Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Fradkin on Ahmadinejad’s letter

While this piece by Hillel Fradkin covers some of the same ground discussed by Amir Taheri, Fradkin offers still more analysis, of which this is a sample:

The Muslim world, for its part, is rich with the opportunities created by great longing, great resentment, and great anger. Those longings (for a more glorious role for Islam) and those resentments (over the fallen estate of Islam) have been brewing for a long time. For those in the Muslim world moved by these sentiments, the attacks of September 11, 2001, offered the satisfaction of a victory and produced admiration for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

But Osama also promised further victories, that this was the beginning, not the end, of the new Islamic jihad. And in this he has not been successful, presumably because of the vigor of American and allied attacks on al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Even in Iraq, where al Qaeda under the direction of Abu Musab al Zarqawi keeps up the battle, it has not yet achieved its aim of driving American forces out and may not. Moreover, its engagement in Iraq has had liabilities for al Qaeda, which were the substance of al-Zawahiri’s letter of last summer. Al Qaeda as such may be in decline.

In these circumstances, Ahmadinejad has attempted to step into bin Laden’s place as the leader of the radical Islamic movement, as the man with the will and capacity to challenge and threaten the United States. Ahmadinejad has already enjoyed some success in parts of the Muslim world. This has been accompanied by the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and especially Palestine, where Hamas won control of the Palestinian Authority. This has permitted him to assert, as he does in his letter, that the forces of radical Islam--or, as he would have it, simply Islam--are on a roll. Ahmadinejad has bent every effort to support and join forces with Hamas and may well succeed. And, as always, he has Hezbollah in Lebanon at his disposal.

From all these developments, the radical movement has gained renewed confidence in the claim, first put forward by Osama bin Laden, that its adversaries, principally the United States, do not have the stomach for a long fight, or even a short one. Islam’s enemies can and will be pushed back and defeated by radical forces, because the latter, unlike their enemies, do not fear death and even welcome it. They can even, as Ahmadinejad recently said, accept the possibility of nuclear war as a necessity of the struggle. Altogether the spirits of the radical Islamic movement are high, and Ahmadinejad is the most powerful voice of that spirit.

Fradkin’s conclusion:

[W]hat is known, or what should be known and deeply grasped, is that everything Ahmadinejad--and for that matter the radical movement as a whole--does is guided by an ideological vision and commitment. It needs to be addressed as such. For the moment and not only for the moment, this requires that liberal democrats declare that they have no intention of abandoning their way of life and see no need to do so, since they are fully prepared to defend it and because that way of life provides the resources--political, economic, and military--to defend itself.

It is necessary to inform Ahmadinejad and his radical allies that they are in for a real fight. This may not suffice to lead them to question their fundamental assumption and inspiration that we are on the run. But it may give pause to the many Muslims and non-Muslims standing on the sidelines, who see radical success and do not see American or Western resolve.

Of course the best person to make the first such declaration is President Bush--not as a Christian but as the world’s leading liberal democrat. And not to Ahmadinejad, for whom a direct reply would be a victory, but to the Iranian people, the Muslim world, and the non-Muslim world.

Unlike GWB, who ultimately professes confidence in everyone’s innate longing to be free, Fradkin offers no such assurances. What is necessary, regardless of how one answers the question regarding the universal attractiveness of liberal democracy, is resoluteness in its defense. The expression of resoluteness (at which GWB has been quite good, as have others in the Anglosphere) is, however, only a beginning. The words and deeds have to be sustained. For a long time.

Hat tip: Powerline, which also calls our attention to this piece by Amir Taheri, which insists upon the (still disputed) authenticity of Iranian laws requiring non-Muslims to wear distinctive badges.

Discussions - 8 Comments

You really should read Raymond Ibrahim’s essay and VDH’s site.
Mike Daley

What Would Mohammad Do?

Powerline, which also calls our attention to this piece by Amir Taheri, which insists upon the (still disputed) authenticity of Iranian laws requiring non-Muslims to wear distinctive badges.

You guys were quick off the mark spreading the latest "look they really are the Nazis!" slur. I guarantee this drivel will be quoted on right wing blogs as fact for the next 5 years.

Golly, Iran has a jewish MP, who knew? Maybe this "black ops" slur will have a positive effect.

You can’t trust those right wing lunatic blogs like Power Line, when they say such outragous, obviously biased, black ops things as Taheri’s description of the law’s separate dress codes for religious minorities has been denied by Iranian authorities, and the status of the dress code is uncertain.

Oh, wait. That seems to be fair and balanced. Never mind.

Brian, I believe the Weimar Republic had Jews in government before the Nazi takeover. Perhaps we are seeing the same transformation here...certainly the Iranian mullahs are whipping up their people in the same Hitleresque fashion, and of course you always have to have a subject for your hatred (ala Orwell). We Jews and Crusaders will do just fine...powerful, non-Muslim, materialistic.

sure Brian, one incorrect report all but cancels out the fact that the Iranian state has used its religious police to persecute women for not veiling enough, executes political dissidents, tortures labor union leaders, breaks up peaceful strikes with violent force, has threatened to elimnate Israel with a nuclear strike, has presecuted its Zoroastrian minorities, enforces the death penalty for converting from Islam, and still practices most of the barbarisms of sharia law. With a record like that, you’d have to smear Iran with "black ops" right?

I think it is safer to say that Iran’s latest attempt to further subjugate women with a barbaric legal dress code was misunderstood to also include the persecution of other hated minority groups. I do not notice any of our pre-emptive dhimmis admitting to that when they seize upon the fact that this particular report was incorrect.

I guarantee this drivel will be quoted on right wing blogs as fact for the next 5 years.

I take it back, looks like the scale of the rebuttal has rolled back the waves of blogsh*t. Even powerline ... WOW!!I’m underwhelmed, but pleased.

I change my prediction to this. For the next 18 months, 3 in any random group of 10 Americans will insist this is absolute fact. Try it out in a few weeks and let me know the results.

I was surprised after I read the letter that the Bush administration simply blew it off. From what I heard it was simply a fanatical rant, but it is a coherent- albeit deranged- piece of work. It’s one thing to blow off the American media, but to let a letter like this go unanswered is why we’re having trouble "winning hearts and minds" across the Muslim world. We need to assuage their fears about Westernization and crank out the freedom propaganda, but, as the article recommends, we need also to make them understand that if they plan to harm us they will regret it.

Mr. Knippenberg, your Powerline pals have once again dropped the ball, or is it that they latched onto it and now refuse to let it go, facts and reality and such be damned? The National Post, which originally ran the piece has now admitted that it was false, and apologized. Not that this will stop the truth-seekers at Powerline from insisting that it’s still true, but here goes:

"’It is now clear the story is not true,’ Douglas Kelly, the National Post’s editor in chief, wrote in a long editorial on Page 2. ’We apologize for the mistake and for the consternation it has caused not just National Post readers, but the broader public who read the story.’"

I understand that you just tossed this on as an addendum of sorts, with a passing hat tip to Powerline, but when these issues get resolved it seems to me that pointing out their resolution is the responsible thing to do, even if Powerline won’t do it...

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