Symposium: The Red Arabs

How Arab socialists and Islamists have been preparing for this Mideast moment.

In this special edition of Frontpage Symposium we have assembled a distinguished panel to discuss how and why Arab socialists and Islamists have been preparing for this Mideast moment for many years. Our guests today are:

Michael Ledeen, a noted political analyst and a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. He is the author of The Iranian Time Bomb, Machiavelli on Modern Leadership and Tocqueville on American Character, and he is a contributor to The Wall Street Journal. His latest book is Accomplice to Evil: Iran and the War Against the West.

Pavel Stroilov, a historian who smuggled a vast secret archive of the Gorbachev era out of Russia. Top secret documents concerning the Middle East will be revealed in his forthcoming book Behind the Desert Storm, due to be published by Price World Publishing this summer.

Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest official ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. His first book, Red Horizons, was republished in 27 languages. In March 2010, The Washington Post recommended it to be included on the list of books that should be read in schools. A commemorative edition of Red Horizons was just issued in Romania to mark 20 years since Ceausescu was executed at the end of a trial where most of the accusations came out of this book. In April 2010, Pacepa’s latest book, Programmed to Kill: Lee Harvey Oswald, the Soviet KGB, and the Kennedy Assassination, was prominently displayed at the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians held in Washington D.C., as a “superb new paradigmatic work” and a “must read” for “everyone interested in the assassination of President Kennedy.”


Nonie Darwish, the author “Cruel and usual Punishment” and the President of

FP: Nonie Darwish, Pavel Stroilov, Lt. General Pacepa and Michael Ledeen, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Pavel Stroilov let us begin with you.

Tell us what you discovered in the Soviet archives concerning the Middle East and what light it might shine on the events in Egypt and in the Middle East in general.

Stroilov: Of course, the Soviet archives are not immediately relevant to the current events in the Middle East; but they do give us a useful insight into the world of Arab Socialist dictators, such as Mubarak or Saddam, Assad or Arafat, Gaddafi or all the others. Today's media reports from the Middle East somehow manage to omit nearly all important questions. For instance, any sensible analysis of a revolution should certainly begin from considering the nature of the regime. But in all these 24-hours TV coverages from, say, Lybia, how many times have you heard the phrase Islamic Socialism? And that is the regime's official ideology. That is also what it is all about - not only in Lybia.

Likewise, it is not enough simply to say that Mubarak was a dictator and that he was backed by the West. Let me explain:

The Egyptian regime was the first-born 'Arab Socialist' regime; its ultimate goal was to 'overcome the legacy of colonialism' and unite the entire Arab world in a national-socialist superstate. As a movement, Arab Socialists are quite similar to Communists and Nazis, and they have been backed by both Nazis and Communists in different periods of their history. The founder of the present Egyptian regime, Col. Nasser, worked with Moscow to export his revolution all over the Middle East - with considerable success. The most notorious of the Egyptian regime's younger brothers were the Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria, as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization, founded by Nasser as his future puppet government for whatever would remain of Israel and Jordan after a successful socialist jihad.

After several unsuccessful invasions of Israel, Nasser's successor Sadat realized this was a wrong tactic. Make no mistake: this does not make the Egyptian regime genuinely pro-Western or pro-Israeli. At no time, for example, did the Egyptian regime stop supporting one or another of the subversive Palestinian groups; it still supports Fatah today. It was only a question of tactics. For this matter, as the archives show, Moscow in the early 1970s tried to persuade Sadat that another invasion of Israel was a wrong tactic, but he insisted on making one more attempt.

After the assassination of Sadat (by a pure coincidence, as we now know from the archives, the Islamist assassins unwittingly fulfilled a secret plan worked out by the Syrian KGB and Palestinian terrorists, approved by Moscow), he was succeeded by Mubarak, a graduate of a Soviet military academy, who commanded Egypt's air forces in the Yom-Kippur War against Israel. The West readily accepted him as a re-incarnation of Sadat. But if Mubarak was another Sadat, why was not he killed like Sadat?

To the Soviets, as the documents show, Mubarak was keen to present himself as a genuine Nasserite whose true loyalty lies with socialism, and to dissociate himself from his pro-Western predecessor. He described his continuing relations with the West as a cynical game of extracting loans he had no intention to repay, but which alone could keep his regime afloat. He hinted he was just waiting for a convenient moment to stab 'the imperialists' in the back.

So, Mubarak was not the Shah of Iran. He was not even Sadat. The regime he led for years is still institutionally hostile to Israel and the West, and it is still a totalitarian socialist regime based on the Party - army - secret police triangle. One feature that distinguishes it from communist regimes is that the land is still privately owned. That is because (as Mubarak confided to Gorbachev) Khruschev once told Nasser in strict secrecy not to create collective farms: that experiment, he said, was tried in the USSR and failed.

True, this regime has a peace treaty with Israel; but I think its significance is exaggerated. When did such regimes ever pay any attention to their peace treaties? Mubarak does not attack Israel because he knows he would be beaten – Egypt has been beaten every time it tried.

To be brief, Mubarak's Egypt was a similar regime to Saddam's Iraq, Assad's Syria, of Gaddafi's Libya; a typical 'Red Arab' regime. Today, the world of Red Arabs has reached its natural Year 1989. It has become commonplace to call it 1989 with an air of absurd optimism. Yet, nobody seems to be thinking of how to avoid the mistakes of 1989. The history of 1989 in East Europe is a history of bogus movements, orchestrated revolutions, and cynical power-sharing deals behind the scenes. That was a year when East Europe lost its chance to establish genuine democracy and free market, and was doomed to decades of 'post-communist' nonsense. In the Middle East, it can be even much worse.

So, the tragedy is not that we have reached this point: that had been inevitable all along, as every socialist regime eventually exhausts its economy and the patience of its people. Anyone with a bit of sense and a bit of interest in the matter had known this day would come. Even I, as I happened to be finishing my book shortly before the events in Tunisia, concluded it by predicting that the Red Arabs were on the way to their downfall (now this has become a platitude and I need a new ending). The tragedy is that the Red Arabs and the Islamists have been preparing for this moment for many years; but the West is, as usual, caught by surprise. All we can think of is supporting El Baradei, best known for his covering up of Iraqi and Iranian nuclear programmes, because he is one Arab name we've already memorized (or is there some better reason?). The 'experts', barely concealing their bewilderment, offer us a choice between the hopeless course of supporting a doomed regime and the suicidal course of going along with the future Islamic Republic of Egypt. This much could be worked out without experts.

On close examination, these two options are exactly the same. It is no coincidence that the Muslim Brotherhood is the only organized opposition in Egypt. Mubarak's KGB (or whatever is Arabic for Gestapo) had been working to achieve this for years, ruthlessly stifling any alternative, any embryonic democratic movement, but sparing the Islamist opposition. It is, no doubt, densely infiltrated by secret police informers. And now the events are moving towards the worst-case scenario from 1989: some 'roundtable' negotiations between the regime and the selected opposition groups, leading to some 'transitional' power-sharing deal, giving the Islamists a bridgehead in the government. All those brave boys fighting on the streets, whose only organization is Twitter, will go by the board. By the time of 'elections', the only choice will be between the Red Arabs and Muslim Brotherhood. And the West will warmly welcome every step in this direction as a step to stability. It already does.

Is it too late now to prevent all this? We must at least try - but we are not even trying. The West does not even have a policy. The West does not even bother to do an obvious, fool-proof thing: stand up for one oppressed minority which is immune to both Socialism and Islamism - Christians. As for the 'Arab street', no policy-maker seems even to know what forces there are on the ground and which of them we want to win.

I am sure my colleagues on this panel will have some good ideas on what that policy should be. For my part, I can only warn against four major mistakes made in 1989, which the West is, I fear, about to repeat:

1. 'Stability' is a word we'd better forget - there is no such thing in a revolution. 'Stability' will be the motto of the Islamo-Socialist roundtable, whereas our only potential allies are young street-fighters who demand freedom, not stability.

2. Another word to forget is 'moderate'. Revolutions are never won by moderates; they are won by radicals. The Islamists must not be allowed to 'sell' themselves as the most radical force. Indeed, they are not - they are too closely interlinked with the regime. We should support those who demand a complete dismantling of the regime, putting it on trial, opening all its secret archives, revealing the names of all secret police informers. I bet we would find many Muslim Brothers' names there. This is radical; this is also something the Islamists would not like. Indeed, this is about the only trump card I can see in the hands of Egypt’s democrats (if they do emerge as a serious force as I hope).

3. Once you've identified 'our guys in Egypt', don't be shy about supporting them morally and financially - this won't compromise them. Red Arabs and Islamists will accuse democrats of being Western agents anyway. Winning a revolution is very money-intensive; Iran and others will certainly shower Islamists with money (I guess, it already does).  Moral support would also be important - in a turmoil like this, the foreign opinion is seen as something of an impartial arbiter.

4. This revolution won't stop in Egypt and Lybia - it will spread further. We should take a broad view of it. The West has been late in Egypt - but we must, at least, try to influence further developments in the region. Now is the time to start working not just on Egypt's and Lybia's revolutions, but on the next one, and on the one after the next. It is one matter if the revolution now spreads to Saudi Arabia, and quite another if it spreads to Iran. We must do our best to make it Iran. This, indeed, may be our last hope to snatch victory from the bearded jaws of Islamists (if you forgive the expression).

Ledeen: Wow, what a great panel!  Kudos to you Jamie.

Pavel and his friend Vladimir Bukovsky have done yeoman work in uncovering the real history of the Soviet Empire, and I agree with just about everything he says.  My main demurral is when he talks about "bogus revolutions" in Central and Eastern Europe.  Yes, there were many of those, but here and there we saw real ones, and some of those succeeded and have endured and even flourished.  Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia are successes, the Baltics are either doing ok or are still in play, and despite the dark clouds, I haven't given up on Ukraine and Bulgaria.  I expect that General Pacepa, one of the great heroes of modern times, will give us a full picture of Romania.

Pavel makes a central point, which is largely overlooked in the frenzy of Egypt coverage (Tunisia has virtually disappeared from "reportage"):  it's a regional mass movement.  I have often encouraged people to read R.R. Palmer's great masterpiece The Age of the Democratic Revolution (written in the 1960s), which deals with the last quarter of the 18th century.  In those years there were democratic revolutionary movements all over the civilized world. Most failed. So don't be surprised if most of these fail; that's the template.  But we should support the real democratic forces if we know who they are.

That's another good point from Pavel.  We haven't been supporting them (to our shame), so it's hard for us to distinguish the good guys from the frauds, and some of the frauds are in the pay of the Iranians and, I rather suspect, the Russians.  My heart fell last week when our chief of "national intelligence" said that the Muslim Brotherhood is secular and non-violent, when the opposite is true.  On the other hand, the Obama Administration (albeit not the president himself, so far as I can tell) has very strongly endorsed the Iranian opposition and denounced the regime's vicious oppression.  Maybe we will yet have a policy supporting revolutionary regime change throughout the region.  It started in Iran, inspired Tunisia and Egypt, and is now reverberating all over the Islamic Republic.

Finally, a bit of analytical modesty is in order.  We don't know how this well play out.  Things are never so bad they can't get worse, and Islamist tyrannies would be worse than the Arab authoritarian dictatorships. It's a fight, and the totalitarian Islamists are probably much better organized and much more resolute than their democratic foes...time will tell.

Darwish: I agree with Michael Ledeen that this is a great panel and I always learn a lot from Russian heroes such as him and Mr. Stroilov. I also agree with him that the current revolution in Egypt is a regional movement that will destabilize the region for quite sometime. If democracy wins in the region, the instability and perhaps civil wars will last much longer than if tyranny wins. We can only wait and see, but my fear is that as tyranny falls the chances for the chaos reaching Israel and the West increases.

Having lived during the socialist dictatorship of Nasser in Egypt, I cannot wait to read Mr. Stroilov’s upcoming book. I like Mr. Stroilov’s term ‘socialist jihad’ which indicates how Socialism and Islamism have combined in many parts of the Muslim world.

Despite some rocky history between Socialism and Islamism, they have often cooperated, fed on one another and blended and bonded. It is much more accepted for an Arab rebel to adopt communism than a pro-Western capitalist ideology. I have heard many Arabs proudly say they are communists and survive, but those who can dare announce they are supporters of a Judeo/Christian style democracy are no where to be found. The former is rarely described as infidel, but the is what the later is called. The reason is complex but the obvious one is that both ideologies, socialism and Islam, are totalitarian in nature and both have Western style free democracies as their number one enemy.

In the political chaos of the Middle East, Socialism has managed to survive and attract many followers. Almost all Muslim countries have tolerated a side-kick communist/socialist party which was well connected to the much needed communist block of the Soviet Union. Arab regimes have always needed the support of the communist block militarily and politically.

Unlike Western style democracy, socialism was closer to Islamism producing a unique blend of the two ideologies in almost all Arab countries. Socialism has served many Muslim leader well and provided them with yet another layer of tyranny that Islam might have missed. The flags of Iraq and Egypt for instance were very similar indicating the socialist twist of black white and red stripes, but then to please the Islamist Saddam tastelessly added the Allahu Akhbar in Arabic in the middle which made the flag represent the blending of the two ideologies.

The reason that Red Arab ideology can survive inside the brutal political environment of Islam was because it did not challenge Sharia Islamic law as much as Western free style democracy. Red Arabs and Islamists were brought closer together by their Western mutual enemy. That is the state of Egyptian politics today, where the Islamist and Socialists have often cooperated, however, this cooperation evaporates as soon as the Muslim Brotherhood is in control.

The self-exiled Egyptian Yusuf Al-Qaradawi arrived in Cairo after the revolution to speak at Tahrir square Friday and socialist activists were prevented from joining him on the stage after his prayers sermon. That is perhaps a message that socialists are no longer needed by the Brotherhood after the revolution. I do not predict that socialism in Egypt will disappear with a triumph of Islamists, but the dance between the two ideologies will continue to manifest itself.

In that dynamic, the possibility for Egypt’s supporters of a Western style democracy to appear as a force is very week. This group will immediately be branded as puppets of the West and traitors to Islamic aspirations. For such a group to gain power, tremendous change and growth in Egyptian thinking and education must take place.

Unfortunately, my guess is that the situation in Egypt will get worse before it gets better and Egyptians need to experience the horrors of life under Islamic Sharia for a Western style democracy to emerge. The Egyptian culture is still extremely anti-Semitic and anti-American after many decades of indoctrination and propaganda that Islam is the solution. For now the power in Egypt will be with Islamists who will adopt some socialist policies.

Pacepa: I'm also grateful to Jamie Glazov for gathering together such a great panel, and especially for persuading Michael Ledeen to attend this symposium. He is among the few Americans who really understand the three main components of this international crisis: U.S. foreign policy, Islamic terrorism, and the Middle East. For, in my view, the current wave of Islamic "revolutions," which have been long in the making, are turning against the United States primarily because our administration does not have any foreign policy to deal with them, does not understand Islamic terrorism, and has no clue about what to do in the Middle East.

I am not an expert on Egyptian matters, but in my other life, as a top figure in the Soviet bloc, I witnessed the Kremlin's secret effort to ignite "liberation revolutions" within the Islamic world, and to turn them against the Kremlin's main enemy, the United States. I have described this effort elsewhere ("Russian Footprints," National Review Online, August 24, 2006).

From my vintage point, the Kremlin's long effort to implant a rabid hatred for the U.S. in the Islamic world has now arrived at gestation for the simple reason that the current administration in Washington has been caught with its pants down. It would have been hilarious, if it were not such a deadly serious matter, that this administration could not even make up its mind on how to react publicly to recent events in Egypt. And it is outright incredible that the Libyan ambassador to the United States should be begging Washington to condemn his own brutal tyrant, who has already killed hundreds of demonstrators in Tripoli, while our administration still does not know what to say, let alone have any semblance of a foreign policy to deal with the future oil crisis that will surely be generated by the chaotic Islamic uprisings—as things look now, we may soon be paying $10 per gallon for fuel at the pump.

We all want to see democracy succeed in Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Islamic world. The current horrors of anarchy taking place there, however, will not lead to democracy. Democratic revolutions have inspiring national leaders. The demonstrators in Cairo, Tripoli and in the rest of the Islamic countries do not have national leaders.

Just recently, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's chief theoretician, who is banned in the United States and Britain, returned to Cairo after a 50-year absence to lead Egypt’s "democratic revolution." His Muslim Brotherhood's "democratic" motto: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." According to the Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, these objectives could only be attained by "raising a jihadi generation that pursued death as the enemies pursued life." [1]

These Islamic "democratic revolutions" look much like the "democratic revolutions" that took place in my native Romania and the rest of Eastern Europe after World War II. I was there, and I witnessed how things went. None of them had a national leader. All were secretly instigated by Moscow, all were secretly manipulated by Moscow's men, and all were geared toward transforming those countries into Soviet satellites. They all succeeded, because the U.S. administration of that time also lacked any foreign policy that could recognize and deal with the Kremlin's export of revolution. Why were we able to win WWII, but unable to put together a foreign policy to deal with one of its most important aftermaths?

In 1943, the Kremlin manufactured evidence suggesting that Hitler was planning to kidnap President Roosevelt from the American Embassy in Tehran during the Allied Summit to be held there. As a result, Roosevelt agreed that the meetings between the three leasers be held within the “safety” of the Soviet Embassy compound, which was guarded by a large Soviet military unit. [2] Unbeknownst to the American organizers, the Soviet personnel assigned to Roosevelt were English-speaking undercover intelligence officers. With few exceptions, however, they kept their English fluency a secret, so as to be able to eavesdrop. Even given the limited technical capabilities of that day, those officers were able to provide Stalin with hourly monitoring reports on the American and British guests. That helped Stalin gain Roosevelt’s confidence. “The cripple’s mine!” Stalin reportedly exulted, after Roosevelt chummily referred to him as "Uncle Joe." Unfortunately, Stalin proved right.

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.