AEI to Roll Out “The Iranian Time Bomb” Sep 10

Just four days after the American Enterprise Institute will launch its September 6 “All or Nothing” campaign to save the Surge, it will debut “Freedom Scholar” Michael Ledeen’s forthcoming book, “The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots’ Quest for Destruction” (St. Martin’s Press), a rehash of neo-con arguments for “regime change” – by military force, if necessary – in Tehran. Judging by the excerpts that have been released to date, Ledeen’s latest tract will be entirely predictable, although, in addition to emphasizing, as he has for much of the last several years, the urgent need to support and fund the regime’s domestic opposition, he concludes that “[t]his presidential administration or the next will likely face a terrible choice: appease a nuclear Iran, or bomb it before their atomic weapons are ready to go. While a sad exclamation point at the end of nearly thirty years of failed policy, confrontation may be virtually inescapable. Like other ideological wars of the twentieth century, this war will likely only end when one side has lost.”

Joining Ledeen at the afternoon panel will be former CIA director James Woolsey, the long-time Iran hawk who still believes Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda were tight and no doubt agrees with Ledeen’s analysis that Iran and al Qaeda have been even tighter, and – this is most interesting – ret. Gen. Jack Keane, one of the architects, along with Fred Kagan and other AEI scholars, of the Surge. Perhaps Keane is being brought in in order to echo the recent crescendo of charges regarding Iran’s alleged supply of explosively formed projectiles (EFPs) to Shi’a militias, but I will be interested to see whether he promotes the increasingly fashionable idea among hawks in and outside the administration in favor of cross-border raids into Iran, something that the Pentagon, I am told, is definitely against. Keane, of course, is regarded as close to Gen. David Petraeus, and whatever he says on the subject of Iran should be listened to closely for evidence if a widening split between the Joint Chiefs, on the one hand, and Petraeus, the neo-cons’ Caesar, on the other.

The chronological juxtaposition of the Surge panel September 6 and the roll-out of Ledeen’s book September 10 underlines the balance that AEI and other hawks (including the vice president’s office) are trying to achieve between their two top priorities at the moment – sustaining the Surge well into next year and rallying Congress and the public behind an attack on Iran before the end of Bush’s term, if by then “diplomacy” does not achieve the desired results of 1) freezing its nuclear program and/or 2) halting Tehran’s support for its Shi’a allies (including the Maliki government) in Iraq. To their dismay, they have been forced to spend far more time, effort, and, above all, ink, on defending the Surge over the past eight months than on laying the groundwork for an attack on Iran, although they are showing signs in recent days of trying hard to make up the difference. If it becomes clear by late September or early October that Democrats and uneasy Republicans will indeed acquiesce in the continuation of the Surge at least until next spring (when troop numbers will almost certainly have to be reduced anyway), I think it’s very likely we will see a much bigger focus by AEI and the neo-cons, as well as their allies within the administration, on Iran and the necessity of a military confrontation before Bush leaves.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that AEI continues to go great guns on the Iran-divestment front, although its vice president of foreign and defense policy studies, Danielle Pletka, has an interesting op-ed on the subject in Tuesday’s Washington Post. While the column helps explain her somewhat surprising comment to the Financial Times earlier this month about the possible “serious repercussions for our multilateral effort” if Congress added sanctions to the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA), it also appeared to contain a number of contradictions. While, on the one hand, Pletka suggests that additional ISA sanctions risked alienating the European Union just when it is ‘’doing more to withdraw support from the Iranian economy,” she lauds pending measures both in Congress and a growing number of state legislatures that would either encourage or compel pension funds and other institutional investors to divest their holdings in companies that do business with Iran. Why Europeans would be offended by ISA’s expansion and not similarly offended by the divestment movement, she fails to explain. (The EU has been actively lobbying on Capitol Hill against the divestment-related legislation for at least two months. Her failure to address this distinction between the ISA and the divestment legislation is particularly notable in light of another column published by the Washington Times and National Review this week by her new AEI colleague, Michael Barone. His op-ed, “Divest Iran,” points that the “(f)irms that do the most business in Iran” – and hence will presumably be hit hardest by a successful divestment campaign – are European, as well as Asian and Russian. I just don’t understand the logic underlying Pletka’s column. Perhaps someone can explain it to me.

Jim Lobe

Jim Lobe served for some 30 years as the Washington DC bureau chief for Inter Press Service and is best known for his coverage of U.S. foreign policy and the influence of the neoconservative movement.



  1. you no doubt meant to indicate “Iran” in paragraph three:

    …the Surge well into next year and rallying Congress and the public behind an attack on Iraq before the end of Bush’s term,

    [Editors note: Thanks!]

  2. Thanks to Jim Lobe for yet another incisive analysis, this one a disturbing anticipation of the calculated campaign to rally support for yet another war of choice. There is as much coherence and cogency in Pletka’s Iran divestment position, it seems, as there is in Bush’s recent pronouncement before the VFW that the lessons of Vietnam warrant staying the course in Iraq.

    One inadvertent error in the third paragraph merits editing, however. In the fourth line, Mr. Lobe writes Iraq instead of Iran: “. . . AEI and other hawks (including the vice president’s office) are trying to achieve between their two top priorities at the moment – sustaining the Surge well into next year and rallying Congress and the public behind an attack on Iraq [sic] before the end of Bush’s term . . . .”

  3. The neocons put Israel interests ahead of American interests and definitely ahead of the lives of members of the American military.
    When is the rest of America going to wake up to this fact? If they do, when are they going to do something about it?

  4. Its laughable that the AEI call Ledeen a ‘scholar’. I mean he can’t even get elementary facts straight. In the excerpt linked to above he states:

    “Shortly after the revolution, in November 1979, Iranian-supported “pilgrims” on the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, occupied the Grand Mosque, took several hundred hostages, and called for the overthrow of the ruling Saudi family.”

    Of course this actually took place in July 1987, if we are to believe

    “In July 1987, however, more than 400 people died as a result of a serious riot instigated by thousands of Iranian pilgrims. Khomeini called for the overthrow of the Saudi royal family to avenge the pilgrims’ deaths.”

    In fact 402 people, mostly Iranian pilgrims, were killed and 649 wounded when security forces clashed with Iranians staging an anti- U.S. demonstration.

    The November 20, 1979 incident had nothing to do with Iran. According to “at least 500 dissidents invaded and seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca on November 20, 1979. The leader of the dissidents, Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Utaiba, a Sunni, was from one of the foremost families of Najd. ( ) His grandfather had ridden with Abd al Aziz in the early decades of the century, and other family members were among the foremost of the Ikhwan. Juhaiman said that his justification was that the Al Saud had lost its legitimacy through corruption, ostentation, and mindless imitation of the West–virtually an echo of his grandfather’s charge in 1921 against Abd al Aziz. Juhaiman’s accusations against the Saudi monarchy closely resembled Ayatollah Ruhollah Musaui, Khomeini’s diatribes against the shah.”

    So the ‘scholar’ manages to interpret the resemblance of Abd al Aziz. Juhaiman’s accusations to the Ayatollah Khomeini’s diatribes against the shah as being proof that the “”pilgrms” were “Iranian-supported”.

    It would be laughable if it wasn’t criminal.

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