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Our Enemies’ Hollow Castles

May 4th, 2014 - 2:52 pm

We know that our side is doing poorly.  What about the bad guys?  Before we inscribe the likes of Khamenei, Putin, and Maduro in the lists of world-historical figures, and throw up our (outstretched) hands in despair, let’s look at them with the jaundiced sneer they deserve.

Venezuela’s the easiest:  sustained anti-regime demonstrations have been running for more than three months, and seem unlikely to stop soon.  Staples are in short supply, rationing cards are in the mail, inflation is at 40% and surging, gas stations are closed because there’s no gas, and despite the usual brutality of state repression (widely blamed on Cuban “advisers” which recalls the role played by Russian and Iranian “advisers” in Syria), the demonstrators keep showing up.  Few analysts think Maduro is likely to fall soon, but then again few expected the fall of the Ukrainian regime when challenged by the Maidan protesters.

Whatever your own crystal ball foretells, the regime is wobbly, the society is deeply riven, the opposition seems well organized and well led, and Maduro is certainly not in a position to play an effective role in the global anti-American alliance that stretches from Pyongyang to Managua and Havana by way of Moscow and Tehran.  Venezuela’s crisis significantly weakens our enemies.

Iran is at once the most difficult to see plain, and the clearest case of regime failure.  Ben Weinthal recently asked rhetorically whether there is a rising wave of political protest in Iran.  He pointed out that a considerable number of Iranians were cutting their hair–even shaving their heads–to protest the savaging of political prisoners in Evin Prison’s infamous horror chambers.  Ben’s story struck a harshly dissonant international chord in the face of the extended chorus of praise that has serenaded Rouhani ever since his election last June.

Rouhani is a replay of the last Iranian “reformist” president, Mohammad Khatami, who failed miserably to reform anything, and whose only popular success was with Western dreamers in the political and academic clouds.  Having lived through that phony reform, the Iranian people have little inclination to be gulled by the latest version, especially as they see the emptiness of Rouhani’s promises every day.  Nothing good is happening for them.  You may have heard that the Iranian economy is “improving,” but you’d have a hard time convincing the Iranian equivalent of Joe Sixpack of that.  Things are getting tougher for them–as in Venezuela, gas stations are closed because there is no gas–and the regime isn’t helping.  The government–that’s Rouhani et. al.–is eliminating the energy subsidies that keep millions of the poor afloat.

This is only one of many signs of the political and economic ruin of the regime.  Most of the major banks are broke, as is–officially–the National Iranian Oil Company, and most all of any increase in income resulting from the collapse of the sanctions policy goes not to social needs or even to productive enterprise, but to the corrupt ruling class.  And the mullahs are destroying the country itself, from the smog that chokes Tehran (Iran has four of the ten most pulluted cities in the world) to the destruction of Lake Urmia (in a replay of what the Soviets did to Lake Baikal).  Listen to the assessment of a reformist a few months back:

As a governing system, the government and executive branch of the Islamic republic, has lost its ability to carry out the normal duties of a government….The signs of dysfunction in the administrative, financial and economic organizations are evident despite all the imposed regime filters and in the absence of honest independent news agencies not only in the contradictory and confrontational policies and decisions of officials and senior administrators but also in the smallest administrative units of the country.

The wreckage of the Iranian state is not just the result of corruption and incompetence;  it also derives from the intense infighting within the elite.  Unconfirmed stories have appeared in the Iranian press reporting phone taps organized by the Revolutionary Guards Corps against members of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s inner circle, as well as against one another within the Guards.  There are documented fractures within the ranks of Hezbollah.  Assassinations continue apace, as in the case of Mojtaba Ahmadi, the head of the Cyber Army, in October.  The Iranian Embassy in Beirut was bombed in November by a terrorist group the Iranians had actually created.   And, in a telling blow to the regime’s ideology, Christianity is booming, and the regime is resorting to public meetings to warn the people about its dangers.

The regime does not seem to know how to cope with this crisis.  On the one hand, it increases repression.  The tempo of executions has famously increased since Rouhani’s election, and the recent brutality in Evin Prison–discussed by Ben Weinthal–shows that regime leaders are even afraid of prisoners.  For good reason:  last year many leading political prisoners refused to join the regime’s call for easing sanctions, despite torture and isolation.

It’s a hollow regime.  Its internal opponents hold it in contempt and do not fear it, and it is palpably failing.  Yet, as its unpopularity mounts, it calls for a doubling of the population.  Khamenei wants 150 million Iranians, and the state is working to get the numbers up:  free birth control assistance is being terminated (except for HIV-positives), and artificial insemination has been declared Islamically correct.

Does the supreme leader want more and more opponents of the regime?  Who knows?  Maybe it’s a desire for cannon fodder…

Which leaves us with Putin and his Russia.

Top Rated Comments   
The isolationists are in a high dudgeon this morning. Sorry children, but Mr. Ledeen is right. We have enemies, and they are waging war against us whether we like it or not. They must be resisted.

Your misrepresentations of what he has written don't change that fact. All of you hysterical ninnies who "interpret" (to be generous) what he has written as some sort of call to invade Russia are pathetic. Reading comprehension is critical, kids. The whole premise of this piece is that if we act decisively now in the political and diplomatic arenas we won't HAVE to engage militarily later.

You can disagree with that premise all you want, but stop making fools of yourselves by arguing against a make believe call-to-arms that Mr. Ledeen hasn't made.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The West is very weak, and doesn’t want to fight a determined aggressor. But then, we didn’t want to fight in what became the Second World War, and our weakness was far worse than it is today."

This is classic textbook, one might even say Soviet style, propaganda. Using an association with something popular, in this case WWII to try to gain support, especially for what would otherwise have little if any from most normal people, especially those who would have to fight it. Of course, not popular in the sense that Americans wanted to fight WWII, but in that they knew it was the right thing to do under the circumstances. Why not use Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam which turned unpopular? The answer to that is obvious. That would be negative to your propaganda and what propagandist would want to do that?

Or would you say you use WWII as your comparison war because you think we need another world war as Russia, is about to invade Poland, then France, then Great Britain, then Hawaii, then Alaska, then Washington, then Oregon, then California, then Arizona, then New Mexico, then even Texas? Even Texas? Well, that's where they would be stopped anyway. Obviously you must want all to think Russian Genghis Khans are about to invade a whole lot more than East Ukraine, even though despite all the goading [anti-Russian forces trapping and burning alive dozens of people, likely with the Ukraine govs OK, and Obama's OK to them as just one example], Putin seems reluctant to do even that. He may not even want East Ukraine. He seems to have very mixed feelings. The Ukraine overall is certainly no prize. It almost makes Mexico look good. I don't know how to break this to you and Hillary but Putin is not Hitler II. Now Obama and his minions, on the other hand, I'm not so sure.

As to all exactly that is going on in Ukraine and all the machinations and propaganda, do you believe Obama and his MSM propagandists and his lackeys on Benghazi, IRS, NSA, BLM, DOJ, EPA, ATF, ObamaCare, etc? I hope not. And if not, why believe them on Ukraine or any other foreign policy matter? Are any judgments you made dependent on their being truthful for a change? Do you think someone gives them truth serum when they talk foreign policy and military affairs ? As well as a highly remarkable intelligence boasting drug? Mark Twain once said, "Be careful when reading medical books. You could die from a misprint". I don't want Americans, or Ukrainians or Russians, especially Americans, to die for a misprint. Maybe those who want all this could just buy a copy of "World War III - the video game" and leave the rest of America the hell alone, especially the troops who have been used and abused enough in the, at best, not worth nearly the price they paid in Iraq and Afghanistan already.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The West is very weak, and doesn’t want to fight a determined aggressor. But then, we didn’t want to fight in what became the Second World War, and our weakness was far worse than it is today."

If you want to war with Russia, a major conventional power and major nuclear power, feel free to take the next plane over there. And don't forget to write.

"Power-mad tyrants have historically done poorly anticipating our response when push came to shove, and even worse judging their own countries’ ability to both dominate others and bring glory in their own realm."

Sounds like you are describing Obama and his gang almost to perfection.

"All of which, I think, should give us pause to reflect on the hollowness of our enemies’ regimes and the fragility of their ambitious enterprise to destroy us."

Russia is not trying to destroy us anymore than "global warming" is. If you believe one, you might as well believe the other.

"To be sure, Obama and his dudes don’t have any stomach for exposing our enemies’ weaknesses. But there are others, outside the corridors of the executive branch, who should do it. Like Winston Churchill in the House of Commons, they should remind the American people that the war is on, and that we can and must win it. "

You can drop Winston Churchill's name all you want. You can drop God Almighty's name if you want. There is no war on with Russia unless some mad person or person brings it on.

"If we wage political war against the tyrants"

In case you have forgotten, we have a big tyrant right here in America, and you want to go looking for them elsewhere.

"we can prevail without sending our kids onto foreign battlefields."

Oh yes, it will all be so easy. And if there is a war, it will be over quickly and with few casualties on our side, and no unexpected consequences as America's foreign policy and military geniuses, appointed and self-appointed, have anticipated the other sides every possible move just like they always do. I've heard all that before. It's a crock.

In our country one class of men makes war and leaves another to fight it out. (William Tecumseh Sherman)

12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (23)
All Comments   (23)
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Like Horatius at the Bridge (How many of the overly politicized are able to correctly ascertain this episode from the past?), Michael stands with others to defend in a stalwart fashion how life ought to be lived.

After all, freedom is better than oppression.

One thing that I would like people to weigh in on, is this from Con Coughlin: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/10809186/West-fears-Iran-is-supplying-chlorine-bombs-to-Syria.html
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I saw that Michael had posted these lines--

"If we wage political war against the tyrants, we can prevail without sending our kids onto foreign battlefields. If we don’t, we’ll either have to hope that our enemies fall from within–and it’s possible–or face the battlefields again in short order."

--I assumed that he would obviate the responses accusing him of wanting to send American children to war. Ha Ha! Wrong. It's pretty hard to have an intelligent conversation on foreign affairs if the real problem is reading comprehension.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Clausewitz:
War is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will.

Political 'warfare' will continue to be useless, and economic 'warfare' may
succeed too well; An enemy regime with nothing left to lose may do anything.

What the US could do, if it had the will, is to assassinate the leaders of the
Iranian regime, and their replacements, until, finally, rational leaders came
to power in Iran.

What the US could do, if it had the will, is to ally with Russia and China
against a common enemy: The coming global economic collapse.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
You assume that Russia and China would be willing and interested to ally with us. It would depend greatly upon the nature of the alliance.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
All the regimes are impotent and brittle, but we do not realize that dining on myths of Islamic power.

If they had the ability they would do much more but they do not: what we see is weakness not restraint.

I believe that the West is waiting for a provocation to justify very extravert and aggressive action.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Who says our Political Class wants to win?

They obviously don't.

Islam and Communism compete for the #1 spot in their heart of hearts.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Most upbeat report I have read in a long time.

Thx.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I hope everyone noticed the shape-shift: Michael Ledeen coming up with options for action that do not include American boys perishing in their American military boots on foreign soil.

I think we're in a new dimension now, in case we missed it.

And oh yes, faster please.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
The last Seldon crisis the novel Foundation was solved by doing nothing.

Of course that is a novel, but it begs inspection. Sometimes using troops or more troops is not the solution. Of course I would not trust the people at Foggy Bottom to make that decision.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Recall?
Cicero's concerns about a nation or a society's worst enemies those within in that despise its institutions and traditions.
Then, recall the 2009 Czech newspaper article about how could any nation with our history and framework of government elect someone like our now RE-elected pResident?
False hope?
The sworn Speaker of the U.S. House will finally do his known and all too obvious for too long duty and appoint Trey Gowdy for Chair of the Select Committee on the Benghazi betrayals and cover-up today, please !! ??
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
The isolationists are in a high dudgeon this morning. Sorry children, but Mr. Ledeen is right. We have enemies, and they are waging war against us whether we like it or not. They must be resisted.

Your misrepresentations of what he has written don't change that fact. All of you hysterical ninnies who "interpret" (to be generous) what he has written as some sort of call to invade Russia are pathetic. Reading comprehension is critical, kids. The whole premise of this piece is that if we act decisively now in the political and diplomatic arenas we won't HAVE to engage militarily later.

You can disagree with that premise all you want, but stop making fools of yourselves by arguing against a make believe call-to-arms that Mr. Ledeen hasn't made.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Good comment, MarkInf - people who can't make a good argument, or perhaps can't think of anything useful to say, practice the ol' Obama trick of creating strawmen only to knock them down.

Mr. Ledeen is a champion of human freedom, but he is no militarist. Most of the time his (mostly unheeded) calls to action have involved only political or economic opposition, ior perhaps carefully calibrated "black ops", sometimes as little as simply expressing moral support to those who are suffering.

In our case, only a self-absorbed idiot either fails to understand, or fails to acknowledge, that the three regimes (not peoples) Ledeen writes of in this post are determined enemies of the United States of America, as well as enemies of their own people. If we do not understand or take account of both their strengths and their weaknesses, as he recounts it for us, then we are merely ignorantly hiding out from very real threats.

If we had a government that was intent on opposing, destabilizing, undermining, and otherwise thwarting the most serious enemies of the United States - we clearly don't - then we would in fact be opposing, destabilizing, undermining, and otherwise thwarting the most serious enemies of the United States. The problem is, we aren't.

And so in the power vacuum that assuredly follows, much ill behavior goes rewarded. And ultimately, like a cancer, if we ignore it long enough it eventually kills us.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very well said. All of it.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Lies are all that the likes of Joenobody has.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have no doubt that Venezuela, Iran, and Russia (hell, include China and North Korea) have serious problems socially and economically. They are socialists, and problematic societies/economies come with that package. OUR problem is that a not inconsiderable number of our "loyal" citizens, to include the entirety of the Democrat party, are dedicated to our defeat at the hands of our adversaries. These are folks who are convinced the wrong side won the Cold War, and are determined to rectify History.

The enemy isn't on foreign shores; it is in Washington (and New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, etc.)
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re:
"The enemy isn't on foreign shores; it is in Washington (and New York, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, etc.)"

Let's add Northern Virginia to that list.

Specifically, our main and most serious enemy is the infiltrated, subversive, and very patient portion of our resident citizens, legal and illegal, who call themselves Muslims.

We Americans seem to have a new emerging and circular problem personified by the unthinking new demographic who've twice, twice, elected that artificial creation named Obama to the Oval Office. Add to this circle our hesitant Republican House majority who seem frozen with indecision on the nasty business of calling spades spades and starting a Motion Of Impeachment of Obama.

Of course Reid and his claque of fellow travelers will prevent that from going anywhere seriously threatening.

But the machinations following the making of that Impeachment Motion will be very revealing and will give clearer indications of [perhaps] just who stands where.

We seem to be on some sort of National pivot point or fulcrum, and until one end or the other of that teeter-board touches ground, we're wasting a lot of empty words; and the Muslims are waiting in the wings, ready to make things even more nasty.

Remember, these Muslims cause major social unrest everywhere they gather, and they're really, really gathering right now, inside our America. But that voting New Demographic doesn't seem to care beyond the ends of their noses.
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12 weeks ago
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