Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Taheri and the Leftists

In reading everything I could lay my hands on about Taheri’s breaking of the story about Obama’s perfidiousness in Iraq, I noticed that every leftist who dealt with the story began by demonizing Taheri.

I had some familiarity with Taheri before this fracas began. I read his Holy Terror, Inside the World of Islamic Terrorism, 1987 and Nest of Spies, 1988, but I read them a long time ago and they were written an even longer time ago; so I didn’t initially assume that Taheri was correct in regard to what he wrote about Obama attempting to influence the Iraqi Foreign Minister Zebari. I wasn’t rushing to judgment, but the Leftists were. After vilifying Tehari they refused to believe Obama had done anything wrong in Iraq, and when I didn’t immediately agree with them, they vilified me.

I read Taheri’s article several times. The Leftists didn’t. They kept referring to what it said, but kept getting it wrong. They didn’t seem to notice that the critical element in Taheri’s article wasn’t his own history, but his reporting of what the Foreign Minister told him. I knew very little about Taheri’s background, but I could read and I did have a grasp of logic; so the real issue wasn’t the Left’s vilification but whether Foreign Minister Zebari really did say what Taheri said he said.

The left heaped so much abuse on Taheri that it was hard to keep track of the real issues, but I persevered. I waited to see if Zebari would repudiate Taheri’s words – if he would hold a press conference and deny that he had told Taheri any such thing. Time passed and Zebari kept silent. He issued no such denial.

Well, okay, so Taheri was accurate in what he said. What then? What did this mean? Taheri’s focus was on Obama’s duplicitousness. In the past Obama urged time tables to get the troops home as quickly as possible. He said the Iraq war was lost and wanted to get our troops out of there. But in his recent visit to Iraq he conceded, more or less without saying so, that the war was won and saw no need to hurry the troops home. In fact he thought it would be good if Iraq kept them there until after the election.

Pardon Taheri for being a cynic, but he assumed Obama was intent upon keeping the troops in Iraq for political reasons. Much of his campaign had been built upon the idea that the war in Iraq was a mistake and was unwinnable. But now the Iraqis were doing so well they said they could begin to handle things on their own and wanted us to draw down our troop presence. It is okay, they said, for the American troops to go home. But Obama (inadvertently conceded the opposite of what he had previously argued in his campaigned), now wanted to keep things as they were until after the election. If troops start going home before the election, it would look like the war in Iraq was a success, that the Iraqis were better off now than under Saddam Hussein. It would be better to wait until after the election, Obama told Zebari, before sending troops home. Zebari seems to have been offended. Troops should go home based on Iraqi’s time table, not America’s.

All that was pretty clear when I read the reports, but when I turned away to see what the Leftists were saying, I read more vilification and demonization of Taheri. They persisted in thinking, I suppose, that vilifying Taheri was going to influence the facts, but the facts remained. In an interesting development, Obama’s camp denied Taheri’s charge but in discussing what Obama did say, they inadvertently admitted that what Taheri said was accurate. Were they just so inexperienced that they (1) didn’t understand what Taheri wrote, and (2) didn’t recognize that Obama had done anything wrong?

Leftists will persist, I suppose, in believing Taheri’s reputation is shot plenty of Leftists have shot at it. From my standpoint any writer so demonized by the Left is someone I want to read more of. I just checked and ordered one of his earlier books I hadn’t read, now out of print. I ordered an “ex libra” copy of The Spirit of Allah: Khomeini and the Islamic Revolution, 1986 I also preordered, The Persian Night: Iran Under the Knomeinist Revolution.

Lawrence Helm

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