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Jewish World Review June 24, 2003 / 24 Sivan, 5763

Michael Ledeen

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Iran: Back the freedom fighters


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Win or lose, democratic revolution has broken out in Iran. Even the fragmentary reports from journalists operating under tight regime control in very limited areas of the country show that the mass demonstrations now involve all classes and regions. This is no longer purely or even primarily a "student" movement, as it has been for the past four years -- although many of its leaders come from student ranks. People of all ages, from all walks of life, in every major city in the country, have taken to the streets every night for more than a week to demand an end to the Islamic Republic and the free election of a secular, democratic government.

For several years, many people have held out hope that the mullahs would be willing to have their absolute powers limited by a process of gradual, evolutionary reform, the symbol of which was the popularly elected president, Mohammad Khatami. But Khatami failed, and has become the Kerensky of the Iranian revolution. His day has passed, and the battle now is between the doubly old regime (both in tenure in office and geriatric status) and the people. The people no longer clamor for reform. They want freedom, now.

I believe we are at the beginning of the end of the mullahcracy that has oppressed and robbed the Iranian people and supported violent terrorists, from Hezbollah to Islamic Jihad, from Hamas to al Qaeda, all over the world. The demonstrators know that if they stop their struggle, they will be killed or tortured for years. The leaders of the regime fear a similar fate -- although I suspect the Iranian people would be delighted simply to be rid of them, without demanding the sort of punishment they deserve -- and are unlikely to go quietly.

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Support for democratic revolution comes naturally to Americans, and we all thrill at the spectacle of brave people challenging corrupt tyrants in the name of freedom. Yet a surprising number of commentators and policymakers are fighting against the prospect of open American support for the Iranian revolutionaries. Their most recent argument is that open approval and, worse still, modest material support from the United States would somehow tarnish the purity of the Iranian uprising and even prove counterproductive.

This sort of argument is not new; we have heard it whenever we have had a president brave enough to speak the truth to tyranny. We were told that it would be counterproductive to denounce the gulag system and support the Soviet dissidents, that the Jackson-Vanik law (linking trade with the Soviet Union to freedom to emigrate for Soviet Jews) would be counterproductive, and that we must at all costs refrain from calling for greater human rights in the People's Republic of China. Yet every time another tyrant falls, his surviving victims invariably tell us that our words of support gave hope and strength to the freedom fighters and weakened the resolve of their oppressors. Bukovsky, Sharansky, Ginsburg, Walesa and Havel know the power of American support, as do Gorbachev, Jaruzelski, Milosevic and Marcos.

Crafty silence is simply another way to appease tyranny, and a tactical retreat in our life-and-death war against the terror masters. Those who are fighting against support for the Iranian revolutionaries have it exactly backward. The silence they advocate would be a demoralizing blow to the Iranian people, and to our democratic soul. President Bush has advanced our interests and our honor by condemning the wicked regime in Tehran and hailing the courage and sacrifice of the Iranian freedom fighters. His critics in and outside the government should be ashamed of their cowardice and betrayal of our best instincts and traditions.

Finally, there is the broader strategic imperative: We are now engaged in a regional struggle in the Middle East, and the Iranian tyrants are the keystone of the terror network. Far more than the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the defeat of the mullahcracy and the triumph of freedom in Tehran would be a truly historic event and an enormous blow to the terrorists.

Morally and strategically, the Iranian people deserve our support. Instead of looking for excuses to appease the terror masters, we should now devote our considerable energies and imagination to hastening the success of the Iranian revolution.


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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.

Up

06/17/03: The Iranian Revolution, 2003: Regime change in the air
06/05/03: Academic Standards: A Middle East scholar has his way with the truth.
05/28/03: The Moment of Truth? U.S. policy could determine Iran's destiny
05/15/03: Iran's Path: Stopping the mullahs in their tracks
05/13/03: The Nuclear Axis of Evil: The people solution
05/08/03: Inside the Dark: Applebaum's ‘Gulag’
05/06/03: Tough Guy: Powell's curious priority list
05/01/03: Desert Shame Redux: Want a free Iran and a free Syria? We have to fight for it
04/25/03: Timing Is Everything: We have a narrow window in Iraq to win Shiite support
04/15/03: Political war can remove terror masters in Syria and Iran
04/07/03: The Others: We have miles to go in eliminating the Axis
04/02/03: French Lies: Take the foreign minister at his word
03/31/03: Why muzzle Saddam's foes?
03/28/03: The post-war terror threat
03/26/03: All Fronts: Military war, political war, psychological war
03/24/03: More Bad News for Daschle: Taking out terror of all nationalities
03/21/03: The Killer Pneu: Virus terror from China
03/13/03: Iran: Nuclear suicide bombers?
03/11/03: A Theory: What if there's method to the Franco-German madness?
03/05/03: The Iranian-Election Revolt: The people speak. The West won't listen
02/19/03: The willful blindness of those who will not see
02/12/03: The Europeans Know More Than They Now Pretend? They choose to dawdle and obstruct
02/03/03: Monumental failure: Nelson Mandela had promise
01/30/03: Elevation: The president knows what it's all about
01/29/03: No Leader: France's Chirac is all about personal interest
01/28/03: The Axis of Evil Redux: Same place, a year later
01/27/03: The Return of the Ayatollah: Washington could afford a little more attention on Iran
01/13/03: How we could lose
01/09/03: Fish are Better than Women: Gauging U.S. priorities
01/07/03: The Shape of Things to Come: The terror masters are now waiting for us
12/20/02: A Prophecy for the New Year --- Faster, please!
12/16/02: Scud Surrender: The "W" factor
12/13/02: The Heart of Darkness: The mullahs make terror possible
12/12/02: The Real War
12/09/02: Tom Friedman's Reformation: His Iran
11/26/02: How Tyrannies Fall: Opportunity time in Iran
11/22/02: The Blind Leading the Blind: The New York Times and the Iranian crisis
11/13/02: The Temperature Rises: We should liberate Iran first --- now
11/05/02: End of the Road: Iran's Mohammed Khatami, on his way out
10/29/02: The Angleton Dialogues, Contnued: What George Tenet doesn’t know
10/24/02: The Iranian Comedy Hour: In the U.S., the silence continues
10/16/02: Sniper, Saboteur, or Sleeper? Channeling James Jesus Angleton
10/01/02: The real foe
09/27/02: The Iranian String Quartet: The mullahs get increasingly nervous
09/25/02: The Dubya Doctrine
09/23/02: Intelligence? What intelligence?
09/12/02: America's revenge: To turn tyrannies into democracies
09/10/02: Iran & Afghanistan & Us: We'll have to deal with the mullahcracy, sooner or later
09/04/02: Iran, according to the Times: All the nonsense that's fit to print
08/21/02: Life and death of Abu Nidal tells us a great deal about our enemies
08/08/02: Can You Keep a Secret?: The media silence on Iran
08/06/02: Fantasy Reporting: The latest disinformation from the Washington Post
08/02/02: Propping Up the Terror Masters: Europe's Solana on tour
07/16/02: Bush vs. the Mullahs: Getting on the side of the Iranian freedom fighters
07/12/02: The State Department Goes Mute: It's official: State has no message
07/09/02: History being made, but the West appears clueless
06/05/02: Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel?
06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen