THE PASDARAN'S FAVORITE PUNDIT

Michael Ledeen tries punching above his weight:

"[Seymour] Hersh has been announcing the imminent bombing of Iranian nuclear sites for many months, and has now changed the lyrics to that chant. He now says that there’s been a change in program: we’re going to bomb military targets, Revolutionary Guards bases, and so forth. As usual, his sources range from the unnamed to the unreliable. He relies on Vincent Cannistraro, who has lied about me among his other inventions, and on Vali Nasr, who rarely sees anything to criticize in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The quality of Nasr’s analysis emerges in an amazing statement that Hersh quotes with favor:

"It’s clear that the United States cannot bring security to Iraq, because it is not doing everything necessary to bring stability. If they did, they would talk to anybody to achieve it—even Iran and Syria,” Nasr said. (Such engagement was a major recommendation of the Iraq Study Group.) “America cannot bring stability in Iraq by fighting Iran in Iraq."

Apparently, despite all the public announcements, press conferences, photo ops, and the like, we really aren’t talking to the mullahs at all."

Well, no, we're not "talking to the mullahs" as much as presenting them with a list of demands. This, of course, is what passes for diplomacy in Pajamastan.

But more to the point, I've read much of Vali Nasr's work. I've also read Michael Ledeen's "work." The very idea of Michael Ledeen, of all people, criticizing "the quality of Nasr's analysis" is hilarious. Nasr has produced what is widely acknowledged as some of the best work available on Iran, and on sectarianism in modern Middle Eastern politics. Moreover, Nasr's ideas on the significance, dimensions, and differences of Shia identity in Iraq and Iran have largely been vindicated by actual events.

Ledeen, on the other hand, consistently paints a picture of Iran that is so bizarre that I wonder sometimes whether he's being fed disinformation by the Pasdaran, just so they can laugh uproariously when they read it later on. Here's Ledeen from last year:

"Islam is very unpopular in Iran nowadays, but Zoroastrianism is surging."

I'll bet they were howling about that one in Tehran. I don't think I really need to go on, other than to note that Ledeen's attempt to belittle Nasr is symptomatic of the neocon dementia, in which anyone, regardless of their background, regardless of their credentials, regardless of their demonstrated expertise, who proposes anything less than outright confrontation of the enemy of the moment is to be dismissed, when not condemned as an apologist for the enemy.

--Matthew Duss

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