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Jewish World Review Nov. 6, 2001 /20 Mar-Cheshvan, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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A great revolutionary war is coming -- SUNDAY was the 22nd anniversary of the armed seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, and the ruling mullahs and ayatollahs have always organized mass demonstrations in honor of the great event. This year it was even more important than usual, because it followed two weeks of humongous anti-regime demonstrations, involving millions of ordinary Iranians, who took to the streets to show their hatred for the theocratic regime and to demand democracy and freedom. The mullahcracy accordingly called for monster rallies, complete with the ritual burning of American flags.

It was a dud. Even in Tehran, according to Radio France Internationale, only a few hundred showed up, and many of them were clearly members of the secret police, the Basij, and most of the others were very young children. Once again, the Iranian people thumbed their noses at their tyrants in open defiance of the regime.

The rulers have been acting incoherently of late, sometimes acting with their usual violence (a few days ago, the leading human-rights lawyer in the country was publicly beaten and thrown in prison), sometimes descending into pathetic public whining. The most recent example came on Sunday, when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme ruler himself, publicly denounced all those calling for reform of the Islamic republic, reserving his harshest language for formerly revolutionary students, whom he branded "traitors."

"...The problem with some of our officials is their weak and torpid faith and Islamic thoughts, and their attraction to Western political prescriptions," he told a group of students summoned before him in Esfahan. "Why should some of our officials defend Western liberal democrats?" he demanded. It was the first time he had ever referred to his critics as "liberal democrats," another indication of the depth of concern by Iranian rulers. Their greatest crime, he said, was to "address themselves to the general public and call it modernism," instead of expressing their concerns in "scientific and specialized circles," namely behind closed doors.

Amazingly, Khamenei gave a thumbnail sketch of precisely what has gone wrong inside Iran since the Revolution. "These extremists," he said, apparently having learned from the Clintonites the proper epithets to hurl against political opponents, "who in the beginning of the revolution used to brand us as conciliatory are now on the opposite side, ready to officially apologize to the Americans and the British and roll out the red carpet for Zionist capitalists."

In short, we have it on highly credible authority that the Great Satan is making a comeback in Iran. You should be skeptical when your allies tell you how popular you are, but you can always believe an enemy. Especially when said enemy is showing signs of losing the will to crush his opponents. A few days ago, the leader of the democracy movement of Iranian university students was released from jail after being held for more than two years. He promptly gave a radio interview to a pro-democracy station based in Los Angeles, in which he reiterated his conviction that time was running out on the regime.

The lesson we must learn from these brave Iranian freedom fighters is that Islamic radicalism does not work, and the most devastating weapon we can employ against it is the people of the Middle East. The mullahcracy may or may not fall in the near future, but it is clear to anyone who cares to look — including the Islamic tyrants in Tehran — that it does not work. After 22 years of ceaseless indoctrination, the Iranian people hate radical Islam. They want to be free of it. So when people talk to you about an inevitable "clash of civilizations," remember that there are many clashes, and the one that is taking place within Islamic civilization is gong badly for the radicals.

It follows that we should challenge the Middle East tyrants, secure in the knowledge that our values are truly universal, and the people who today groan under despotism will join with us to achieve democracy and freedom tomorrow. President Bush, tear down those walls! Give your full support to the Iraqi resistance! Stop rewarding the vicious and corrupt tyrants of the Middle East, and embrace the people there. Tell Syria's Assad, Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the Palestinian Authority's Arafat, and all the others, that a great revolutionary war is coming to deposit them on the dust heap of history's failed lies.

Say it publicly, so that their people can hear it. And say it bravely, so that the American people understand the true nature of our struggle.

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


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07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
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07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
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04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
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03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
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12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
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© 2001, Michael Ledeen