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The Big Story — the Global War — Goes Mostly Unreported

March 18th, 2014 - 2:03 pm

The “news” is resolutely out of context.  A subject about which virtually nothing is known–the mystery of the missing airplane–gets saturation “coverage,” while events of potentially earth-shaking importance are largely unreported. Twitter is full of tweets, photos and videos from the streets of Venezuela, but the Maduro tyranny expelled CNN, and Wolf Blitzer crams his airtime with heads talking about the Malaysian passenger jet.  Any self-respecting “news network” would relentlessly run stories about the ongoing demonstrations from Caracas to Maracaibo–demonstrations surely the equal of those from Maidan Square in Kiev–but no.

The Venezuelan uprising may turn out to be the biggest story of all, because it is part of a world-wide battle that pits anti-Western tyrannies against their own people, and against their neighbors.  It is of a piece with Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Russia itself, where, just a few days ago, fifty thousand Muscovites demonstrated against Putin’s imperialist moves in Ukraine.

I’ve been saying for years that we’re the target of a global war, that the Pyongyang-Beijing-Moscow-Tehran-Damascus-Havana-Caracas etc Axis of Evil is hell-bent to dominate and destroy us.  Now the evidence is so clear that only a willfully blind man could fail to see it.  When the pundits were saying that Assad’s doom was imminent, I warned that he had the full support of Russia and Iran, and they would not go quietly.  He didn’t, but the pundits are still trying to unscrew the inscrutable jihadi networks and alliances, invoking the tired chant of Sunni vs Shi’ite, and refusing to see the battle of Syria in the context of the real war.

Today, the repression of the Venezuelan people is under the command of Cubans and aided by Hezbollahis, which is part of the same picture that has Russian troops-in-mufti operating in Ukraine, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah killers operating in Syria, Iranian-guided terrorists fighting in Yemen, Iranian-trained Taliban killing Afghans and Americans, and on and on.  That picture has been clarified by the announcement that Russia is opening naval bases in Latin America.

It’s the War, You Dolt

March 2nd, 2014 - 6:45 pm

No surprise that the intel guys, like their political bosses, reassured themselves that Russia wouldn’t invade.  Even though they made the same mistake just a few years ago when the morsel was Georgia.  Indeed, that kind of error, revolving around the phrase “rational actor,” is the trademark of Western confusion about the world.  They refuse to see that our enemies are waging war against us, thus refuse to think about winning that war, thus lose many battles, and happily retreat. After all, if our enemies are rational actors, what could go wrong? We could even slash and burn our own military.  Not to worry.

It’s not as if we’re at war, after all.

And we’re not.  Only our enemies are.  It’s like target practice for them.  Fortunately, they’re not very good at it, and so they miss a lot. When they win, they find ways to screw it up.  They took over Egypt, remember?  Then lost it in the “biggest demonstration in human history” (thus sayeth the BBC).  They were on the verge of taking over Tunisia, but no more.  They made a hash out of Ukraine and Venezuela, then lost the first and are facing the people’s wrath in the second.  They keep trying to organize lethal rocket and missile attacks on Israel, only to get destroyed.

They are hard at work over here, too, trying to blow us up, but they’re dismissed, their plain meaning written off, just as the global war against us is written off.  Did you notice that remarkable story out of Georgia Tech?  An Iranian grad student was carted off to the hospital with severe burns over most of his body, apparently because he blew himself up with a Molotov cocktail.  The usual keen-eyed anti-jihadi bloggers were all over it, and both local Fox and CBS reported the event (misidentifying the victim’s home country, but no matter), but as usual one would like to know more, and as usual one doesn’t.  Perhaps this will be added to the list of mythological “home-grown terrorist events,” even though the guy got his undergraduate degree at Tehran University.

For those who actually want to see the world plain, the global network is luminously clear, from North Korea and China to Russia, Iran and Syria, to Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua.  Those are the nations aligned against us.  They support a variety of terror groups, from al-Qaeda to Islamic Jihad to the various Latin American guerrillas, and they work in cahoots with the narcotics mafiosi.

There are two keystones in this global network:  Iran and Venezuela, with Russia manipulating them both as best Putin can.  If we see the world plain, the current revolutionary turmoil in Venezuela is enormously important, arguably the most important hot spot on earth today.  For if the Castroite tyranny in Caracas were to fall, it would be a devastating blow to the Axis of Evil.  The bad guys know it;  that’s why, in addition to Cuban intel officers and special forces, Hezbollahis are moving from Damascus to Caracas.  Khamenei knows there’s an intimate connection between what happens in Venezuela and what happens in Syria.

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So We Should Only Criticize the Dems?

February 26th, 2014 - 11:53 am

All this whining about Ted Cruz is getting on my nerves.  They’re upset that he’s criticizing Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell, instead of rallying to the Republican establishment banner in all the primaries, the better, they seem to think, to take over the Senate after the November elections.  “Fight Obama, not the Republican leadership.”

So their argument is that hard-fought primaries might produce more conservative candidates in November, and this would be a bad thing.  It’s going to be hard to convince Cruz, since he’s only in the Senate because he challenged the establishment candidate in the Republican primary in Texas a couple of years ago.  And won the primary.  And then won the general election bigtime.

Mind you, I’m not in favor of supporting deranged candidates.  I shudder at the thought of repeats of some of the latest conservative nominees.  But I’m not at all convinced that tough primaries are bad for the Republican Party, or indeed for the country.  Quite the contrary.  I’m all for it.  The country’s in a terrible jam and we need outstanding leaders, men of strong will and conviction, who won’t catch Potomac fever, who won’t go along to win the next election.  I don’t think the Republican Party is well led.  Who does?  I think McConnell and Boehner have run away from too many important fights.  If they had been up to their challenges, we’d know a lot more about the use of the IRS as a Democrat political weapon, we’d have a clear timeline for Obama’s actions on Benghazi day and night, we’d know exactly what this administration agreed to with the Iranians, and we’d stop raising the debt limit, cutting state profligacy instead.  I’d love to see them replaced, and I don’t see any chance of that happening unless they have to pay a price for their lousy leadership.  Like losing.

Don’t we believe in accountability?  If you want to tell me that Cruz’s targets are better than their challengers, I’m all ears.  But to say he’s wrong to go after them for their actions and lack of action, I’m not impressed.  He’s right.

We need a very vigorous debate, and no one should be given a free pass.  If a sitting senator or representative has failed to fight the expansion of state power and the policy of global appeasement, I want to hear why.  Tough Republican primaries will help define the issues in the November election.  That sort of debate will produce criticism of Obama, and perhaps lead to the election of those who may provide the will and the vision to start undoing at least some of the damage his presidency has done to us.

So it’s misleading to accuse Cruz of ignoring Obama and only going after Republicans.  He’s going after Republicans who have failed to fight Obama.

When I read some of the attacks on Cruz, I wonder if at least some of the anger is the result of his tenacity.  I remember being told, when he was in the midst of his filibuster against Obamacare, that it was going to be damaging to the country and deadly to himself.  He would lose, and that would pretty much end his role as a potential party or national leader.

He’s still standing, and he was proven right to go all out to try to stop Obamacare.

I quite agree with Jeffrey Lord when he says:

Simply put, Ted Cruz — like Ronald Reagan before him — understands what it takes to make a majority. And he’s doing it. Over the vociferous objections of the same kind of people who kept warning Republicans that if they listened to Ronald Reagan they would get clobbered. Which is exactly why Ted Cruz is being greeted as a hero.

I think he’s right to call attention to the shortcomings of his party’s leaders.  Would you rather shut him up and then hear the criticism from Bill and Hillary?

 

What If We Were Winning But Nobody Noticed?

February 21st, 2014 - 7:17 am

It’s all about winning and losing, but the best man doesn’t always win, and outcomes frequently have more to do with luck than with merit.  Brilliant strategies fail, and fools stumble into glorious victories.  Napoleon preferred a lucky general to a brilliant one.

Which brings us to today.  The headlines are grim, the pictures from Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are blood-chilling, executions and demonstrations are mounting in Iran, and Obama doesn’t know what to do about anything.  So he doesn’t do anything; he and his strategists just dither.  And yet…

And yet, our enemies may be on the verge of losing.  Big time.

Maybe the elimination of the Russian Olympic hockey team was an augury, foreshadowing a shift in Putin’s destiny.  Up until quite recently, he waved his mailed fist and barked out commands that were obeyed from Georgia to Syria.  He, along with the Syrian, Iranian, Nicaraguan, Honduran, Venezuelan, Cuban, and Bolivian dictators and would-be dictators, was forging a global alliance aimed against the West, and nobody in the West seemed to notice, let alone take steps to combat it.  The global alliance consists primarily of jihadis and radical leftists, the two principal forces committed to the destruction of what is sometimes known as the Western world.

That alliance is cracking, because many millions of people are fighting the anti-Western tyrants.  They aren’t pundits, and they haven’t calculated the odds on success.  They just fight.  Almost none of the major events of the past few years was foreseen by the deep thinkers, most all of whom thought that Egypt was lost to the jihadists, Assad was firmly in control of Syria, and Chavismo was destined to rule in Venezuela for years to come.

But in Egypt, where the Muslim Brothers took over the most important country in the Muslim Middle East, they lost it within a year.  They were brought down by what the BBC called “the largest demonstration in human history.”  In Tunisia, the birthplace of the “Arab Spring,” the radical jihadists were briefly in control, and then lost to more moderate forces, including secular leaders.  The fighting in Syria began when members of the nation’s armed forces–neither religiously nor ideologically radical–rebelled against the Assad tyranny.  I don’t know more than a couple of people who thought the opposition would endure…until they did an about-face and told us the opposition was unbeatable and Assad was about to fall.  In Ukraine, the people have risen against a government that was clearly a marionette of Moscow.  And in Venezuela, the streets of the major cities are filled with people fighting against a failed Cuban-style dictatorship.

The Ukrainian government is now technically a minority in Parliament (some of its members having defected), and there are reports that the rats are scampering away, loading expensive automobiles and containers full of cash onto airplanes at the Kiev airport (like you, I want to know where those planes are going to land.  We’ll know shortly, I have no doubt).

The Venezuelan demonstrations don’t seem to be getting any smaller, and when the Maduro regime arrested the opposition leader, it backfired, as even more people took to the streets.

For those keeping score: the enemy alliance has lost in Egypt and Tunisia, is losing Ukraine, is in great peril in Venezuela, is losing men and money in significant quantities in Syria, and faces determined opposition inside Iran.

To be sure, there’s bad news too, as you’ll see on the next page.

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The Lights Are Going Out. Or Is It On?

February 18th, 2014 - 1:40 pm

Are the anti-neocons ready to reconsider?  For years now, they’ve been lambasting us (presumed marionettes of Bushitlercheney) for unleashing war and misery on the world’s unfortunates, and death and mayhem on our own young fighters.  They yelled, “Hands off!  Let peace prevail!  Or if it doesn’t, so be it;  it’s not our problem.”

They yelled other things, too, mostly along the lines of “you can’t get a democracy in a place that’s never had it.”  They vigorously deny that there is anything remotely resembling a universal impulse toward freedom.

Some of them, now in the Peace and Love room, or in the White House residence, where policy is committed, remain convinced that most of the world’s problems are our fault, and they are unwilling to take action against foreign nations whose regimes rest on the same conviction.  Better to talk.  That way, our (soon-to-be-former) enemies will see that we have learned our lesson, and so we can All Get Along.

They called it “leading from behind.”  In normal English, it’s “retreat.”

Are they pleased with the results?  As America withdrew from the world, we got new wars.  Terrible wars, complete with weapons of mass destruction (Syria), ethnic and tribal slaughter (Nigeria, Libya, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran), a revived al-Qaeda (whether “core” or “peripheral”), and growing involvement of the likes of Moscow and Tehran in areas where we used to have something to say.

The main thing is the slaughter.  Have you looked at Venezuela or Ukraine today?  The Iranians–officially–hung more than a dozen citizens today. Don’t those big crowds of demonstrators remind you of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood demonstrations in Egypt?  Or of the anti-Khamenei demonstrations in Iran?

All these monster demonstrations have taken place during the Obama years, the years of retreat.  We didn’t organize them, any more than we organized the Syrian resistance to Assad, or the Iranian resistance to Khamenei.  In my view, we should have, but we didn’t.  So who are the anti-neocons going to blame them on?

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Appeasers believe that if you keep on throwing steaks to a tiger, the tiger will become a vegetarian.
Heywood Campbell Broun.

I don’t think it’s hard to understand Obama’s foreign policy.  Although there’s a lot we don’t know about him, his basic impulses are clear enough.  He’s told us what they are (although, to be sure, he often misleads and obfuscates), and his actions are in keeping with his announced impulses.  Furthermore, there’s nothing unique or surprising about them — you can hear them in our classrooms and our college dorms, and read them in the establishment press every day.  He’s an establishment member in high standing.

Voilá:

He believes that most of the serious problems in the world are the result of past American actions.  Call it imperialism.  Call it meddling.  Call it arrogance (as the Iranians do).  Whatever you call it, it means that pre-Obama policies were bad.  Ergo, it’s mostly Bush’s fault. (Shorthand for “before me, they didn’t understand.  Anything.”)

It follows that the single most important action to ensure good policies is to rein in the United States.  Get it out of the messes it has created.  Weaken its abilities to meddle elsewhere.  Ergo the retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Ergo the often spectacular dissing of past allies and the embarrassing embrace of previous and actual enemies.  Diss Mubarak, embrace the Muslim Brotherhood.  Ergo the incredible shrinking military budget, ergo the back-of-the-hand slap to many of our greatest warriors.

It also follows that our foreign policy requires a new language, beginning with making amends for the bad policies of the past, and continuing with a dramatic realignment, aiming at creating a new alliance structure with countries we maltreated in the past.  Ergo the global apology tour.  Ergo the refusal to respond to insults from the likes of Hugo Chavez.  Ergo the Russian “reset” stratagem.  And ergo the Iran deal, pursued eagerly and relentlessly even before the 2008 election results were in, wrapped in terms of respect (the careful pronunciation of “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” for example).  And ergo the rejection of “American exceptionalism,” putting the United States on the same moral and political platform as contemporary Greece.

Those are his core principles.  It’s a highly ideological policy matrix, beginning with his conviction that WE are the root cause of most bad things.  It’s not subtle, doesn’t require mastery of nuance or even history, as his error-ridden Cairo speech demonstrated to anyone who cared to actually read it (my favorite is the claim that Muslims invented printing, when the Chinese did that, and Portuguese Jews brought it to the Middle East).  Indeed, he and his minions are so uninterested in the facts of the world that they regularly invent the world, as Secretary of State Kerry did when he falsely announced that “last year, not one Israeli was killed by a Palestinian from the West Bank.”  Actually there were several.

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It’s the Middle Eastern version of the old Abbott and Costello routine “Who’s On First?”  Just when we thought we had at least most of the killers in Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq sorted out, things suddenly became baffling.  Incomprehensible, even.  Some days you can’t tell the players even WITH a scorecard.

In Syria, some three years ago, a bunch of non-fanatics defected from Assad’s regular army, and started fighting against his regime.  There were more defections, and the opposition grew stronger, despite the regime’s violent counter-attacks.  It began to look like Assad might fall.  Then his two big allies, Russia and Iran, shipped in weapons and fighters and the tide turned.  It began to look like the opposition might be wiped out.  Then various Islamist fanatics–including two or three that could reliably be called “al-Qaeda”–rallied to the opposition cause, and did well enough for the conventional wisdom to embrace the thought that nobody was strong enough to win.  Then the various opposition groups started killing one another, tilting the battlefield back in Assad’s (and Iran’s, and Russia’s) favor.

I’m not going to make you memorize the names of all the groups.  I just want you to focus for a moment on the Abbott and Costello theme:  whose side is al-Qaeda on?  At first it seemed pretty clear:  al-Qaeda was fighting alongside the opposition, against Assad, which is to say, against Iran and Russia.  The AQ leaders often said so, in just those words.  But now comes word that the al-Qaeda forces are getting at least some support from Iran.  That word comes from the U.S. Treasury and State Departments and other good sources, by way of Tom Joscelyn, my friend and colleague at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and he’s as good as it gets.

The key AQ leader in this baffling story is Yasin al-Suri, who was branded as a senior AQ operative in Iran (where he’d been active since 2005, which suggests he gets on well with the mullahs) by the Treasury in 2011.  Treasury offered a $10 million reward for help capturing al-Suri, and the Iranians arrested him.  But that was then.  Now he’s out of jail, and hard at work:

“As head al Qaeda facilitator in Iran, al Suri is responsible for overseeing al Qaeda efforts to transfer experienced operatives and leaders from Pakistan to Syria, organizing and maintaining routes by which new recruits can travel to Syria via Turkey and assisting in the movement of al Qaeda external operatives to the West,” an unnamed State Department official told Al Jazeera.

An official at Treasury confirmed the claim.  The U.S. government officials are not the only ones talking about collusion between Iran/Assad and the opposition.  Michel Kilo, an opposition leader whose anti-Assad credentials are very credible, goes so far as to claim that the Islamist groups were actually organized and directed from Damascus.

“There are photos that have been found of several emirs of ISIS with [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad,” said Kilo, who spoke with Al-Monitor on the sidelines of the Geneva II talks.

“The pictures were taken before they became emirs in ISIS (a leading Islamist anti-Assad group), when they were all officers in the Syrian special service. There are documents sent by the special service to ISIS telling them to capture or kidnap people in Raqqa and Jarabalus, and these documents will be published. And you will see how the regime fabricated these extremist groups that did not exist in our country at the beginning of the revolution.”

So one group of Islamist killers has its leader in Tehran, and another has long-standing connections between its leaders and Damascus.  Yet there is no doubt that both groups are fighting.  They’ve been effective.  They’ve certainly killed Syrians, and almost certainly they’ve killed Iranians too.  Nowadays they are also killing other opposition fighters in other groups.  Just today, for example, the leader of one of the Islamist groups was killed by a car bomb set by another Islamist group.

Is there any way to make sense of this, or should we just say that it’s a classic Hobbesian conflict, “the war of every man against every man”?  It could very well be just that.  But maybe not.

I don’t know the answer (although I think that the keys to unlocking the mystery are probably in the Iranian and/or Russian archives), but it reminds me of one of the greatest of all grand deceptions, the Soviet-created “Trust” just after the Revolution.  That was organized by the Soviet intelligence service, which created a phony opposition movement whose “leaders” contacted Western governments with offers to topple the Bolshevik regime.  The “Trust” leaders provided the Western strategists with secret documents, and even assassinated Soviet officials in order to establish the bona fides of the Trust.  The West bought the deception, and funded the Trust, giving the Soviets money, knowledge of Western plans, and the ability to manipulate Western anti-Soviet operations.  The Trust’s most celebrated victim was the British official “Reilly Ace of Spies,” who was lured to a meeting, arrested, tortured, and executed.

Stratagems of this sort are not all that unusual, and it would not surprise me to learn that Iran sponsored al-Qaeda groups in Syria and Iraq, posing (and indeed often acting) as anti-Assad or anti-Maliki forces, in order to penetrate the opposition, manipulate its actions, and foment fighting among the various groups, all to the ultimate advantage of Khamenei/Maliki/Assad.

As Tom Joscelyn, scratching his talented mind, remarks,

The Iranian regime…has mastered duplicity and may have unknown reasons for keeping tabs on al Qaeda’s operations. Al Qaeda has also been willing to work with Iran on multiple occasions since the early 1990s, despite the two sides’ fundamentally different theologies and sometime vehement disagreements.

Iranian policy rarely moves in straight lines;  it’s more like gyres and spirals.  They’re very flexible, to put it mildly.  Remember that before 9/11 the Iranians were prime targets of Taliban killers.  Today Iran trains Taliban killers in both Pakistan and Iran itself.  So flexibility concerning al-Qaeda shouldn’t surprise anyone.

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There are none so blind as those who will not see, and hardly anyone wants to see Iran for what it is:  an evil regime bound and determined to dominate and destroy us, our friends and our allies.  The evidence is luminously clear, but most all of our attention has focused, as usual, on the nuclear issue.  Did the Iranians promise to stop enriching uranium or “dismantle” some of the components of their nuclear program?  How many Western sanctions are being eased or lifted in exchange? And on and on…

We don’t know the answers to these questions, as the text of the agreement is secret.  However, we do know that the Iranians now have six months — the sort of deadline that often slides — to reach a “final” agreement with the 5 + 1 countries.

We can expect the Iranians to prolong and exploit this period to their advantage and our peril.  They’ve already begun. The Iranian regime is expanding its regional and global power, killing its domestic enemies, and subverting and intimidating Middle Eastern nations that are reluctant to bend to its will.  These matters require serious Western attention, but they aren’t getting much.  For us, it’s all about nukes and sanctions.

Just take a few of their major actions:

● A few days ago, Mohammad Reza Naghdi, the head of the Basij– a highly ideological militia under the umbrella of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps — publicly announced that Iran had created Basij units in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and “Palestine.”  This means that the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism has put paramilitary forces on Israel’s borders.

● In a closely related matter, Iran has taken a giant step toward establishing control over Lebanon.  A week ago, Saad Hariri, a key Sunni leader long opposed to Iranian influence and a declared enemy of Iran’s close ally Bashar Assad, said he is willing to form a government with Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy.  Hariri made this grim announcement in the Hague, where he was attending the trial of four Hezbollahis accused of murdering his father in 2005.  It came soon after the Beirut assassination of his close advisor, Mohamad Chatah, during the Christmas holidays.  The murder was widely blamed on Hezbollah.

● In Syria, where Iran is effectively in command of the pro-Assad forces, the slaughter of opposition forces and innocent civilians continues unabated.  Now that chemical weapons have been banned (although the opposition continues to claim they are still being used), more conventional weapons of mass destruction — like the “barrel bombs” — are being dropped on opposition centers in and around Aleppo, and elsewhere regime enemies are being starved to death.

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Gates and the Duty Dilemma

January 21st, 2014 - 1:01 pm

robert_gates_1-21-14-2

You’re Bob Gates, the secretary of Defense for George W. Bush and then Barack Obama. During the Obama years, you attend high-level discussions at which you hear the nation’s leaders say some things that shock you, things that show the national interest is disregarded, as never before in your long experience, in favor of personal, political interest by the secretary of state and the president. Even things that threaten our soldiers’ lives and limbs.

In the last year of your tenure, the president reneges on promises he made to you regarding his support for your budget, thereby depriving the troops of weapons and of support for the wounded. And he speeds up the withdrawal from Afghanistan over your violent objections, breaking another commitment.

You’ve been around government all your life. You know that politics often trumps policy. Indeed, you were once humiliated and rejected as a nominee to head the CIA after you were accused of “politicizing intelligence.” But some of the things you hear disturb you more than anything you’ve heard in the past. Hillary and Obama say they supported the Iraqi surge for purely political reasons. And Obama “gives orders,” rather than just making decisions; he doesn’t understand how civilian control of the military works.

The president’s national security staff — at a record 350 slots (seven times the number under the elder Bush) — constantly meddles and tries to micromanage the two wars in which we’re engaged. At one point you have to tell the national security advisor that he’s not in the chain of command and that you will take your instructions from the president alone.

On the other hand, for all his faults, Obama’s actual policy decisions are generally what you want, and when there are disagreements, you sometimes come around to his judgment. He approves an Afghan surge — the very idea of which had not occurred to you (it came from General McChrystal’s analysis, which greatly surprised you but ultimately convinced you) — even though it rated to be politically unpopular, both with the Democrat base and with his own people inside the White House. To be sure, he announced there would be a full withdrawal of fighters in relatively short order, but that didn’t upset you. You later got angry when Obama lied to you about the withdrawal date, but you never thought anything great could be accomplished in Afghanistan anyway. You thought the best we could get was a fairly well-trained Afghan army, facing a Taliban-plus that we’d weakened. And maybe we could support some decent local governments.

And he did the bin Laden raid, which you initially opposed (you favored a drone strike) but then approved and admired.

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Exclusive: The Voice of Iranian Dissent

January 15th, 2014 - 6:19 pm

I’ve received what follows from Iran, via Banafsheh Zand, who has written at PJ Media on several occasions.  As you will see, it’s an open letter from one of the bravest men of our time, Heshmat Tabarzadi, a fighter for the freedom of the Iranian people who has repeatedly put his life on the line in that worthy cause.  Heshmat was one of the central figures in the Iranian student movement, and then joined the Green Movement that was cheated out of its electoral victory in 2009.  Along with other Green leaders, Heshmat was subsequently arrested, convicted by a “Revolutionary Tribunal,” and locked away.

As he writes, he was recently paroled halfway through his 8-year sentence.  I rather suspect that the regime hoped he would take the opportunity to flee the country, but he won’t do that.  Like the Green leaders Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karroubi, Heshmat is one of the most respected figures in contemporary Iran, and, so far at least, the regime prefers to keep them locked away rather than killing them, probably hoping they will die in prison.

Today, January 15th, they arrested him again and he is incarcerated.  It behooves any one who really cares about human rights to keep his name in front of the civilized world, to condemn his imprisonment, and to call for his release so that he can publicly and freely promote his cause, in which the civilized world purports to believe.

Moreover, like many prisoners of conscience before him, Heshmat reminds us that no reliable partnership can be forged with a regime that treats its citizens in such an appalling way, that treats a woman as worth half a man, and that has actually increased the tempo of executions since the elections of June, 2012, that brought the so-called “moderate” Hassan Rouhani to the presidency.

Read it all.  Carefully.  His is an important voice.  Would that our leaders paid careful attention to him and his brave words and actions.

Here is the text of his letter:

The major world powers namely 5+1 are trying hard to engage the government of Iran to join the rest of the international community, by taking advantage of the recent “Flexibilities” that have been shown by the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, and as implemented by President Hassan Rouhani.

Indeed, we have arrived at a significant and historic juncture. However, without a cautious and comprehensive effort moving forward, the road ahead towards a mutually beneficial and peaceful outcome will remain uncertain and elusive. Ever since the election of President Rouhani, the number of executions in Iran has nevertheless increased substantially (nearly 400 executions since he took office). Keeping in mind that Iran already held the second highest record of executions after China (1st in the world as a percentage of the population), this represents an urgent human rights crisis.

In addition, the Iranian government has hundreds of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, including those such as Mr. Mir Hussein Mousavi, Mrs. Zahra Rahnavard and Mr. Mehdi Karroubi, who have been under house arrest since 2010, without any legal or court proceedings. The majority of Iranian political prisoners are sentenced solely due to the exercise of their rights to express their opinion or for peaceful assembly.

The legitimacy of any ruling power is measured by its practice of observing and respecting the rights of its own people. In what follows, I briefly give an account of my personal experience living in Iran, which is not an isolated case. Hundreds of fellow Iranian political activists are experiencing a similar situation. Indeed, the lack of basic human rights and freedom in Iran reflects poorly on the prospect for the effective and peaceful resolution of the issues of the Iranian government with the international community. One cannot be addressed in the absence of the other.

My name is Heshmat Tabarzadi. I am an Iranian secular democrat human rights activist. I have been arrested several times on charges related to my activities, most recently after the green movement and the disputed election results of 2009. In October 2010, I was sentenced to eight years in prison, convicted of five charges of “insulting the Leader,” “insulting the President,” “propaganda against the system,” “gathering and colluding with intent to harm the state security,” and “disturbing public order.” I had already spent seven years of my life in prison, nearly three years of it in solitary confinement for my activities as a student leader. Additionally I have spent another 4 years of my latest verdict and still have four more years remaining. I have spent part of every year of my life in prison since 1999 and while imprisoned I have been tortured on several different occasions. Meanwhile my different publications have been shut down, I have been denied the right to peaceful participation in two secular democratic and human rights organizations, and I have been prohibited from any social activities for 10 years.

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