World Cup Soccer, Michael Ledeen and the WSJ Editorials on Iran

What do World Cup Soccer, Michael Ledeen and WSJ editorials on Iran have in common?

Read on and you may find out, with a laugh, I hope.

Iranian Ali Karimi is one of Bayern Munich's biggest profiles summer signings. He played a pivotal role during his country's qualification for Germany 2006 and has scored 32 goals in 87 appearances for his national side so far. (

First, despite the fact that some of my best friends, including some of my friends from India, have boycotted The Wall Street Journal out of frustration with its editorials and opinion pieces, I continue my subscription both to the online and print editions.

The Wall Street Journal is a truly marvelous paper.

For example, in the Monday's edition there are reports on recent moves by Google to introduce an editor in a drop-down side-bar, on the effect of Northwest's mechanics strike on plane schedules and how that company is fighting the strike, on the new bluetooth advertising campaigns in the U.K. and regulatory issues affecting such advertisements there, and finally, on Merk's Vioxx case which has led to an unprecedented jury award.

However, when it comes to Iran, despite all the great reporting on its news columns, the Journal seems to be getting too much wrong on its opinion and editorial pages to ignore.

As an example of what I observed yesterday in an entry about Sean Penn's recent visit to Iran, I ran into the lead editorial on Monday's edition of The Wall Street Journal just a few minutes ago when I got up to get a drink. (Online edition requires a paid subscription.)

This editorial resonates almost in perfect tandem with the regular opinion pieces from Michael Ledeen which The Wall Street Journal has published on a regular basis in the past. Hiding the opinion pieces under an anonymous byline under the "Review and Outlook" editorial column hardly hides anything.

I wrote a critical letter to the editors back in August of 2002, first thanking The Wall Street Journal for excellent reporting on its news columns and then noting that Dr. Ledeen, despite his education as a philosopher and historian and despite his eloquence as a writer, knew absolutely nothing about Iran and yet seemed to have a regular lease on the Journal opinion pieces on Iran. (It seems that lease has continued to be in effect up to now.) I accused the opinion page editors of intentional mis-information and requested that they include, at least on an occasional basis, some diversity of opinions when it came to Iran instead of one Ledeen opinion piece after another. I sent my letter to Ledeen, too, who wrote back, requesting that I debate him on specific facts in his "work" on Iran. That was a nice little trick: You first construct a big lie from many, many little ones. To give the big lie some credibility, you invite people to debate the minutia of the little lies with you. (This is besides the fact that one can hardly claim to have "worked" on Iran if one does not know any Persian, has no understanding of Islam and has rarely travelled there or understood its cultural context.) In any case, for a while the Journal editors refrained from publishing Ledeen's opinion pieces as such and started publishing "works" by his friends. The lease continued under the same owner.

So, it's really not that surprising to see that in its Monday, August 23, 2005, edition, the WSJ is carrying an editorial that has the finger prints of Michael Ledeen all over it. Again, as I said earlier, there's a wide gap between what The WSJ says in its news reports and what it says in its editorials and opinion pieces. Ledeen seems to have lodged himself very well on those pages, which is quite unfortunate for those who only read the editorials and the opinion pieces.

In any case, the bankrupcy and frustration of Ledeen's views on Iran are evident enough. The editorial (or should I say "he") attacks not only the usually conservative Time Magazine as "no friend of U.S. policy in Iraq," it has a very desparate and funny solution to the problem. Political farce could not be better. After criticizing the Bush Administration for being too soft on Iran (that should make many laugh), the editorial goes on to say:

Perhaps it's time to try a different strategy. We aren't referring here to economic sanctions via the U.N. Security Council. China and Russia aren't likely to agree to sanctions, and even if they did (after many months of haggling) Iran may think it can ride them out in a world of $60 oil.

Leaving aside -- but not ruling out -- the option of military intervention, the Iranian regime is vulnerable to diplomatic pressure from without and even more so to democratic pressure from below. Yet the Bush administration has given comparatively little support to Iranian pro-democracy groups, and it has made no effort to organize bans on Iranian participation in prestigious international forums or at sporting and cultural events. Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests, for starters, barring the Iranian national soccer team from the World Cup. Perhaps even this is too militant for the likes of Chancellor Schröder. But it would be the beginning of a serious Iran policy.

Yes, that's really a very serious, new policy—to make life hard on all forums, going from one defeat to the next, and as if Chancellor Schröder or even a Chancellor Merkel could rewrite the rules of the world soccer federation, FIFA. Michael, if this was your work, let's think again, and let's be sensible this time, and let's not create more embarrassment while four billion people watch the World Cup next year. I know you can do it! If you cannot, let others who are more competent take over your lease on the opinion pages of the WSJ when it comes to penning about Iran and the Middle East.

By the way, had it not been for the time difference between Iran and East Asia, Iran would have been the first, rather then the second, team to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. See you there folks!

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halo there. I was just doing a search on Albinoni/Giazotto's Adagio in G minor, and the first relevant result was the entry on your blog. I thought it was sort of interesting, specially your observation that the piece seems to resonate with Iranians, as I'm also an Iranian. Anyway, just wanted to drop a line and say thanks, without your entry I probably would have had a harder time getting some info on the piece.

Posted by pendar on August 23, 2005 at 08:38 AM PDT #

You're welcome. I'm happy the entry was of use to you. If you find a better recording available on the web, please do let me know.

Posted by guest on August 23, 2005 at 09:01 AM PDT #

By the way, your is truly amazing stuff. Great sense of design!!! How did you do it???

Posted by M. Mortazavi on August 23, 2005 at 09:02 AM PDT #

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