d. December, 2009) represents the Green Movement’s eternal “spiritual” inspiration. Reuel Marc Gerecht is Ledeen’s Foundation For the Defense of Democracies colleague, and Farsi-familiar rosetta stone on Shiite Iranian culture and politics. Writing in October, 2010, ten months after Montazeri’s death, Gerecht labeled the Ayatollah, simultaneously, “the spiritual father of Iran’s Green Movement,” and the erstwhile “nemesis of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ruler,” whom Gerecht derided (in contrast to Montazeri), as “a very mediocre student of the Sharia.” Earlier, immediately after the announcement of Montazeri’s death at age 87, on December 20, 2009, Ledeen had opined,
Some of us who have long fought against the terrible regime in Tehran were fortunate to have received wise observations from Montazeri over the years, and I am confident that, with the passage of time and the changes that will take place in Iran, scholars will marvel at the international dimensions of the Grand Ayatollah’s understanding and the range of his activities.
These odd, harmonious viewpoints reflect a profoundly flawed, ahistorical mentality which denies the living legacy of Shiite Islamic doctrine and its authentic, oppressive application in Iran, particularly, since the advent of the Safavid theocratic state at the outset of the 16th century. Iran’s Safavid rulers, beginning with Shah Ismail I (r. 1501-1524) formally established Shiite Islam as the state religion, while permitting a clerical hierarchy nearly unlimited control and influence over all aspects of public life. The all-encompassing influence of the Shiite clerical elite, continued for almost four centuries, although interrupted, between 1722-1795 (during a period precipitated by [Sunni] Afghan invasion [starting in 1719], and the subsequent attempt to re-cast Twelver Shiism as simply another Sunni school of Islamic Law, under Nadir Shah), through the later Qajar period (1795-1925), as characterized by E.G. Browne:
The Mujtahids [an eminent, very learned Muslim jurist/scholar who is qualified to interpret the law] and Mulla [a scholar, not of Mujtahid stature] are a great force in Persia and concern themselves with every department of human activity from the minutest detail of personal purification to the largest issues of politics.
A thorough evaluation of Montazeri’s recorded modern opinions—entirely concordant with traditionalist Iranian Shiism during the Safavid-Qajar eras, and since the retrograde Khomeini “revolution,” following Iran’s 20th century dalliance with Western secularism under the Pahlavi Shahs (from 1925-1979)—does not comport with the eulogies of the late Ayatollah by Ledeen, Gerecht, and their ilk.
Montazeri’s copiously documented views—his Shiite Islamic juridical writings, memoirs, interviews, and speeches—reveal, unequivocally, the following:
- Full-throated support for open-ended, aggressive jihad warfare to destroy Israel, fight the U.S., and establish global Islamic suzerainty, and the universal application of Sharia: “Very soon through a billion strong march by all the Muslims of the world, we can liberate beloved Jerusalem, destroy usurping Israel, and place the destiny of Islam and the Muslims in their own hands…The Muslims should clearly recognize the main danger to Islam and the Islamic lands, which is the United States and international Zionism… One cannot fight against the United States and Zionism merely by holding meetings and chanting slogans. The ulema of Islam and all the Muslims should make some serious decisions…There are more than 300 verses in the Koran about jihad, which are unfortunately forgotten, and about 60 books of Islamic jurisprudence are devoted to political issues, economics, judicial matters, punishments, and similar subjects. In view of this it is regrettable that the enemies of Islam and the colonialists succeeded in influencing the thoughts and attitudes of Muslims and of the ulema and Islamic writers and preachers. These enemies took away from them their Islamic character, and said that religion is separate from politics…He [Muhammad] did not sit in a corner and merely pray, although all his prayers would have been answered. On the contrary, he [Muhammad] carried out an uprising and had about 80 military clashes. He [Muhammad] called on the Muslims to arise, and he established a just government and powerfully implemented Allah’s laws, injunctions, and justice among the people…In the Mahdi’s occultation period, jihad is not to be abandoned; even if occultation lasts for a hundred thousand years, Muslims have to defend and fight for the expansion of Islam. Certainly, if in early Islam the goodness was in the sword, in our time the goodness is in artillery, tanks, automatic guns and missiles.”
- Application of an ugly, najis (non-Muslim infidel spiritual and physical “impurity”)-inspired Islamic order within Iran, openly antithetical to Western conceptions of individual liberty, religious freedom (i.e., including advocacy of the death penalty for “blasphemy”), and democracy. The late Professor Sorour Soroudi, and Professor Eliz Sanasarian, have analyzed Montazeri’s views on najis, Sanasarian noting: “Montazeri saw nejasat [najis] in twelve items including blood, dogs, pigs, wine, and kafirs [i.e., primarily, non-Muslims]…A kafir’s body, including hair, nails, and body fluids was to be avoided. The purchase, sale, or receiving of meat and fat from either non-Muslim countries or a kafir were forbidden.” Montazeri further argued that a non-Muslim’s impurity was, “a political order from Islam and must be adhered to by the followers of Islam, and the goal [was] to promote general hatred toward those who are outside Muslim circles.” This “hatred” was to assure that Muslims would not succumb to corrupt, i.e., non-Islamic thoughts. Montazeri also adhered—quite rigorously—to the traditionalist Shiite dogma regarding the offense of “sabb,” or blasphemy, even sanctioning vigilante lethal punishment. He stated, “In cases of sabb al-Nabi [blasphemy against a prophet, in particular Islam’s prophet, Muhammad]…if the witness does not have fear of his or her life and also there is no fear of mischief [mafsadeh] it is obligatory for him or her to kill the insulter.” Montazeri’s Shiite Islamic political Weltanschauung was articulated in his 4 volume treatise on the “Vilayat al-Faqih” [Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists], a key rationale for the post-1979 Iranian Shiite theocracy. These views were aptly summarized by Montazeri’s student, Iranian Sociology Professor Mahmood Davari, in 2005: “According to Montazeri, Islamic rule differs from Western democracy in two matters. While the people in a democratic system are supposedly free to elect any person as their ruler, in a Shi’i society Muslims may not choose any other ruler except a just faqih. In a democratic society, people are free to legislate any law according to their collective wishes, whereas in an Islamic regime the legislation must be in accord with Islamic laws and ordinances. Therefore, according to Montazeri, Islamic rule is essentially different from democracy in the West.”
- Continued (per interviews Montazeri gave in 2003 and 2006) support for Sharia supremacism, sharing the current Iranian regime’s opinion about (and negotiating tactics for procuring) the Islamic Republic’s “right” to pursue “peaceful” nuclear technology, and re-affirming his bigoted, strident opposition to Israel’s existence. [Montazeri]: “You see, if people around the world want to say certain things about women for example being equal to men in matters of inheritance or legal testimony, because these issues pertain to the very letter of the Qur’an, we cannot accept them…in Iran we cannot accept those laws that are against our religion….on certain occasions that these laws contradict the very clear text of the Qur’an, we cannot cooperate.”[Interviewer]: So in future generations, when the number of professors, physicians, high-ranking experts, etc, will be more women, will Islam be able to have an ijtihad and modify these unjust laws because they no longer correspond with reality?”[Montazeri]: Those aspects of the Islamic law that are based on the very letter of the Qur’an, the answer is no…” …“If the U.S. or Europe wants to force Iran to relinquish nuclear energy for peaceful purposes – that is meddling in Iran’s affairs… One of the ways of dealing [with the crisis] is to conduct a diplomatic dialogue…, if America tries to force its power on Iran so as to deprive it of the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, it would be a deceit [sic] – because knowledge and technology are not a monopoly but the right of all people. How can Israel have nuclear energy, and even nuclear weapons, but we, who don’t want [nuclear] weapons – why can’t we have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes?… Israel is a usurper government, that conquered the Palestinians’ lands and made them refugees. If not for Israel, we would have no problem with other countries.”
The practical consequences of Montazeri’s bigoted Shiite Islamic authoritarianism—which Ledeen has chosen to ignore—were highlighted by Iranian Studies Professor Jamsheed Choksy. In an essay (written with Nina Shea), published July 22, 2009, Choksy observed,
Iran’s constitution requires that laws and regulations be based on Islamic criteria, which mandate inferior status for three non-Muslim faiths, while withholding all rights and protections from all other faiths. Zoroastrian, Jewish, and Christian (specifically, Assyrian and Armenian) live in a modern version of dhimmi status — the…subjugated condition of “people of the Book” dating back to medieval times. While these three groups are allotted seats in the legislative assembly (a total of five out of 290 seats), they are barred from seeking high public office in any of the three branches of government….
Non-Muslim communities collectively have diminished to no more than 2 percent of Iran’s 71 million people. Forty years ago, under the Shah, a visitor would have seen a relatively tolerant society. Iran now appears to be in the final stages of religious cleansing. Pervasive discrimination, intimidation, and harassment have prompted non-Muslims to flee in disproportionately high numbers.
Choksy concluded with a reminder especially apposite for those who share Ledeen’s opinions:
Iran’s political dissidents are defended by the West. Its diverse non-Muslim minorities ask why they’ve been forgotten.
And following Montazeri’s death, Choksy made this sobering observation:
[T]he religious minorities in Iran see little theological difference and only a marginal pragmatism among the various Shiite views. Montazeri’s opinion was characterized by one Iranian Christian clergyman as “…rubbing salt into our wounds.” Ultimately, Montazeri’s tolerance of differences, especially religious ones, was far from acceptance.
During an online symposium published October 9, 2012, Ze’ev Maghen, Professor of Persian Language and Islamic History, made this trenchant reference to Montazeri’s alleged “moderation,” in the context of Iran’s dogged quest for nuclear weapons capability:
Now the Jewish state is facing a regime the most moderate elements of which regularly threaten to wipe Israel off the map and repeat citations of the following sort: “His Excellency [the sixth Shi‘ite Imam Ja’far] al-Sadiq affirmed thrice that those who will ultimately exterminate the Jews will be the clerics of [the Iranian Shiite shrine city of] Qom” (cited approvingly in a public forum by supporter of the “Green Movement” Ayatollah Ali Hosayn Montazeri, Memoirs). Now those clerics are enriching uranium at a dizzying pace just outside of Qom at Fordu [Fordow].[Emphases added]
An objective assessment of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s opinions demonstrates his great fidelity to Montazeri’s Weltanschauung. Across the gamut of critical issues—jihadism/Sharia-supremacism, violent anti-Americanism and annihilationist anti-“Zionism” (i.e., Jew-hatred), and (active; see below) support for Iran’s nuclear aspirations—Mousavi’s views mirror those of Montazeri. Pooled materials from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s open source translation office, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, and, primarily, multiple online media accounts that are obtained with relative ease—validate this comparison. Equally unsettling, is the fact that here again, as in the case of Montazeri, Ledeen never acknowledges, let alone concedes the obvious implications, of Mousavi’s well-documented views, and related actions.
During Mousavi’s tenure as Iranian Prime Minister (from 1981-1989), as examples, he made these public statements (captured by the FBIS):
- Islamic Hegemony, Anti-Americanism, Annihilaionist Anti-Israelism (1984-1987). “The experience of the Islamic Republic of Iran is a good experience for the world. We do not think this revolution belongs just to our own country; rather we deem it a momentous movement among the world’s people. If today Islamic forces from all the Islamic countries are waking up, they are indeed bound in unity. If we witness resistance in Lebanon, and if world arrogance and the Arch-Satan [the U.S.] and Zionism are being gradually repulsed, this is because of the existence of Islam.”…“The Iranian nation has successfully initiated a pan-Islamic movement which seeks to involve all Muslims”… “We can in no way return to American culture and our nation will never do so. The people have stood against any move to this end and will continue to stand.”…“The Islamic Republic of Iran at present holds sway over the Persian Gulf because we are defending Islam and the Koran…the superpowers will always be punched in the face by the Muslim nation of Iran. The world is amazed at the Islamic Republic’s abaility of resistance against the world power.”…“The political matter [of] Palestine is the most important in the Muslims world…this Islamic movement, which will be the one to save the Palestinian [Muslim] people and Jerusalem, should be strongly supported [including by] all the military and political moves we feel Islamic governments should make to extirpate Israel as a cancer.”
- Continued Championing of Iranian Theocrats (and Theocracy)—with Ayatollah Khomeini Being the Shining Example—as “Irreplaceable” (1988). “Before the revolution the clergy was in a position to criticize…point out the roots of injustice, difference, and the black roots of colonialism. They would teach the people how to stand up to foreigners and warn of the dangers of Israel and the United States…This put the clergy in position of power and leadership. In that respect the clergy was at the forefront of society’s political forces…In the imam [Khomeini] as the source of goodness for the clergy, we continue to find a voice, a face, a cry that always defends the deprived…it has intensified following the revolution. Why? Because the imam of the ummah [Muslim community] has always looked upon the role of leadership as a means to guide the population and direct the entire system…The greatest goals of the Islamic Revolution are found in the imam’s remarks and his guidance in this respect…The destiny of the clergy in our country and among the entire Islamic ummah is centered over its attention to Islamic justice. This is not a small issue; it is one of our principles. If we want an Islamic government, if an Islamic Government has a priority over other issues, than the indivisible part of the Islamic government is the establishment of justice based upon Islamic criteria. The clergy must be responsible for its establishment and continuation…[W]e find in our imam [Khomeini] of the ummah a model for our clergy and our entire ummah, for caring and awareness of small and large issues concerning the population…He [Khomeini] is not unaware of economic issues, social and political issues…various political movements. In this respect not only do we see the imam [Khomeini] as involved with the issues, but as leader of the movements guiding the population…Relying…on the Koran, on all that they have learned in the history of Islam, the traditions of the Prophet, from the tradition of the Imams, and from the behavior of the past sources of emulation, from within Islamic jurisprudence, form all that they learn…the clergy…must be actively in the forefront. The imam [Khomeini] is a natural leader, he is naturally in the forefront…What we can summarize…from the role of the clergy during the revolution and their role during the past 10 years is that they are irreplaceable source of wealth…[T]here is no reason, God forbid, for diminishing our clergy’s role in our society.”
University of Connecticut Professor Kazem Kazerounian published a trenchant analysis, June 28, 2009, which summarized the ugly legacy of Mousavi’s 8-years as Iran’s Prime Minister, wrought by this toxic animating ideology.
The Bassij force (the motor cyclist hooligans on the streets these days) and the revolutionary guards were formalized and empowered to suppress the people. Peaceful demonstrations were crushed. Mock courts held trials lasting a few minutes followed by executions. Thousands of young teenagers were arrested, tortured and executed for political charges as trivial as possessing a pamphlet. Under Mousavi’s watch a total of 90,000 were executed. Young girls were systematically raped before execution (per a religious decree so their souls would not reach heaven). Numerous faculty and students (under the banner of the Cultural Revolution) were purged from the universities. Repression of religious minorities intensified. Independent newspapers were shut down. Political activists not affiliated with the ruling ayatollahs were arrested in masses. His government even initiated assassination of the opposition figures abroad. Under his watch a destructive and unnecessary war with Iraq was continued. In the fronts underage children were used as “mine sweepers.” Under his government, the regime’s aspirations for regional hegemony and export of terrorism were formalized and action plans masterminded. The founder of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Ali Akbar Mohtashami was his interior minister. Mousavi’s government was directly responsible for the 1983 truck-bombing attacks on the U.S. embassy in Lebanon. His government initiated the Iranian regime’s [pursuit of] the nuclear bomb. The crown of his government’s accomplishments was [the] mass execution of about 30,000 defenseless political prisoners within a few weeks with bodies buried in mass graves. TIME magazine in 1982 described Mousavi as the “most radical in the top leadership” in Iran.
Mousavi’s role in facilitating Iran’s nuclear program merits elaboration. As described in a November 2007 IAEA report, in 1987, then-Prime Minister Mousavi endorsed the decision by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) to acquire centrifuge technology from the A.Q. Khan network. The IAEA obtained a copy of a “confidential communication” between the AEOI and Prime Minister Mousavi, dated March 5, 1987, in which the AEOI President stated that Iran’s activities with the Khan network “should be treated fully confidentially.” Reviewing these events (on June 10, 2009), the non-partisan Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)’s Nuclear Iran project commented, aptly:
Mousavi effectively approved Iran’s use of the black market to pursue its secret gas centrifuge program.
Just over two decades later, Mousavi confirmed his commitment to Iran’s nuclear program in a series of statements reported during his 2009 “reformist” electoral campaign:
April 6, 2009, per the Associated Press: “We have to have the technology…the consequences of giving up the country’s nuclear program would be irreparable…the Iranian people support the nuclear program.”
April 12, 2009, via the Financial Times, “No one in Iran would accept suspension. Progress in nuclear technology and its peaceful use is the right of all countries and nations. This is what we have painfully achieved with our own efforts. No one will retreat.”
On April 27, 2009, to Der Spiegel, “We will not abandon the great achievements of Iranian scientists. I too will not suspend uranium enrichment.” Asked if he would at least consider the outsourcing of uranium enrichment, as proposed by Russia. Mr. Mousavi responded simply, “No.”
On June 12, 2009, to Time Magazine: “we will not accept our country being deprived of the right to [peaceful] nuclear energy.”
Finally, although lauded for his opinions about The Holocaust in the 2009 electoral campaign, closer examination of Mousavi’s actual statements reveals mealy-mouthed, immoral equivalence, at best. The Associated Press quoted these comments made by Mousavi: “Some people were killed there, some Jews were killed there, we condemn the killing of a single innocent person.” Even these tepid remarks were accompanied by Mousavi’s mendacious qualification that “the world should not stand by and watch the killing of Palestinian people by Israel.” Asked by Der Spiegel, “Your president [then Ahmadinejad] has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust happened, and that the Germans killed 6 million Jews. Do you, too?”, Mousavi replied:
It is not a question of the number of people killed. Nor is it a question of who committed the crimes. No matter who was responsible, we condemn them for it. But the issue is this: Why should the Palestinians have to pay for what happened back then in Europe?
Kazem Kazerounian’s 2009 expose on the faux “populist” leader Mousavi, included this additional observation about his wife, Zahra Rahnavard, also championed by Ledeen (see here; here). Author of the “Beauty of Concealment and Concealment of Beauty,” Rahnavard
…was key in enforcing the strict Islamic dress code (Hejab) on women. She had a major role in forming “Gasht-e Khaharan-e Zeinab,” the female street police units that harass women to enforce “Islamic behavior.”
My colleague Diana West (in late June, 2009) found an online English translation of Mrs. Mousavi’s “opus” which extols women’s oppression under the guise of treacly Islamic piety, while expressing virulent anti-Western xenophobia. Rahnavard opines:
…Today most of the young women and girls, who have adopted hejab in toto and have been completely enamored by it, have reached the truth that concealment in entirety is beautiful….At one time they raise the question of inequality of man and woman in Islam, and at another they harp on the issue of hejab, and so on….In fact, however, (under the illuminating and guiding leadership of Imam Khomeini), millions of common womenfolk have returned to their divine nature, to the dignity of their own Self, and under the loving patronage and protection of the Islamic Republic of Iran we are advancing towards preparing the ground for new legislation, so that on the basis of the Islamic laws and precepts suitable laws may be framed for this period of time for the rights and true worth of the womenfolk in order that all the oppressed women of the world may come to realize that the only way of their deliverance is the path of Islam and not the Capitalist, humanist or Communist ideologies, and that the only guarantee for materializing this objective is the Islamic revolution…I have understood Islam. I have upheld hejab, You, bloodsucking Oppressors have lost an anti-people stronghold, namely, the woman of the type you had yourself forged, you had yourself trained, you had yourself taught the ideals, the way of walking, talking, laughing, wishing and longing. Of course you had yourself taught all these things to her…You have now lost such a woman, such a stronghold. How sensitive a stronghold! Hence by the Grace of God and our efforts, this stronghold shall never fall into your hands. Myself and my people, women who form half of the population, and. men who form the other half of the population, have got hold of a stronghold against you and for crushing you. My hejab which is by itself now an Islam personified says that it will crush you. It tells you that it is an avowed enemy of you, the ruling regimes, you the corrupt politicians, you the chosen of the strong, you Pharoahs, Croesuses, imperialists, and (their) stooges. It [my hejab] warns you that in this world you shall be punished by the weak masses and on the Day of Judgement shall be subjected to eternal torture of Hell…With my Islam, my hejab, and my struggle every day I bring closer the death of you, of your class and of your system…
These illuminating extracts make plain that Mrs. Mousavi’s “vision”—like her husband’s—would continue to deprive Iranian women of their liberation from Islam’s oppressive, misogynistic strictures, which they had formerly attained under Pahlavi rule, beginning back on January 7, 1937, thanks to the courageous efforts of true reformers like Sadiqeh Dolatabadi.
Pace Ledeen’s unrelenting, overwrought hyperbole since 2009, a very staid real time (i.e., June 29, 2009) assessment by A. Savyon, Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute’s (MEMRI’s) Iranian Media Project, observed that the Green Movement’s leaders, notably Mousavi himself, were, “not interested in a change of regime in Iran, and have never called to topple Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.” Furthermore, Savyon reported that former Iranian leaders Khatami and Rafsanjani, who operated behind the scenes of the protests, failed “to recruit the support of any senior ayatollah against Khamenei.” Savyon added that Hashemi Rafsanjani, then the second most powerful figure in the regime who headed two of its most important bodies (the Experts Assembly and Expediency Council),
…never purported to lead a movement presenting an alternative to the regime. Despite his blatant disagreements with the Supreme Leader, he hasn’t openly challenged the latter’s decision to accept the election results, though, according to reports, he has sought to recruit senior ayatollahs to join his camp within the regime.
Savyon concluded, “…the protest movement leaders never advocated a regime change in Iran; their campaign is part of a struggle between two streams within the regime.”
Within the past 18-months (i.e., starting July 14, 2013, with this analysis: “Iran’s Presidential Elections – Another Episode In The Years-Long Struggle For The Iranian Leadership between Khamenei and Rafsanjani – Part I”), MEMRI published at least 9 reports updating this quintessentially internal political struggle between Iran’s so-called “pragmatic” and “ideological” camps. Moreover, recent hard polling data have confirmed how this “debate” resides within the closed circle consensus of an Iranian Shiite Muslim population still overwhelmingly committed to Sharia supremacism, and the pursuit of Iran’s nuclear program. After more than three decades of strict re-application of the Sharia in Iran (which has included stoning to death for adultery, execution for homosexuality, abrogation of freedom of conscience and religious minority rights, etc.), and notwithstanding wishful arguments that these phenomena had spawned mass public rejection of Islamic Law, Pew polling data released June 11, 2013 (from face-to-face interviews with 1,522 adults, ages 18 years of age and older), captured a sobering reality. When asked, “Do you favor or oppose the implementation of Sharia law, or Islamic law in our country?”, 83% favored its application. A largely concordant finding demonstrated that only 28% of Iranians were concerned (i.e., 9% “very,” and 19% “somewhat” concerned) about “extremist religious groups” in the nation. Several months earlier, according to Gallup polling data reported February, 2013, almost 2/3 of Iranians were willing to pay the high price of sanctions, designed to deter the country’s nuclear ambitions. Sixty-three (63%) percent claimed that Iran should continue to develop its nuclear program, even given the scale of sanctions imposed on their country because of such efforts.
Michael Ledeen continues to blithely disregard, or ignore altogether, the voluminous public evidence carefully assembled in this presentation. Far worse, Ledeen remains bent on persuading others to promote his ill-informed delusions as the basis for policymaking decisions. Journalist Caroline Glick’s October 10, 2014 essay, “Bringing happiness to Iran,” represents a disturbing example of this phenomenon. Glick uncritically endorsed the counterfactual nonsense espoused by Ledeen, elucidated below, which may have the tragic effect of further delaying requisite, urgent Israeli military action against Iran.
Dr. Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar at the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies has been closely following the Iranian regime since he served in the Reagan administration in the 1980s. In 2009, he argued that even without US assistance, if Israel had been willing to help the Green Movement, with little effort, it could have empowered the opposition sufficiently to overthrow the regime. In a conversation this week, Ledeen said Israel still has the capacity to provide opposition forces the tools they require to overthrow the regime.
Alarmed by this dangerously misguided policy advice, I queried nuclear proliferation expert, Professor Matthew Kroenig (in early November, 2014) about the possibility of imminent Israeli airstrikes. Kroenig’s A Time to Attack argues persuasively about the limitations of such an Israeli campaign, Israel lacking any known capability, for example, to penetrate the deeply embedded fortifications of Iran’s Qom/Fordow uranium enrichment facility. However, given what is truly needed two-years from now, hope against hope—a complete U.S. political and policymaking class “regime change”—I offer Professor Kroenig’s temporizing solution until the U.S. regains its geostrategic and moral bearings:
As a last resort, an Israeli strike, and the year or two of breathing space, at minimum, it would buy, would be preferable to acquiescing to a nuclear Iran.
The American public, regardless of the attitudes of current political leadership and policymaking elites, appears fully cognizant of Iran’s intentions, and the unacceptable security threat posed by an Islamic Republic armed with nuclear weapons. Polling data from a U.S. national sample of 1800 Americans completed Sunday, November 23, 2014, indicated the following:
- 85% of Americans do not believe the Iranians’ assertions that their nuclear program is peaceful
- 81% of Americans do not believe the current government in Iran can be trusted to keep agreements
- 69% of Americans oppose any negotiated agreement leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities
Hope springs eternal such gimlet-eyed Americans will elect equally astute political leaders also endowed with the courage necessary to authorize targeted military strikes which complete a task Israel will have initiated by 2015: destroying, or severely damaging the Islamic Republic of Iran’s current nuclear development facilities, forestalling, and perhaps even preventing long term, a nuclear weapon