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The Iranian Time Bomb: The Mullah Zealots' Quest for Destruction Hardcover – September 4, 2007

3.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ledeen, a well-known conservative pundit on Iran, argues passionately for a bolder, better-reasoned American policy toward the Islamic republic. He presents compelling evidence that the Shiite regime has collaborated with al-Qaeda and other Sunni terrorist organizations, and that Iran's Supreme Leader has considered the goal of killing Westerners and Jews throughout the Middle East. In presenting his litany of Iranian perfidies, however, Ledeen can seem to overreach: he divines Persian influence in the siege of the Great Mosque in Mecca in 1979 and implies there's consensus that Tehran is harboring Ayman al-Zawahiri. Of 9/11 Ledeen writes, [W]e have still not unraveled all the threads of the September 11 conspiracy. If we ever do, I suspect we will be amazed at the number of terrorist groups—and their national sponsors—that were involved in the conspiracy. The last third of this short book is dedicated to improving American policy toward Iran. One of the cooler heads at AEI and the National Review, Ledeen presents discussions not on bombs and tactical strikes, but on the moral, logistical and material support for Iranian dissidents, who he claims make up a clear majority of the population. While he may overestimate the potential for regime change in the near future, Ledeen's suggestions merit further discussion. (Sept.)
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"Sometimes controversial, often provocative, always informative and insightful."—Bernard Lewis, author of What Went Wrong?, The Middle East, and The Arabs in History

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Truman Talley Books; 1st edition (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312376553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312376550
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,634,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Ledeen's essential thesis in this book is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is an unchanging, intransigent, and implacable enemy of modernity and of the West. Since the revolution that brought the Mullahs to power, US policy has naively hoped that forces of moderation would gain the ascendancy and that a negotiated common ground would be found. Nearly thirty years later, Iran retains its hardened position, torturing its people, engaging in international terrorism, and developing a nuclear capability to dominate the region. Ledeen argues that since the Islamic Republic has not changed, it is time for US policy to promote regime change in Iran.

This is all well and good, but the key question is how to accomplish this goal.

The author proceeds from the assumption, articulated by Machiavelli, that "tyranny is the most unstable form of government". This being the case he argues that not much is needed to oust the mullahs, writing, "The Iranian people need three things from us to catalyze their wide-ranging protests into an effective revolutionary force: hope, information, and some material support".

Hope, according to Ledeen, is provided by nothing more than a declaration that the United States wants regime change in Iran, transmitted into the country by radio such as the Voice of America.

Information, in the author's view, also depends on radio broadcasts and the Internet to let the Iranian people know what's going on in their country, and to provide "how to" information from leaders of other revolutionary movements.

The needed material support to bring about the downfall of the regime includes nothing more than "satellite phones, laptops, servers, phone cards, software to beat the regime's `filtering' of the Internet, and so forth".
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Format: Hardcover
Michael Ledeen thinks that Iran's "mullocracy" can be toppled without U.S. force, and that American's military choices are limited to a focus on Iran's nuclear program or general bombing to destroy Iran's fascist government. He also believes that the only exportable U.S. "weapon" is "the American democratic revolution."

Like former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, I disagree. If the U.S. tackles Iran militarily, its campaign should not be hobbled in advance. Moreover, Iran is one of world's states least likely to sprout an American style democracy.

Everything else in this book, though, is not only intelligent, but necessary to U.S. national survival. Democrats and Republicans alike have got to stop playing footsie with the Islamic theocrats, and pretending that some miracle will moderate Islamic fascism.

There are many reasons for Islamic stridency, not least of all the history, theology and ideology fundamental to all forms of Islam, Shi'ite and Sunni alike (as explained brilliantly in Dr. Andrew Bostom's The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims and his forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History).

But among the most pertinent reasons just now is the refusal of U.S. governments for the last 30 years to even examine the problem. The former President most at fault is Jimmy Carter (
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am uncomfortable with the central theme of "The Iranian Time Bomb." Michael Ledeen compares the religious fanatical leaders of Iran with their significantly more secular counterparts in the former Soviet Union. The Communist thugs, however, enjoyed life and were not even slightly interested in committing suicide on behalf of the cause. Outright cynicism was the norm at the end of the regime. They seemed more interested in drinking the best vodka, eating premium caviar, and entertaining their mistresses than wiping out the West. The author may want to instead remember the last hours of Adolph Hitler and his loyal inner circle. What would have likely occurred if they possessed weapons of mass destruction? I think we already know the answer to this question. Just how nihilistically inclined are the Iranian mullahs? Are they willing to annihilate the whole planet? Do they love death more than life?

The polling data indicating, "that upward of 70 percent of Iranians want greater freedom and better relations with the United States", legitimately encourages Ledeen. But do these people control the military? When push comes to shove, will they be able to disable the weapons pointed at our direction? We know this much: the Iranian regime has unofficially declared war on the United States. Constantly the mullahs push the envelope a little further. Our own elected officials, including the present administration, have for far too long looked the other way. Ledeen provides Americans with the information they so desperately need. Is he overly optimistic about reforming the current reactionary government of Iran? Whatever, the United States is very hesitant to preemptively order its military forces to strike at Iranian targets.
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