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Monthly Archives: January 2007

Passive Voice

January 29th, 2007 - 1:35 pm

Back in the old days, when there were rules for self-expression, Strunk and White taught us: never use the passive voice. I became passive-voice-phobic, which is one of many reasons I nearly burst a vessel when I read the latest on Iran from al-AP’s Jim Krane:

DOHA, Qatar (AP) – Tensions between the United States and Iran have risen to the point where a war could be kicked off by mistake, an outcome that neither Tehran nor Washington wants, U.S. military officials and private analysts say…

“A mistake could be made and you could end up in something that neither side ever really wanted, and suddenly it’s August 1914 all over again,” the U.S. officer said on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the issue. “I really believe neither side wants a fight.”

Passive voice is the perfect grammatical medium for the sort of phony moral equivalence, combined with historical mystification, at which al-AP specializes. Just look at those two little graphs and count the errors and mystifications! “A war could be kicked off by mistake” for example. Passive voice of course, but there is no mention of the fact that Iran has been waging war against us for 28 years, a fact that puts paid to the whole theory that any way between Iran and the United States might well take place by accident. After all “neither side wants a fight…” So how come they’re killing our boys, Jim?

Which brings us to the historical mystification: World War I was an accident (Sarajevo 1914). I know lots of historians have said that, but it’s nonsense. Germany prepared for war, had a clear strategy for it, had well defined objectives, and when they saw a good excuse, went to war. And good excuses aren’t all that hard to find if you really want one.

Rule of the day: whenever you see something in passive voice, be suspicious. Very suspicious.

Iran Puzzles and Prospects

January 25th, 2007 - 8:00 pm

When I try to understand what’s going on in the Islamic Republic, I always try to reason from fundamentals: there is an intense succession struggle under way, the regime has had some serious bad news of late, and the mullahs are clearly very worried about the possibility of an American military attack, focused on the nuclear sites.

The serious bad news begins with the crashing oil prices, which puts a dent in their terrorist and nuclear budget, and worsens–even more–the plight of Iran’s citizens. The bad news continues with the exposure of some of their activities in Iraq, which will apparently get worse for them in coming days. Ambassador Khalilzad has promised details, as I had urged several days ago on this blog. The mullahs don’t like that, they hate sunshine pouring in under their rocks, they like to operate in the shadows, not in public. So they have their problems.

On the other hand, they excel at deception, and it is folly to take events in Tehran at their apparent face value. The attacks on Ahmadi-Nezad, about which so much has been written of late, are certainly “real,” in the sense that people are saying and publishing such things. On the other hand, it seems very manipulative to me. When official newspapers publish critical remarks, that’s fine with the mullahs, but when students demonstrate against him, they get rounded up and thrown in the dungeons. I would be astounded if he were removed, since I believe he represents the regime. I do believe that, facing the problems at hand, they would strain to convince the West that “moderation” is under way again, and that we should ease up on the pressure (such as it is) and “give peace a chance.” That would enable them to plow ahead on their atomic bombs and missiles, push harder for an overthrow of the legitimate government of Lebanon, and organize further attacks on Israel.

That is why I believe that the campaign against Ahmadi-Nezhad is fundamentally deceptive, a disinformation effort aimed at slowing down any serious countermeasures on our part. I’m sure that Iranian diplomats are whispering sweet nothings to our people, and I’m sure that Iranian intelligence officers are telling their Western counterparts to take it easy, things are moving in a good direction, so don’t rock the ark.

It’s always best to reason from first principles and the first of all principles regarding the Islamic Republic is that they declared war on us in 1979 and have waged it ever since. They will make tactical accomodations to changing circumstances, but they cannot abandon the war without abandoning their very essence. Our goal has to be regime change, and I hope that the latest flurry of revelations means that we have understood it at long last.

Live is full of surprises. Firm action against Iran terrorists would be quite a surprise. I really have trouble imagining it. But I would certainly celebrate it.


January 23rd, 2007 - 11:05 pm

wednesday and friday are travel days this week. back online thurs and sat…

State of the Union

January 23rd, 2007 - 11:41 am

It’s probably going to get me thrown out of the pundit union, but I don’t much care what the president says tonight. I don’t think it matters much, one way or the other. We know him, we’ve made up our minds, mostly negatively, it seems.

All that matters now is facts, and the public’s willingness to recognize them, which is increasingly in doubt, alas. I read an article in today’s LA Times that almost totally denied the statements by our military commanders and our intelligence chiefs regarding Iranian support for terrorists in Iraq. I think it requires an act of religious devotion to believe what the LA Times “reporters” say, but I quite agree with them that the evidence should be made public. Indeed, I said so in a recent blog, didn’t I?

Only facts will make a difference at this point, and since this administration has been uniquely inept at explaining its actions–above all, in the war, which is the defining challenge for this generation–the president would do well to concentrate on presenting us with a full picture of the evidence upon which he has based his decisions. And, of course, he must keep trying to win the war itself.

You may remember a few months ago Senator Santorum and Representative Hoekstra called for the declassification of all materials concerning the discovery of WMDs in Iraq. Negroponte hated it, and dribbled out heavily censored versions of a small portion of what they had. So far as I know, nothing more has been released. And of course there has been no hue and cry from the journalistic fraternity. Compare this acquiescence to censorship with the frenzy over the Libby non-event, and you will see media bias at its finest.

And of course you will also see the ineptitude of the administration, and in particular of a president who still, touchingly, apparently believes that the Intelligence Community is actually working for him, rather than for their own policies.

Tony Snow is one of my favorite people, and I think he’s been a big improvement over his predecessors. And the speech writers, including my old and dear friend Bill McGurn, are excellent, as they have been all along. But the key person presently in charge of our ‘public policy’ is Karen Hughes, who by most accounts has failed to accomplish anything of real value from her gilded perch at Foggy Bottom. Like so many in the “compassionate conservative” crowd, she has put her faith in dialogue, trusting that the bright side of Islam will be inspired by expressions of good will from Washington.

Beata lei, as the Italians say, lucky Karen, who lives in a world where fine words and lofty sentiments trump the will to power and the jihadist determination to kill or dominate us all.

I think the president should forget about such language, demand that all relevant information be presented to the public, and let the citizens see the bare facts and debate their meaning. There may yet be a chance–ever the optimist, I am–for such a debate to lead to an understanding that we are in a regional war, and that we cannot possibly win such a war by fighting to defend Iraq alone.

No speech can do that.

The Lies They Tell and Why

January 21st, 2007 - 8:49 pm

Everybody lies sometime or other. Sometimes it’s necessary–it may save a life–and sometimes it’s humane–to ease the anxiety of a sick or wounded person, for example. Machiavelli noted that, in romance, lying is not only part of the game, but even admirable. And lying is part of politics and statecraft, to the point where “what else could he/she say?” is understood by all adults. But it should still be avoided. I remember when a senior figure in Washington (I think it was Moynihan but I can’t swear to it) remarked that “there are two kinds of liars, those who lie because it’s necessary and those who lie because it’s in their nature to lie…”

There’s a third category, the worst of all: those who lie to advance a personal ambition or, in government, a personal or corporate agenda. You wouldn’t believe how often high officials lie to their superiors because they fear the policy consequences of the truth. That includes very high ranking officials, as Bob Woodward demonstrated in his recent book; he has at least three examples of high officials deliberately withholding evidence of Iranian complicity in attacks against Americans in Iraq. Why? Because the evidence documented acts of war by Iran against the United States, and they “knew” the president would react strongly, which they didn’t want.

Scott Johnson recently wrote about one such case in the Weekly Standard. It’s the story of a very big lie, the lie according to which Yasser Arafat was not involved in the ghastly murders of two American diplomats and a Belgian colleague in Sudan in the early seventies. It was a blatant lie, and it’s been repeated by American spokesmen for more than thirty years. Indeed, it was repeated very recently to Scott Johnson by a State Department official–whom he names in the Weekly Standard article–with great conviction and more than a tinge of contempt at Scott’s nerve for continuing to ask about it.

Unlucky! State Department historians published the proof that we had known, right from the beginning, that Arafat had personally authorized the murders. Everyone from Kissinger to the present has either been lied to or has wittingly repeated the old lie.

Why? For two reasons. First, because CIA had made a deal with the PLO, or rather CIA had appeased the PLO. CIA agreed to provide the Palestinian terrorists with intelligence, in exchange for a PLO promise not to kill American diplomats. Second, because Kissinger and the other master strategists of the Nixon Administration wanted to advance a “peace process,” and they had to have PLO compliance for that to have any hope of success, and the American public would never support it if they knew Arafat had ordered the assassination of our diplomats.

Bob Baer, a longtime CIA case officer in the Middle East, had a similar experience. He had lost close friends in the bombing of the American Embassy in Beirut in the early eighties, and every time he tried to find out who had killed them, he ran into a stone wall. He was constantly told that we just did not know. But he persisted, just as Scott Johnson did, and he too arrived at the truth: the bombing of the Embassy had been an act of war by the Iranian regime, using Palestinian terrorists to carry out the actual suicide mission. He too found that “we” had known about it all along, but the truth had been suppressed for two decades.

Why? Because those who controlled the information didn’t want the top policy maker–Ronald Reagan–to know it, since they “knew” he would not let it pass, and they didn’t want trouble with Iran.

I, too, had a similar experience. I helped organize meetings in Rome in December, 2001, with Pentagon Iran experts and knowledgeable Iranians. They provided information about Iranian killers in Afghanistan, whose mission was to kill American soldiers. The information was accurate, and the would-be killers did not accomplish their mission (I hope they were killed, but I am not privy to that information). Shortly thereafter, Secretary of State Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, with the agreement of Director of Central Intelligence Tenet, demanded that all such contacts be terminated. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld gave orders that no Pentagon employee speak to “Iranians” (which prompted one Iranian-American official to ask if conversations with parents were included in the order).

Why? Because they did not want trouble with Iran, and they “knew” that if President Bush had that information, he would not let it pass.

We have now had further examples of this sort of lie. We now know that top American officials have known all along that Iran has been waging war on us in Iraq, but this information has been suppressed.

Why? Because they, too did not want trouble with Iran. Military leaders did not want a two-front war (even though it should have been obvious, even before the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, that we were engaged in a regional war, whatever our wishes were), and the spooks and diplomats convinced themselves that we could cut a deal with the mullahs.

Lots of lying, as you see, but the biggest lie of all is the lie the liars told themselves: the monstrous lie that we can arrive at peace with our enemies without first defeating them.

I am told that we have discovered truly explosive information about the Iranian role in Iraq in the recent raids in Baghdad and Irbil, the raids that led to the arrest of high officers in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. I believe we are all entitled to that information. To be sure, some of it may be “actionable intelligence,” which must be kept secret–even from the New York Times–until we have acted on it. But the American people are entitled to know the big picture, which is the one some of us have been painting for many years: Iran is waging war on us, killing our soldiers, slaughtering Iraqis, enabling Hizbollah in Lebanon, empowering Hamas and Islamic Jihad in their war against Israel.

The American people cannot properly judge our performance in this war unless they know its true dimensions. The president must provide us with that basic truth.

Faster, Please.

A Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into

January 19th, 2007 - 5:29 pm

Rowan Scarborough and Bill Gertz have a regular feature in the Washington Times called “Inside the Ring,” which deals with intelligence, national security, and military matters. Today they have a little item called “Iranian EFPs” that got my heart pounding:

…Iranian paramilitary troops and intelligence agents have been supplying Iraqi Shi’ite insurgents with “explosive-formed projectiles”…EFPs. The shaped charges are designed to penetrate hardened targets by focusing the power of their explosives. They were built for anti-tank missiles and nuclear weapons detonation (my emphasis).

Sen. Ron Wyden…said U.S. military personnel believe “Iran is supplying devices that are now killing our courageous troops.” He asked Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte…(who) responded that the explanation of the Iranian shaped charges is “generally true.”

CIA Director Air Force Gen. Michael V. Hayden also said: “that’s very consistent, senator, with our analysis. We believe that to be true. The EFPs are coming from Iran. They are being used against our forces…and incident for incident cause significantly more casualties than any other improvised explosive devices do, and they are provided to Shi’ite militia. That’s all correct.”

Apparently Senator Wyden didn’t ask the questions I would have asked, namely “how long have you known this? What actions have been recommended to protect our troops against these fiendish weapons and the Iranian paramilitaries and intelligence agents?”

They are not around to answer, so I’ll do it: we have known about this for years, but the Intelligence Community (sic) denied having irrefutable evidence. And the Intelligence Community has exercised a veto on our war-fighting strategy, by slyly arguing that it would be wrong for the administration to go after the Syrians and Iranians until and unless we have proof positive that the terrorists are trained in Syria and Iran (or by Syrians and Iranians) and that the explosive devices are manufactured in Iran and delivered by Iranians.

Since they, and only they, decided when the proof was positive, they prevented us from effectively defending Iraq, or effectively defending our troops. For this, I trust they will be subjected to very high temperatures for a considerable stretch of eternity.

It gets worse: we have not done much of anything offensively, save for going after terrorists we caught en flagrante, placing IEDs or EFPs, or at the other end of detonation wires. We have done some defensive things, like enhancing our surveillance, trying to get better information, making our movements less predictable, getting better armor on our vehicles (although the EFPs can destroy most anything we’ve got). And when, by accident, we captured some Iranian officers or agents, we sent them back across the border.

Senator Wyden does not seem to have been interested in the “why” for this criminal dereliction of duty; he just wanted to establish the facts. That’s really not good enough, but it would be unfair to single him out, and indeed he should be praised for getting our intelligence (sic) czars on the record, which is more than his colleagues have managed lo these many years. But the “why” screams for an answer, which comes in two stages.

Stage One: From the beginning, the war was fettered by a fundamental failure of strategic vision, accompanied by an intellectual conceit. The failure of vision was the insistence that we would fight in Iraq alone, win there, and then move on. This was never possible, even with twice the number of troops, even with rules of engagement that permitted maximum mayhem whenever an American with a gun felt it necessary. It was never possible because it was always a regional war. Just ask our enemies in Baghdad and Tehran. They took it for granted that we would remove Saddam and occupy Iraq, and they planned for the next move. Even before Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced, they were busy organizing the terror war against us, and the numerous possible civil wars among Iraqis (and, in that connection, someone should point out to General Hayden that those terrible explosive devices are also delivered to Sunnis; just look at Anbar Province, which is almost entirely Sunni, and is full of IEDs and EFPs).

It did not require “intelligence services” to know this would happen; Bashir Assad and various mullahs and ayatollahs announced it well in advance, as I and others reported well before any American soldier set foot in Iraq. It did require good intelligence to know the details, but time and time again the “intelligence services” refused to accept information, even from proven sources, that would have permitted us to identify the networks through which the Syrians and Iranians were organizing the misnamed insurgency.

For the most part, the terror war in Iraq is not an insurgency at all; it is an unconventional war waged against us by the terror masters in Iran and Syria and Saudi Arabia. We refused to see it, we deliberately and systematically blinded ourselves to it, and this “we” encompasses them all, president and vice president, national security advisers, secretaries of defense and state and their top aides (can anyone forget the incredible claim from Powell’s Deputy, Richard Armitage–the man who outed Valerie Plame to Robert Novack and then clammed up about it, thereby sending Judy Miller to prison and Scooter Libby to trial–that “Iran is a democracy,” and his public announcement that the Iranians would soon turn over top al Qaeda terrorists to our criminal justice system?), and the Intelligence (sic) Community.

Stage Two: Once blinded, we then dumbed ourselves down in two ways. First (this is the intellectual conceit) by convincing ourselves that the defenestration of Saddam would provoke the fall of other regimes in the region, more or less automatically. We wouldn’t have to do anything, except maybe deliver a few inspiring speeches. Second, confident that time would work in our favor, we embraced the European charade of negotiating with the mullahs over Iran’s nuclear project, when everyone knew it was a hoax and the only result would be to give the Islamic Republic more time to go nuclear. Yes, I know all about “political necessity,” and the “need for allies,” no question. But Machiavelli, as so often, has it absolutely right: “if you are victorious, everyone will judge your methods to have been appropriate.” And if you lose, you’re a bum, no matter how diligently you flattered foreign leaders, no matter how often you went to the United Nations, no matter how bipartisan you seemed to the opposition in Washington. It’s all about winning and losing, and there is no sign–I say this gnashing my teeth and heart pounding–there is no sign that our leaders understand that. It is hard to convince me otherwise, after all the brave speeches, all the tough talk, and the brief spasms of action–such as the arrests of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers in Baghdad and Irbil–only to have the president’s words deconstructed and gainsayed by his own people.

Go back and reread Negroponte and Hayden. They swear that the Iranians are killing our troops. They could say similar things about the Syrians. What excuse does this president have for his refusal to go after the regimes in Tehran and Syria? How can he permit his top cabinet officers to reassure craven appeasers like Joe Biden and Richard Lugar that we will certainly not enter Iranian or Syrian territory to destroy the IED/EFP assembly lines, or to blow up their terrorist training camps? He continues to give our enemies a free shot at us in Iraq, risking nothing of their own territory. And he tolerates voices in his administration who want to run away from even this little token response; they want to send even these Iranian killers back home, when they should be sent to Guantanamo.

There are several ways to describe this state of affairs, none of them flattering. I’ll settle for “immoral.”

This president–and you can add in the secretary of state, the national security adviser, and the former secretary of defense–bravely and correctly said that our greatest weapon against the terror masters is freedom, and that the best way to defeat them is to spread freedom. Bravo! But then they betrayed freedom throughout the region, briefly speaking out to Egyptians and Libyans, only to abandon those countries’ most eloquent freedom fighters. They betrayed the Iranian people by refusing to support revolution and shrinking from even saying we want regime change in Tehran, let alone doing anything to advance it. Ditto for Syria. And free Lebanon is under literal siege from Iran and its creature Hizbollah, with no sign of anything remotely approaching an appropriately vigorous defense from Washington.

Is it not shameful to see Secretary Rice knocking herself out to defend the terrorist state in would-be Palestine, and doing virtually nothing to defend the fledgling democracy in Lebanon?

A fine mess you’ve got us into, I think Laurel once said to Hardy. And the hell of it is that we could win this thing simply by sticking to our own announced principles, and support democratic revolution. I sometimes think that compassionate conservatives are the last true Marxists, because they seem to have a touching faith in vast, impersonal forces that will change the world. The truth is that men and women create change, if they will only fight for it. Which, alas, it seems we are not.

Where does all this lead? If the Democrats have their announced way, we will be humiliated in Iraq and leave in disgrace, thereby enhancing the global charisma of the jihad, enormously strengthening the terror masters, and ensuring the success of the Iranian nuclear project. How could any self-respecting fanatic not then believe that the moment of reconquista was at hand? We would then face terror on an epic scale, here and everywhere.

Alternatively, it leads to military war against Iran and Syria. This president may have decided he will not leave scenario #1 to his successor, nor to his biographers. If so, he will go after the nuclear project, and perhaps against Iran’s armies and navy as well. It would be the proof of an utterly failed strategy, and earn him, and us, the condemnation of most of the world.

That’s what happens when you don’t do what you should have done for years on end.

Khamenei encore une fois

January 18th, 2007 - 6:56 pm

Here’s the latest, from the Supreme Leader’s website.

As you see, it alleges a meeting with unnamed “Iranian officials and executives.” No numbers.

To review the bidding: he was supposed to have met with all Muslim ambassadors to the Islamic Republic, but did not. He was supposed to have met with a Pakistani delegation that came to Tehran for the sole purpose of talking with him. The meeting did not happen.

We see from the Iranian news services that Ahmadi-Nezhad is being hammered as a failed president.

This is all part of the great war within the regime over the succession to Khamenei, who is either dead or presumed dead or soon to be dead or “as good as dead.”

Iran today is without an effectively functioning Supreme Leader, and may be without a living Supreme Leader.

Here’s the report from Khamenei’s blog:

Leader Receives Officials and Executives in Charge of Hajj Pilgrimage

January 16, 2007

The Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei received a group of Iranian officials and executives in charge of the hajj pilgrimage on Tuesday, January 16.

Speaking at the meeting, the Leader expressed his appreciation for the positive measures taken during the hajj season by the officials in charge of the hajj pilgrimage.

Ayatollah Khamenei told the audience that the hajj season provides a valuable opportunity for cultural activities. He stated that efforts should be made and new initiatives should be sought to propagate Islamic values among the hajj pilgrims and raise their awareness.

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Leader of the Islamic Republic described cultural activities as the source of intellectual growth and stressed the significance of utilizing modern means of propagation in promoting Islamic and spiritual values among the hajj pilgrims.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Leader’s representative for the hajj affairs and caretaker of the Iranian hajj pilgrims Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Mohammadi-Rayshahri presented a report about the great hajj congress.

Hojjatoleslam Mohammadi-Rayshahri further referred to the cultural activities carried out during the hajj season such as the holding of international seminars.

He said that the achievements of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the field of nuclear energy and also the victory of the Lebanese Hezbollah in the face of the Zionist regime’s aggression have increased the interest of hajj pilgrims from other countries in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Last night, the New America Foundation threw a good-bye banquet for Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki, who is going home for unknown reasons after a shockingly brief tenure. The FT’s guy in Washington, Guy Dinmore, after devoting most of the story to gratuitous slams at President Bush, drops this little IED into one of the late paragraphs:

Asked about the support Iraq’s Sunni insurgents received from inside Saudi Arabia, Prince Turki said they were backed from all over the Sunni world. But he denied the kingdom was interfering in Iraq and said it was trying to stop cross-border infiltration.

And here I thought the Saudis were our allies in the war against terror. Who ever would have thought that Prince Turki himself would come out and say that not only his own family, but from good folks “all over the Sunni world”?

Of course, he was quick to deny that “the kingdom was interfering in Iraq…” He really didn’t have to. We don’t think that funding the terrorists is “interfering.” Heaven forfend.

The Iranian Network

January 17th, 2007 - 7:41 pm

If any further evidence were needed to document the Iranian network of professional killers operating in Iraq, Gateway Pundit has provided it.

Iranian Arrested at Erbil Consulate Wanted in Austria

Winston has this from ADN Kronos…
One of the five Iranians arrested at the Erbil consulate last week is wanted for murder in Austria!!

ADN Kronos reports:

Tehran, 17 Jan. (AKI) – One of the five Iranians arrested last week by the US army in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil is wanted in Austria in connection with the assassination of Kurdish leader Andol Rahman Ghassemlu in 1989. Mahommad Jaafari Sharoudi (Sahraroudi) was one of five Iranian officials detained last week in the Kurdish-controlled city on charges of being connected to a faction of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Pasdaran, that funds and arms insurgents in Iraq.

Abdol Rahman Ghassemlu, the historic leader of Iranian Kurds, was killed in an apartment in the outskirts of the Austrian capital Vienna where he was scheduled to meet a delegation sent by then Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Sahraroudi was given a hero’s welcome when he returned to Iran after the murders in 1989.

The US Military confirmed on Sunday that the five Iranians arrested in northern Iraq last week were indeed connected to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard faction that funds and arms insurgents in Iraq. But, the US has not released the names of the Iranians.

Ghassemlu was murdered in 1989 on the outskirts of Vienna by suspected Iranian agents during a secret meeting in a suburban apartment. The Iranians were envoys of Iran’s then president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani. (Kurd.net reported)

Kurdish Media has more on this story from yesterday:

16 January 2007: There is no official affirmation by the Austrian government yet for rumours identifying Mohammed Jafar Sahraroudi (alias Rahimi) as one of the arrested Iranian representatives in Erbil after the US-raid a week ago.

If the identity should be established this man would have been the head of the killers’ squadron for the assassination of Dr Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou and two of his aides on July 13th, 1989 in Vienna, Austria.

International warrants against the (altogether) three alleged Iranian murderers were issued towards the end of that year in Austria and are basically still valid, as the crime of murder does not become time-barred in this country. Thus theoretically Sahraroudi’s extradition could be demanded by Austria from the US, if he should be in their custody.

There was also speculation that one of the detained Iranians may be Former Iranian Revolutionary Guard Leader and Ahmadinejad’s chief strategic counselor Hassan Abbasi. Threats Watch is reporting that the detained Hassan Abbasi was not the Qods Force leader in question, but indeed an Iranian by that name.

Reports: Iranian Revolutionary Guard Leader Arrested in Iraq


January 13th, 2007 - 10:18 pm

I think that, for the most part, Americans’ knowledge of history comes from movies and television. It’s hard to deal fully with real history in either medium. Hardly anyone knows, therefore, that there was a vicious terrorist resistance to the occupiers of the Reich. Known as the “Werewolves,” they were, in the words of a fairly recent (2000) book on the subject, written by the Canadian historian Perry Biddiscombe


..the Werewolves did considerable damage. Their…guerrilla warfare and vigilantism caused the death of several thousand people, either directly or through the…reprisals that they provoked. The property damage…equalled tens of millions of dollars.

Big numbers in that long-ago world, big enough to constitute an “insurgency” every bit as worrisome as the Iraqi version, at least early on. And it provoked a brutal repression, more brutal on the Soviet side of Germany–where they carried out an ethnic cleansing from the Central European satellites–but quite brutal on our side of the Yalta line as well.

…the occupying powers imposed rigorous non-fraternization and denazification policies and severely prohibited German civilian movement and right of assembly. Almost all the country’s soldiers, sailors and airmen were incarcerated, at least temporarily…

Not at all a PC kind of occupation. And Biddiscombe, who doesn’t like the drastic measures any more than you or I, nonetheless concludes that it just had to be done. If you think it’s too harsh, he says, remember that the Werewolves were trying to save Nazism, and you should think through “what impact the organization of such a movement–under the noses of the invaders and occupiers–was likely to have had.”

If left free to organize, the Werewolves would have killed many more Allied soldiers, demonstrated the impotence of the occupiers, delayed for a long time, perhaps a generation, the denazification of the culture, and provoked internecine conflict within the Allied zones of Germany.

The brutal repression worked, the Werewolves were shattered within a couple of years, and, as even the tv generations know, Germany became a successful democatic country.

If the Allies had been operating under current standards and rules of engagement, the repression would not have been possible. Abu Ghraib was nothing compared to the vicious treatment of prisoners in occupied Germany, and innocent victims were commonplace, for which our military leaders did not apologize at all. Quite the contrary. Their view was that the Germany people had to understand, without any room for doubt, that we would not tolerate any effort to revive German militarism or Nazi doctrine. The quickest way for the Germans to end the occupation was to cooperate with the occupying armies, turn in anyone who was inclined to resist, and learn the rules of a democratic society.

I am not saying–since I don’t believe it–that if we had imposed a similarly brutal occupation on Iraq, we would have wiped out the terrorists in a couple of years. The situations are very different, not least of all because the terrorists in Iraq have material external support from Iran and Syria, and financial and ideological support from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries. If the Werewolves in the Western zones had received Soviet support, it would have made our task enormously more difficult.

I am telling the story for several reasons. First, because it’s useful to know that there was considerable resistance to our most successful occupation, and to the task we set ourselves: extirpate totalitarianism and create democracy in Germany. And second, that those who judge our behavior in Iraq as something akin to Nazism (a phrase tossed around by intellectual luminaries in public life with gay abandon, especially luminaries from Massachusetts), know very little about Nazism, or about how tough it was to wipe it out.