Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Ledeen on Iran

The one guy I know of who has really been following Iran all along is Michael Ledeen and his column for Pajamas Media has some very interesting thoughts. Read the whole thing, of course, but here are a few observations that strike me as correct.

What’s going to happen?, you ask. Nobody knows, even the major actors. The regime has the guns, and the opposition has the numbers. The question is whether the numbers can be successfully organized into a disciplined force that demands the downfall of the regime. Yes, I know that there have been calls for a new election, or a runoff between Mousavi and Ahmadinezhad. But I don’t think that’s very likely now. The tens of millions of Iranians whose pent-up rage has driven them to risk life and limb against their oppressors are not likely to settle for a mere change in personnel at this point. And the mullahs surely know that if they lose, many of them will face a very nasty and very brief future.

I agree with that. If the mullahs lose control, it's Ceaucescu time for them all. Here's something else that Ledeen says that is especially intriguing. Cherchez la femme:

Does Mousavi even want to change the system? I think he does, and in any event, I think that’s the wrong question. He is not a revolutionary leader, he is a leader who has been made into a revolutionary by a movement that grew up around him. The real revolutionary is his wife, Zahra Rahnavard. And the real question, the key question in all of this, is: why did Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei permit her to become such a charismatic figure? How could he have made such a colossal blunder? It should have been obvious that the very existence of such a woman threatened the dark heart of the Islamic Republic, based as it is on the disgusting misogyny of its founder, the Ayatollah Khomeini.

There have been numerous reports coming out of Iran that the muscle the mullahs have using are hired guns, especially members of Hezbollah. Ledeen:

The young Islamic revolutionaries of the late 1970s are now middle aged, and do not wish to slaughter their neighbors. That is why the mullahs have imported killers from abroad: the five thousand or so Hezbollahis who, according to Der Spiegel, have been brought in from Lebanon and Syria. Dissidents on Twitter report clashes with security forces who do not speak Farsi, and there are even some rumors suggesting that Chavez has sent some of his toughs from Venezuela. Who knows?

That might be the key. The Hezbollahi will fight like hell, because they rely on the patronage of the Iranian regime and if they lose that, they will be in a lot of trouble back in Lebanon and elsewhere. But I strongly doubt that the regime will continue to survive, fighting back a sea of millions, with only 5,000 trained killers. That is why time may be on the side of those desiring freedom from the tyranny that Khomeini and the rest of the mullahs imposed some 30 years ago.

One last thing: up to this point, President Obama's response has been pretty cautious and muted. He's come in for some criticism for that, but I'm not going to join in that criticism. We don't have a lot of levers in Iran right now. Sometimes playing it cool is the right approach. This might be one of those times.


Anonymous said...

Ledeen is one of the guys that has been covering this story solidly for a couple of weeks. He is spot on. I totally agree with you that the worst thing we could do right now is take sides.

BTW, I am sending a link to an article by Laura Secor at the New Yorker. It's excellent. I think she really nails the predicament that Khameini finds himself in.


It's really amazing to see most of the country lining up behind the same cause. Something we haven't seen in quite a while.


Mark Heuring said...

Thanks for the link, Rich. I'll read that later tonight.

It's really amazing to see most of the country lining up behind the same cause. Something we haven't seen in quite a while.

Well, freedom is one thing that everyone should be able to get behind.

As for taking sides -- I agree there's no point in taking sides with the political players in the Iranian kabuki. The only side we should take is that of the Iranian people generally, that we support their right to self-determination. A right I support everywhere, as I suspect you do, too.