After printing a series of false accusations against me, the popular and authoritative Iranian web site, Baztab, has done two things of note. First, it published my response in full, and displayed it prominently on their web page. Second, they replied to me in a very different tone. They dropped their earlier accusations–on my sources and my presumed ties to Iranian groups here in America–and shifted to the question of relations between the United States and Iran. The key paragraph is this:
Closing eyes to the obvious reality that Iran has a system that enjoys nationwide support…with massive political, economic, cultural and military power, that it has deep and extensive influence in the region, that it is firmly consolidated and that it cannot be brought down to its knees through sanctions or military attack, has made some circles in the United States to go for a confrontational policy toward Iran. there is no doubt, however, that such a policy would bring down the US from its standing as a super power once it gets a militaristic nature.
In other words, we’re the big kids on this block, our people love us, this regime won’t be brought down by sanctions or bombs, and you’d best come to terms with the regime if you want to maintain your status as a superpower. Baztab does not echo the constant refrain of Ahmadi-Nezhad and Khamenei, that Iran is hell-bent on destroying America; it is rather of the Baker-Hamilton-Biden-Pelosi persuasion: Why can’t we just work this out together?
The answer is simple enough. We can’t work this out because the Islamic Republic has declared war on us, not the other way around. Iranian agents and Iranian weapons are killing Americans. Until a few weeks ago, American soldiers were not even authorized to kill Iranian military personnel in Iraq, let alone cross the border to attack Iranian terrorist training camps or industrial facilities where shaped explosives are put together.
The good folks at Baztab surely know what every Iranian knows: that if there were free elections in Iran, the entire regime would be replaced with a free government, and the new leaders would terminate support for terrorism, redirect the oil revenues to national reconstruction, and join the civilized world. I oppose military action against Iran, as well as sanctions–aside from those specifically aimed at the kleptocrats who have ruined the country and pauperized the people. I support freedom for Iran.
In addition to its sweet reasonableness to me–which reflects the views of many regime leaders that they’d better stop provoking Bush, lest the United States finally develops a serious Iran policy. Ergo, they’re launching a charm offensive–Baztab has been critical of some of Ahmadi-Nezhad’s policies, and has now joined the ranks of hundreds of other publications to be censored by the regime. It is now an officially banned website.
Pity. But that’s what happens when you pretend to be free in the tyrannical Islamic Republic. Many of their countrymen and women have given their limbs and lives for freedom, and the guys at Baztab have fallen into the crossfire that characterizes the War of the Persian Succession.
They’re welcome to come to the American Enterprise Institute and have a wide open debate. Assuming they’re free to travel, of course.