Symposium: The Red Arabs

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In 1944, Gheorghe Dimitroff, president of the Comintern in Moscow, landed in Bulgaria on board a Soviet military plane, in order to lead the Bulgarian “national revolution.” On February 2, 1945, he and his “democratic revolutionaries” executed, without any trial, 3 regents, 22 ministers, 68 members of parliament, and 8 advisers to King Boris, after labeling them “enemies of the revolution.” During the following months, another 2,680 members of Bulgaria’s government were executed by the “democratic revolutionaries,” and 6,870 were imprisoned.

Washington was nonplussed. In the same manner, four other “democratic” leaders who had spent World War II in Moscow were dispatched to Eastern Europe to lead their own “national” revolutions: Walter Ulbricht to Germany; Matyas Rakosy to Hungary; Clement Gottwald to Czechoslovakia; Ana Pauker to Romania. Millions of people were killed, and many other millions perished in the “democratic” gulags subsequently created in those countries.

That was the beginning of the end for a democratic Eastern Europe—for a long while. Soon after that, the Kremlin installed a Communist government in China, and it expanded its reign over a third of the world.

President Truman learned his lesson. In 1950 he approved NSC 68/1950, a 58-page top-secret report of the U.S. National Security Council (declassified in 1975), which set forth the strategy of containment, and that became a significant weapon in the Cold War. The NSC described the situation in cataclysmic terms. “The issues that face us are momentous,” the document stated, “involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself.” [3]

We are now facing a similar cataclysmic situation, and we can only hope that President Obama will put together a contemporary version of NSC 68/1950. If not, the American voters will have to take the matter into their own hands and treat it the same way they recently handled the Democratic Party’s ill-conceived plans to redistribute our country’s wealth—the Democrats were booted out of positions that let them decide where to spend our money.

Americans are a proud people who love their country, and they will do everything in their power to defend it. They know that the peace and freedom of the world depend, as they have for the whole last century, upon the leadership of the United States.

Let’s make no mistake: If American leadership goes, so will world peace and stability.

FP: Thanks Mihai Pacepa.

So what should a contemporary version of NSC 68/1950 toward the Middle East say and do?

Pavel Stroilov?

Stroilov: As a matter of principle, Jamie, I don’t want to answer this question. A strategy of containment may be necessary after we have lost – and even then, I‘d prefer a counter-offensive. But I do not accept we have already lost. There has been a lot of news from the Middle East; some of it (alas, little) good news. The best, of course, is the revival of protests in Iran. The West must support this in every possible way, and support strongly. A change of regime in Iran would change everything in the region. But even the very fact that ‘the other Iran’ (to adapt a phrase from Russian politics) is seen to be alive and kicking has a huge significance. I agree with Michael: Iran is absolutely central to the whole regional revolution. If there is a major confrontation between the Iranian regime and the Iranian people, regimes and peoples across the region will have to take sides. And it would be very difficult now to manipulate, say, Egyptians to support a regime against the people, contrary to their own recent experience.

A crisis in Iran inevitably means a crisis of Islamism across the region: the Islamists will face a painful dilemma where they cannot defend Iran and cannot condemn it. Remember what happened to communists in the West whenever there was a crisis in the Soviet empire? So it is true to say that the future of the Middle East – nay, the world – is being decided now on the streets of Tehran.

Containment of the Islamic Caliphate may become a subject of some future symposium, which I hope will never need to happen. Now is time to think of attack, not defence.

Quite rightly, we look at the revolutions of the past to learn lessons for today’s Middle East. Let me sum up the historic parallels drawn in this symposium and elsewhere:

Russia 1917: the revolution begins as democratic, then goes increasingly socialist, and ends in coup where the best organised and most radical group captures power. Can Islamic Bolsheviks win in Egypt? There is certainly a high risk of that. Next in this scenario comes a long and bloody civil war, because the nation won’t just surrender its newly won freedom. Russian Whites lost because they were betrayed by the West. If it comes to an Egyptian civil war, the West ought to do better than that.

East Europe 1948 (an original and very perceptive parallel just drawn by Gen. Pacepa): a series of bogus revolutions across the region, orchestrated by Moscow and bringing the region under Moscow’s control. Indeed, there are signs that the Middle East revolutions may be coordinated. Each develops along a similar scenario. Each has this odd feature of having no leaders. The sequence is suspiciously logical, too: it starts in the least important country in the region (apologies to all Tunisians), then copied in the most important country (Egypt), and that sets the pace for the entire Arab world (or at least, its socialist part). Who, if anyone, is behind it all? The operation seems too massive for any of the usual suspects. Obviously, Iran is a big player, and I share Michael’s suspicions they may be in league with Moscow in this game (as we know they are in some others). But it does not look like they initiated this revolution, even though staging a dress rehearsal in an unimportant testing area at first has always been a KGB trademark. Who else? The Muslim Brotherhood Comintern? Perhaps… Gaddafi blames Al Qaeda, which sounds like cheap propaganda. Mubarak hinted at a Western conspiracy – I wish he was right, but… We badly need a credible conspiracy theory – has anybody got one?

Egypt 1952: a national-socialist military coup overthrows a pro-Western constitutional monarchy. Same place, but a totally misleading parallel. The Kingdom of Egypt was a British-style parliamentary system with free elections, free press, and a very corrupt political class (alas, democracies are also vulnerable to this disease). It was against the faults of democracy, not of tyranny, that Nasser and comrades rebelled. That was not a popular revolution – it was a Lenin-style coup by a small, conspiratorial, professional group, overthrowing a weak democracy to establish a totalitarian regime. What is happening today is the opposite of that – indeed, a counter-revolution to that.

Iran 1979: a revolution welcomed by the West as democratic, which quickly turned out to be Islamist. An obvious, likely, pessimistic scenario today. But there is more to it: for Moscow had been preparing that revolution for over 30 years – and then it was hijacked in an extraordinary twist of history. Major Vladimir Kuzichkin, the KGB man in Tehran in charge of the Soviet fifth column, secretly worked for MI6. He gave them all the names, all the threads; the British shared that with the Shah’s secret police; then its archives were captured by Islamists. With this information, the Islamists quickly rounded up their red allies, and hijacked the whole revolution. So I re-iterate my golden rule for revolutions: follow the secret archives. They can work miracles. It is important to know who started this revolution; it is more important to know who will hijack it. The archives are the key to that. If made public, they will work for democracy against the Islamists and Socialists. If either or both of the enemies get there first, God help us.

East Europe 1989: the most complicated scenario of all. Originally, it was planned as a bogus revolution, to pre-empt genuinely democratic ones. It went out of control; but it failed only partly. The worst trick were the so-called ‘roundtables’, whereby the regime could select the most convenient opponents to share power with in the transitional period. That corrupted the new democracies from the very start, and undermined the recovery enormously. But Michael is right: at least, few exceptions aside, it is still democracy and a recovery in East Europe. In the Middle East, it can be much worse – because the Red Arabs would reserve the ‘opposition’ side of their roundtables for the Islamists.

The common denominator of all these revolutions is this. Each time, there are some decent democratic forces present with greater or lesser chances of success. Each time, the West betrays them. Alas, this is likely to happen again, in this awfully typical 20th century scenario of replacing a Hitler with a Stalin or vice versa. This is likely; this is not inevitable. We should prepare for the worst. We should do all we can to prevent it.

Thank you Jamie for organizing this, and especially for the privilege of sharing the platform with so distinguished experts.

Ledeen: Thanks to everyone for their remarkable insights.  This conversation could easily be expanded into an invaluable little book.

I like Pavel’s question about conspiracy theories and our need for a new one.  As it happens, we have one:  the social media did it.  And who controls the social media?  The Iranian tyrants think they know:  the Jews, ergo the West (run by the Jews) plus the Zionist Entity (wall to wall Jews).

Funnily, the Iranian Green Movement knows that the West has abandoned the Iranian democratic revolution long since, so they have had to create their own conspiracy, or, if you prefer, their own network.  And reflect on this:  as the regime has become increasingly efficient at cutting off (modern) communications–from satellite broadcasts to email to Facebook and Twitter–the opposition is reverting to older forms of communications, frequently involving couriers.  And there is a military counterpart to this; I just read an article in the London Telegraph telling of the Chinese Army training a hundred thousand carrier pigeons for military coms in the event their computer-driven network gets fried during combat.

I don’t like to call the current turmoil “a revolution,” because as yet we have not seen structural change.  Not even in Tunisia.  So far “it” consists in the removal of a couple of leaders, demonstrations galore, and an internal war in Libya.  We’re a long way from revolution.  And since our governments aren’t very good at thinking about more than one problem at a time–let alone acting–nothing remotely approaching a strategy for “it” has been enunciated or started.  Meanwhile, the other actors in the region, like the Saudis, the Syrians and the Iranians, are very much engaged.  On the ground.  I am told that more than 25 top Iranian Quds Force officers are working out of the Iranian Embassy in Tripoli, for example, and you can be sure that the Saudis are assisting their friends in Egypt.

It’s a terrific opportunity for us.  We are the one truly successful revolutionary country in the world, and the Middle Easterners certainly know that well.  We could do a lot.  The big problem is our president.  Obama doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, and he rather thinks that we are a reactionary imperial power that has to be cut down to size.  Can he learn otherwise?  Doubtful.  Kissinger once said that top leaders leave government with the same culture they carried in, because there is no time for serious reappraisal of basic convictions.

Still, we are very close to seeing a major tectonic shift in Iran.  The regime is very frightened–as the arrests of Mousavi and Karroubi demonstrate–and the opposition is fighting back more and more.  These things are impossible to measure.  You have to be there to smell the odor of panic.  But the signs are there.  If Iran were to fall, the whole world would change.

But if you’re a betting man you’d bet that things will not work out well; that’s the historical pattern.  Machiavelli:  “Man is more inclined to do evil than to do good.”


FP: Words of wisdom Michael Ledeen. Nonie Darwish, your turn.

Darwish: I like Mr. Pacepa’s statement “to ignite ‘liberation revolutions’ within the Islamic world, and to turn them against the Kremlin’s main enemy, the United States.” The uprisings and revolutions going on today in Egypt, Libya and other Arab countries, appear wonderful at the surface. However, under the radar, there are other forces and motivations. Today’s Islamic revolutions are not, as in the old days, manipulated by the Kremlin, but by Islamism. Jihadists and Red Arabs have been working against Arab regimes for a long time and the true reason is not because Mubarak and others are dictators.

Muslim dictators are rejected by Islamists because they are standing in the way of Jihadist confrontations with not only Israel, but more importantly with the United States. Islamic jihad has been restrained and choked by Mubarak and some other Muslim leaders. As to the unstable Gaddafi, he has revealed fear and an inability to stand up to the U.S. when he surrendered his WMD after the Iraq war.

Today’s Islamists want to get rid of Arab dictators who no longer want to engage in jihad against the West and Israel. Jihadists feel they now have a golden opportunity in the political atmosphere in America today, especially with the Obama administration in office. They want to seize the moment. Many in the Muslim world believe that the Obama administration is on their side and too weak to act aggressively in the best interests of America. This opportunity might be very hard in two or six years under another administration. The moment is here for the Islamists, for they also have a growing assertive and very political and vocal Muslim minorities in the West, together with the existence of sleeper cells and home grown Islamic terrorists whose loyalty is dedicated to the Muslim world and its agenda.

In case of any future confrontations with an outside Islamist threat, America will have to deal at the same time with a fifth column: internal Islamic terrorism. The Muslim uprisings to overthrow dictators that we are seeing today is not just motivated by the brutality of the tyrants to some, but more importantly because these dictators are blocking the jihadist aspirations against America, Europe and Israel. Islamism and Red Arabs feel the time is ripe to confront the United States and they must act now.

There are factors within the US that are also inviting outside hostility, especially from Islamists. America is sharply divided against itself. The world today is no longer divided between Red/Totalitarian regime nations vs. free Western Capitalist nations. The Cold War divide of nations of East vs. West, tyranny vs. freedom, is not what the US is facing now. The divide now exists within nations. America might have won the Cold War, but that war has now been replaced with a war within the boundaries of America over the same philosophical values that divided the two superpowers in the Cold War.

The Cold War is now residing within America and its destructive dynamics are raging in full gear dividing Americans against each other rather than against what should be their mutual enemy: Islamism. The number one enemy of the Socialist Left in America, which denies there is any threat from Islamism, is the traditional Judeo/Christian culture of America and the American capitalist system as we know it. In this internal war going on in America today, Islam is the winner and the current revolutions in the Middle East are clearing the way for their dictators who are considered the stumbling block for jihad to be activated in full swing. Removing Mubarak and perhaps the Saudi regime will certainly expedite the pending confrontation with the West and Israel.

The uprisings in the Middle East are being done in the name of freedom and democracy, but what they will achieve is the new phase in American history of war on the outside and from within. The age of jihad and civil wars has begun.

Pacepa: What a great symposium. We seem to all be on the same wave length. I agree with Michael Ledeen that its substance deserves to be expanded in a book, and I hope he will write it.

We are certainly not dealing with Islamic “democratic revolutions.” The evidence shows that we are facing a military-ideological war carried out with Soviet/Russian weapons by Islamic fundamentalists, who seem to be dreaming of erasing Israel from the map and building a multinational Islamic empire that would control the rest of the world by manipulating the Arabs’ vast oil and natural gas resources.

During the 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, most of the Hezbollah weapons cases captured by the Israeli military forces were marked:

Customer: Ministry of Defense, Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia.[4]

The European Union-sponsored Gulf Research Centre, which provides journalists an inside view of the Gulf Center Region, found out that Hezbollah’s military forces were heavily armed with “Soviet-made Katyusha-122 rocket, which carries a 33-lb warhead.” Hezbollah is also armed with Russian-designed and Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets with a range of 47 miles, enabling it to strike the Israeli port of Haifa, and with the Russian- designed Zelzal-1 rockets, which could reach Tel Aviv. The Gulf Research Center established that Hezbollah also possessed the infamous Russian Scud missiles, obtained from Syria, as well as the Russian anti-tank missiles AT-3Sagger, AT-4Spigot, AT-5 Spandrel, AT-13 Saxhorn-2, and AT-14Spriggan Kornet. [5]

Now let me return to the need for the U.S. to have a contemporary NSC 68/1950. That 58-page strategy for winning the Cold War devised a powerful ideological offensive against Communism, which was a deadly threat “not only to this Republic but to civilization itself.” [6] NSC 68/1950 argued that the propaganda used by the “forces of imperialistic communism” could be overcome only by the “plain, simple, unvarnished truth. [7] The Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and, the following year, Radio Liberation (soon to become Radio Liberty) became part of the U.S. ideological offensive.

For those who still wonder how the U.S. won the Cold War, here is the view of the second post-Communism president of Romania, Emil Constantinescu:

Radio Free Europe has been a lot more important than the armies and the most sophisticated missiles. The “missiles” that destroyed Communism were launched from Radio Free Europe, and this was Washington’s most important investment during the Cold War. [8]

The missiles that will destroy radical Islamic fundamentalism and its anti-American terrorism should be fired by a new U.S. ideological offensive similar to that which helped us win the Cold War. We are facing a similar cataclysmic situation, one that cannot be overcome by abandoning our own allies in the Islamic world, or by “no fly zones.” The Kremlin spent half a century spreading the lie throughout the Islamic world that the U.S. was a war-mongering, Zionist country financed by Jewish money and run by a rapacious “Council of the Elders of Zion” (Moscow’s derisive epithet for the U.S. Congress), the aim of which was to ignite a new war in order to transform the rest of the world into a Jewish fiefdom. We need to put that lie to rest by again spreading the “plain, simple, unvarnished truth.”

Unfortunately, President Obama does not seem to be a Truman. So, I end by repeating what I said at the beginning of our symposium: Americans are proud people who love their country, and they will do everything in their power to defend it. If their president continues simply to vote “present,” the American voters will take the matter into their own hands and treat it the same way they recently handled the Democratic Party’s ill-conceived plans to redistribute our country’s wealth—the Democrats were booted out of positions that let them decide where to spend our money.

Americans know that without American leadership, the world will not have peace and stability.

FP: Nonie Darwish, Pavel Stroilov, Lt. General Pacepa and Michael Ledeen, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.


[1] Arnaud De Borchgrave, “Gullible Amnesia,” The Washington Times, February 22, 2011.

[2] At that time Iran was “protected” by Soviet troops, which together with British troops had invaded the country in August 1941 in “Operation Countenance,” to secure Persian oil fields and supply lines for the Soviets fighting against Axis forces on the Eastern Front. The British troops withdrew in September 1941. The Soviets refused to recall their troops until May 1946.

[3] Gary B. Nash, Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana, The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, combined volume, 6th Edition (New York, Longman, 2007).

[4] Adrian Blomfield, “Israel humbled by arms from Iran,” The Telegraph, August 15, 2006.

[5] Paul Weitz, “Hezbollah, Already a Capable Military Force, Makes Full Use of Civilian Shields and Media Manipulation”, JINSA Online, August 12, 2006, retrieved from the original (,2360,655,158,3504, on January 9, 2008.

[6] Gary B. Nash, Julie Roy Jeffrey, John R. Howe, Allen F. Davis, Allan M. Winkler, Charlene Mires, and Carla Gardina Pestana, The American People, Concise Edition Creating a Nation and a Society, combined volume, 6th Edition (New York, Longman, 2007).

[7] Elizabeth E. Spalding, The First Cold Warrior: Harry Truman, Containment, and the Remaking of Liberal Internationalism 1 (University Press of Kentucky, 2006).

[8] Nestor Ratesh, “Radio Free Europe’s Impact in Romania During The Cold War,” prepared form the Conferrence on Cold War Broadcasting Impact, AStanford, CA, October 13-15, 2004.

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  • jon whiteford

    I am most impressed with this group, and there in depth knowledge.

    Look what happened to Africa, as a result of Marxist influence on most of the immediate post colonial rulers. What a disaster tribalism and socialism have been.

    Is it possible, with the permission of those sponsoring and those involved to make this available as a .pdf file?

    It is such a great refutation of much of the blather we are hearing these days, I want to be able to keep it forever.

    I will now go back and look at your book and be looking for your next one out.

    Thank you and your panel for your scholarship and your time.

    Jon Whiteford
    From a tiny town in Kentucky

    • ajnn

      "a great refutation of much of the blather we are hearing" –

      it is remarkable that the 'commentators' are actually getting paid real money for knowing nothing and saying nonsense.

  • Ken Genest

    I took the time to read the whole thing because I got the impression these are knowledgeable people and they're telling the truth – something we don't get much of in the media.

    Reading the report of this symposium was a great learning session for me!

  • 2maxpower

    thank you Jamie. a very informative panel.


  • ajnn

    This is a difficult set of issues and I am unclear as to how much the roots of the soviet/communist decadence and nihilism have been a formative influence in the middle east.

    maybe i just want it to 'not be so'. i sure do not want it to be accurate !!!! of course, this is not a 'policy'.

    the point about the 'secret police archives' is not dependant on any 'roots of soviet' analysis and is ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL, as pointed out by this panel. A very, very important issue.

  • fxgeorges

    I agree with Michael: Iran is absolutely central to the whole regional revolution.

    They all agree with bert

  • dominicversy