The best is by Roya Hakakian, appearing in the Wall Street Journal. She gets it correct, saying right at the start that what the Leveretts present is not a policy argument, but “a long and elaborate promotional brochure designed to sell Americans on the mullahs and their nuclear program.” They “dismiss as lies or misunderstandings,” she writes, “everything that would get in the way of such a trip [to Tehran by Obama]: the mullahs’ congenital hostility toward the U.S., their eliminationist rhetoric toward Israel, their illicit nuclear ambitions and terrorist activities, their brutality toward Iran’s women, minorities and dissidents — it’s all America’s fault, anyway.”
So kudos are due to Ms. Hakakian, who knocks apart all of their lies and fables. That these two people, Hillary Mann Leverett and Flynt Leverett, were once on our government’s National Security Council is indeed more than shocking. It is a disgrace.
As Ms. Hakakian notes, the two authors deny that Iran ever committed or supported terrorism, used suicide bombers, or did anything that interferes with their phony narrative.
The other review is by Laura Secor, and appears in this Sunday’s New York Times. As we have become used to from writers for this paper, Ms. Secor starts by letting its readers know that she too is no fan of U.S. policy. As she writes: “We make little sense of history, and less progress toward resolving our conflicts, when we demonize our adversary and ascribe to him dark motives and irrational thoughts.” Why would anyone do that when writing about the regime of the mullahs? Why would anyone dare to think that Ayatollah Khamenei or Iran’s chief executive, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would harbor irrational thoughts? How silly of us!
Ms. Secor seems at first to agree with the Leveretts that “American policy must not be blinded by sentimentality about Iranian human rights and democratic aspirations” — in other words, we must be “realist” and take Iran as it is, not as what we wish it to be.
Having established her bona fides for NYT readers, she proceeds to knock the Leveretts for writing not a realist book, but one “partisan” to the Iranian government. As she puts it: “Rather than delivering a corrective to the one-sided view from Washington, they deliver its mirror image.”
She continues to show that the Leveretts are indeed propagandists for the regime. They even accept that the video of the young woman killed by sniper fire in the 2009 widespread protests “was actually shot by provocateurs in a deliberate effort to frame the Iranian security forces and fan rebellion.” Their view is that any dissent is “marginal,” and that the regime has the support of the Iranian people.
Again, this is precisely what the Old Left consistently argued about world Communism and claimed whenever evidence was presented that made clear the people’s opposition of communism. Those of us from an older generation remember well how the Old and New Left responded whenever the people in Eastern Europe rebelled against Stalinist repression in countries like Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Ms. Secor writes:
Following the 2009 election, Iran’s government sent militias into the streets to beat demonstrators; it arrested reformist political figures en masse, beginning on election day before the polls were closed; it placed them on show trials with confessions clearly obtained under duress; it banned reformist political parties and continues to hold journalists, former government ministers and human rights lawyers in prison. Even if most Iranians truly did support these actions, it’s not at all clear that Western analysts should be in the business of justifying them. Nowhere do the Leveretts take account of the role physical intimidation, imprisonment and censorship have played in silencing critics of the Iranian regime. But they ascribe the ensuing silence to consent.
Like the old Soviet Union, we again have show trials, forced confessions, no free political parties, and dissidents and others in prison. And like the old days, we have journalists and writers devoted to gathering U.S. support for tyranny — this time not one whose leaders claim to be creating a new socialist man, but leaders seeking to create an Islamic state that would bring the world back to the Middle Ages.