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Jewish World Review March 5, 2002 / 21 Adar, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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We can't lose any more ground in Iran -- THE tyrants of Tehran took the "axis of evil" charge very seriously, perhaps because they know better than anyone just how accurate it is. They assumed that when the president of the United States issued the moral equivalent of a declaration of war, he was ready to take serious steps to end their murderous rule, and bring freedom to the Iranian people. So they did what any normal group of paranoid megalomaniacs would do: They intensified the repression. They rounded up 40 leaders of the student movement, and many of their teachers, and slammed them into jail, and subjected them to the usual beatings and tortures. Two teachers are already dead: Ibrahim Ahmadzadeh and Ghassem Zadehmoien, both victims of torture at the hands of the Revolutionary Guards.

These murders reduced by two the spectacular number of prisoners in the Islamic Republic, now more than 600, 000. But Ahmadzadeh and Zadehmoien are notable, because they are the first casualties of our government's embarrassing timidity ever since the president's speech. With the exception of Vice President Cheney, and some pointed remarks from Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, the leaders of this administration have tiptoed around the Iranian question. Secretary of State Powell, for example, continues to say that he would welcome constructive dialogue with the mullahs, especially their designated front man, President Khatami. I have not detected a word of protest about the brutal repression of students and teachers, or the increased censorship, or the frantic destruction of satellite-TV dishes in the major cities.

If this sheepish silence goes on much longer, we risk a terrible consequence: The Iranian people will write off George W. Bush as they wrote off his father and Bill Clinton. They will conclude that the "axis of evil" remark was some sort of trick, or an illusion, or at best a slip of the tongue, not as a prelude to serious American action on their behalf.

We should not let a day go by without reminding the world about the evils of the Iranian regime. We should increase our own broadcasting, and denounce any and all efforts by the mullahs to jam it. We should immediately find financial support for Iranian National TV in Los Angeles, the most potent source of accurate news for the Iranian people (and the subject of a marvelous article in last Sunday'sNew York Times magazine by Michael Lewis), now struggling on the edge of bankruptcy. And we must find ways to get help to the dissidents: money, communications equipment, information.

If we really have a wonderful CIA, as George Tenet claims despite the abundant evidence of its impotence and fecklessness, we should be able to document the long list of hostile actions taken against us and our allies in Afghanistan by Iranian officials and agents (here's a heads-up for Langley: The regime has planned a series of actions in the second half of March), along with the details of the Stalinist crackdown now underway in Iran itself, and bring them to the world's attention. That would at least give heart to the democratic forces inside the country. That way, they would at least know that their suffering is recognized and appreciated.

We want a nonviolent democratic revolution in Iran, led by those brave Iranians who have risked their lives in the streets, and who are now suffering at the hands of their torturers. Silence after the State of the Union means complicity with the torturers. It is clearly not what the president wants, but it is what the inaction of his government is producing.

Faster, please. We're losing ground.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


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