I admit it, I was wrong. I didn’t think it was possible to find a conservative whose Iran analysis is dumber than Michael Ledeen’s. But the Washington Times has done it, offering its semi-valuable op-ed real estate this morning to one Roger Chapin, who argues that America’s “only rational course of action [is to] launch a massive series of preemptive strikes on Iran as soon as possible and send in special ops forces to ensure the mission was accomplished.”
I won’t go too much into Chapin’s reasoning here, except to say that he thinks Ahmadinejad runs Iran, he thinks Russia intends to foment nuclear apocalypse in the Middle East to drive up oil prices, and he fears a Iranian electro-magnetic pulse attack on America that Iran has shown no capacity to deliver. And:
For those that wonder why Iran would invite its own obliteration by attacking the United Sates, understand that the apocalyptic, messianically driven mentality of their leadership views martyrdom as a reward and not a deterrent.
This claim, a common trope of the conservative discourse on Iran, is the rhetorical equivalent of putting on a red clown nose and rainbow afro wig. There are no actual Iran scholars that I’m aware of who find the “suicidal Iran” thesis to be credible. The Iranian regime has had numerous opportunities to commit suicide over the past decades, but has repeatedly behaved according to a rational strategic calculation of its interests.
So Roger Chapin doesn’t know much about Iran. He does, however, apparently know a lot about founding veterans charities and then scamming those charities for lots of money. An investigation last year found that Chapin’s charities — which include the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes and Help Hospitalized Veterans — “raised more than $168 million from 2004 to 2006, but spent only a pittance — about 25 percent — to help veterans.”
The rest, nearly $125 million, went to fund-raising, administrative expenses, fat salaries and perks. Mr. Chapin gave himself and his wife $1.5 million in salary, bonuses and pension contributions over those three years, including more than $560,000 in 2006. The charities also reimbursed the Chapins more than $340,000 for meals, hotels, entertainment and other expenses, and paid for a $440,000 condominium and a $17,000 golf-club membership.
Chapin’s bio in the Washington Times op-ed states that he is the “founder and president of Make America Safe, a new San Diego-based policy and educational organization focused on the threat posed by radical Islamics [sic] to U.S. national security.” We’ll wait and see how many new condos, steak dinners and golf-club memberships making America safe requires.