As Protests in Iran Spread, Americans Continue to Misunderstand the Country

In the past several days, protests in Iran have grown in size and intensity, with crowds now chanting “Death to Palestine!” (an alternative to the usual “Death to Israel!”) and even “Death to the Dictator!” (in reference to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei). Meanwhile, writes Amir Taheri, there remain many Americans in positions of influence who refuse to believe the Islamic Republic is a brutal dictatorship and thereby perpetuate false alternatives for dealing with it:

The pro-Khomeinist chorus builds its case on [the] notion [that] in dealing with the Islamic Republic, the choice is only between surrendering to its every whim or total military invasion. In her latest book, Fascism: A Warning, the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright reduces policy on Iran to a simple question: “Do we want to repeat the adventure in Iraq?” . . . Ben Rhodes, a former national-security assistant to President Barack Obama, [sees] Iran . . . as a model for the Middle East. . . .

Successive American presidents have worked hard to persuade the Khomeinist regime in Tehran to modify aspects of its foreign policy, so far with no success. The reason may be the inability or unwillingness of successive U.S. presidents, and a good part of the American political and cultural elite, to . . . understand the nature of the Khomeinist regime.

Jimmy Carter believed the Khomeinist seizure of power represented the return of religion to the center of public life. Members of his administration described Khomeini as “a holy man” and “the Gandhi of Islam.” . . . President Bill Clinton saw the Khomeinist regime as “progressivist,” a view shared by many American liberals who think anti-Americanism is the surest sign of progressive beliefs. . . .

This regime has executed tens of thousands of Iranians, driven almost six million into exile, and deprived the nation of its basic freedoms. It has also killed more Americans, often through surrogates, than al-Qaeda did on 9/11. Not a single day has passed without this regime holding some Americans, and others, hostages. . . .

The same lobbyists [in the West who portray the ayatollahs as benign] discourage any attempt by the major powers to adopt a policy aimed at helping, persuading, and cajoling Iran into restoring its identity as a nation-state and behaving like one by closing the chapter of a revolution that has plunged Iran and a good chunk of the Middle East into conflict and uncertainty.

Read more at Asharq Al-Awsat

More about: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Iran, Jimmy Carter, Madeleine Albright, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7