Politics & Policy

Vick Sticks with His Story

The mullah spin.

If you want to know what the mullahs want you to think, just read the “reporting” by the Washington Post’s own Karl Vick, who Wednesday shared a byline with Dafna Linzer from Tehran to announce nothing less than “a profound change in Iran’s political orthodoxy.” You may have thought that Iranian clerical fascism was not subject to such dramatic transformation, but Vick, the consensus candidate for the Walter Duranty Prize awarded to apologists for tyrants, believes otherwise. And what is the evidence? The Iranians are calling for direct talks with the United States on the mullahs’ project to go nuclear.

Vick and Linzer would have you believe that this proposal “(erases) a taboo against contact with Washington that has both defined and confined Tehran’s public foreign policy for more than a quarter-century…”

Notice that little word “public.” Because, in fact, the mullahs have been chatting with the Great Satan throughout the history of the Islamic Republic, even during the Bush administration. Just ask Richard Haass, the former head of policy planning at the State Department, who organized several such conversations. Or ask George Tenet, who sent some of his spooks to talk to the Iranians. As for earlier periods, you can ask me about the talks with senior ayatollahs in which I was engaged in the mid-1980s. Or call up Robert McFarlane, who went to Tehran to talk to regime officials in 1986. It’s an old story, and the mullahs and their mouthpieces down on 15th Street know it, so they had to sneak in that “public.”

But it isn’t even true to say that Iran has not called for, or engaged in, “public” talks with us. There were innumerable talks, quite public ones, about the future of Afghanistan following the decimation of the Taliban regime, and of late the Iranian regime eagerly accepted–albeit with all kinds of provisos–the American suggestion that the two countries talk about the future of Iraq.

Profound change? Pfui.

The announcement, via the Post, is a fairly transparent tactical maneuver, and Post readers would recognize it as such if Vick and Linzer bothered to report the news from Iran, which is that there are demonstrations all over the country, and that the regime continues its cruel iron-fisted policy toward the Iranian people.

‐A few days ago, following the publication of an offensive cartoon (equating the Azeri people with cockroaches) in the state-run Iran newspaper, there were huge demonstrations in Tabriz. According to one eyewitness account there were more than three hundred thousand demonstrators. There were numerous casualties on both sides. The regime is busing in thousands of pro-regime demonstrators today in an attempt to show popular support for the mullahcracy;

‐Last month, in reprisal for the killing of 12 regime officials, North Balochistan was bombed by government planes, and hundreds of presumed activists were rounded up, continuing a pattern of systematic repression that has been going on for many years;

‐In the last few days there were big demonstrations on college campuses all over the country, and the regime responded with force. The demonstrations were at least in part in response to new restrictions on political activity at the universities;

‐A week ago, 54 Bahais, engaged in humanitarian activities in Shiraz, were arrested and jailed, hard on the heels of raids on six Bahai homes, and more than a year of “revolving door” detentions, often with no pretext of legal justification.

All these demonstrations have proximate causes, but all are aimed at an end to the regime, and a transition to democracy, as the chants and placards of the demonstrators demonstrate without question. And the demonstrations are taking place against a background of an ever more aggressive opposition movement. In late April, the Islamist prosecutor in Shadgan was shot by a masked commando. Attacks against government facilities in Ahwaz–in the heart of the oil-producing region–have been ongoing. Two militiamen were assassinated in Shiraz in late April. And you can be sure that many other such actions have been taken, but have gone unreported.

In other words, despite the mounting repression, Iranians of all ethnic backgrounds take advantage of local issues to demand regime change. But this picture is lacking from publications like the Post, even though it goes a long way to explain the mullahs’ disinformation campaign suggesting “profound change” in its dark heart. For the mullahs’ greatest fear is that they will be overthrown by the Iranian people, and they know that the peoples’ greatest hope is that the United States will support them. The mullahs must therefore “prove” to the Iranian people that there is no hope the United States will rally to the cause of Iranian freedom, and the easiest way to do that is to trick the Bush administration into an ongoing dialogue. “You see?” the mullahs will say to the people, “the Americans recognize our legitimacy, they are not calling for our removal, on the contrary they are negotiating with us.”

It was most welcome, therefore, that Tony Snow announced that there would be no such negotiations with the mullahs. Would that the proposed talks with Iran about Iraq were similarly scrubbed.

Indeed, we have nothing to negotiate with them. For they relentlessly wage war against us, whatever they may whisper in Karl Vick’s gullible ear. As Iraq the Model reported the other day, Iranian Revolutionary Guards are supplying Zarqawi’s killers in Iraq with Russian anti-aircraft missiles. The supply route runs through the bloody hands of Hezbollah, arranged at a meeting in Damascus a month or so ago, when Imad Mughniyah, the operational chief of Hezbollah, sneaked into town as part of Ahmadinejad’s delegation.

And if you really want to understand the depth of Iranian hatred for those who challenge them, and the patience they show in carrying out their revenge, consider the amazing information that was published by the London Sunday Times in early April: “Iraqi pilots who flew in Saddam Hussein’s air force are being targeted by armed militias in an apparent witch-hunt against veterans who fought in the war against Iran two decades ago.” The Times said that 182 former pilots and 416 senior military officers had been killed by the beginning of 2006, and more than 800 such people had fled Iraq.

Such a regime does not undergo profound change. It just continues to kill all who challenge them.

Forget negotiating, and boycott the Post.

 

Michael Ledeen, an NRO contributing editor, is most recently the author of The War Against the Terror Masters. He is resident scholar in the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Michael LedeenMichael Ledeen is an American historian, philosopher, foreign-policy analyst, and writer. He is a former consultant to the National Security Council, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense. ...

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