The Failed Frontal Assault of Fareed Zakaria

by DR. MICHAEL LEDEEN June 24, 2010
Now comes Fareed Zakaria to denounce the “fantasy” of an Iranian revolution.  His main target is Sen. John McCain, but while he’s at it Zakaria unloads on Reuel Gerecht, Bret Stephens, and “the neoconservatives.”  He is so pessimistic about the prospects for the Green Movement that he is willing to entertain the possibility that Ahmadinejad actually won the phony elections of June 12, 2009, and he rejects the very idea that the Greens represent the majority of the Iranian people.
He isn’t very convincing. Indeed, Zakaria’s tirade isn’t even supported by his own evidence. He cites Mr. Akbar Ganji, who was recently honored by Zakaria and others at the Cato Institute in Washington, as an authoritative voice on things Iranian.  Which is a bit peculiar, since Ganji disagrees with him:
Iran is the only country in the region that if fair, free, and competitive elections were held today, democratic forces that believe in the separation of religion from the state would be victorious.
Which would seem to effectively demolish Zakaria’s claim that the Iranian government speaks for the majority of the people. Zakaria goes on to argue that there will be no revolution in Iran in the near future, and that any comparison with the likes of the “velvet revolutions of Eastern Europe” is just plain wrong, because, while the Europeans had nationalism, religion, and democracy on their side, the Iranian Greens only have democracy.
Does he not know that leading ayatollahs are in open revolt against the Iranian regime? Does he not know that even many Grand Ayatollahs — yesterday the late Ayatollah Montazeri, today Ayatollahs Boroujerdi and Sane’i — are vilified by the regime? Does he not know that the leaders of the opposition speak in the name of Islam?
Apparently not.
Zakaria isn’t very careful with the targets of his scorn, either.  He seems to think that those of us who support democratic revolution in Iran want to bomb the place, or at least strangle it with sanctions.  “…Those hoping to liberate Iranians are the same people urging punitive sanctions and even military force against Iran.” But this, too, is false.  I have always opposed the use of military force against Iran, and Sen. McCain was very clear that he wanted America’s moral power, not our armed forces, deployed in support of the Iranian revolution.
Pathetic. Contributing Editor Dr. Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is also a contributing editor at National Review Online. Previously, he served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Defense Department. He has also served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State. The author of more than 20 books, Dr. Ledeen regularly appears on Fox News, and on a variety of radio talk shows. He regularly contributes to the Wall Street Journal and to National Review Online. He has a blog on

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