By Daniel Luban
On Tuesday, Danielle Pletka and Ali Alfoneh of AEI published a New York Times op-ed claiming that the real and unnoticed story of the Iranian elections is that the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have “effected a silent coup d’etat” overthrowing the clerics. Pletka and Alfoneh (a frequent collaborator of AEI’s Michael Rubin and Frederick Kagan, who have been spearheading the think tank’s anti-Iran campaign) took a notably dim view of the protesters’ prospects, arguing that “the uprising is little more than a symbolic protest” that has been crushed by the IRGC.
But on Wednesday, Michael Ledeen lashed out at Pletka and Alfoneh, calling their op-ed “embarassingly silly”. Ledeen argues that far from being ineffectual, the protesters are actually on the verge of toppling the Islamic Republic, and that the IRGC and clerics are united against them. (This is in line with Ledeen’s longstanding view that the secular-minded and pro-American Iranian populace despises the Islamic Republic and is simply waiting for American aid to rise up and overthrow it.)
Regardless of the issues at stake, it is quite striking to see neocons go after their own in such harsh language. We suspect that Ledeen’s bellicosity may have less to do with his actual policy disagreements with Pletka and Alfoneh, and more to do with the fact that Pletka is rumored to have purged Ledeen and others from AEI last year, necessitating his move to his current perch at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.