The Washington Independent’s Dave Weigel has a great article up on how conservatives who had previously scoffed at the idea that Iran’s elections had any meaning while praying for an Ahmadinejad victory are now casting about for a plausible position in regard to Iran’s reform movement and the growing legitimacy crisis.
The article also quotes neocon Michael Ledeen smearing Iran scholar and president of the National Iranian American Council Trita Parsi, whose knowledge of Iran and work on NIAC’s blog has been an invaluable resource over the last week. Ledeen says Parsi “is not a human rights activist…He’s a leading apologist for the regime.”
Leaving aside why we should take seriously the human rights views of someone whose eponymous “doctrine” was transmitted by acolyte Jonah Goldberg as: “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business,” this isn’t the first time Ledeen has slandered an genuine Iranian human rights activist who disagreed with his cracked theories. In his book The Iranian Time Bomb, Ledeen discussed the case of Iranian activist Akhbar Ganji, and suggested that Ganji’s opposition to the Bush administration’s threats against the Iranian regime were the result of Ganji’s having been broken by Iranian torturers:
The Ganji who had been brought back from the edge of death was no longer the forceful campaigner who had demanded that the regime submit to the people’s will…Indeed the regime sent him on a Western tour where he spent most of his time denouncing American pressure on the mullahs.
The Iranian torturers do their work well; Ganji is not the first dissident to decide not to sacrifice his own life, or those of his family and friends, in a desperate gesture of independence.
As this subsequent interview with Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman shows, Ganji remained a strong critic of the Iranian government. But, simply by virtue of criticizing George W. Bush’s foreign policy and disagreeing with Ledeen’s ideas about regime change, Ganji and Parsi are treated by Ledeen as dupes of the regime. Ledeen simply can’t countenance the idea that the reason that actual Iranian human rights activists (as well as most other people in the world) disagree with the neoconservative policy of bringing democracy to the Middle East at the point of an American gun is because it’s an irretrievably stupid policy, one that has done about as much as Iran’s hardliners could have hoped to justify and strengthen their hold on power.