Reid Smith writes that Hillary Mann Leverett was “advocated détente and diplomacy during the relatively moderate Khatami years in Iran, when it appeared Tehran was ready to cool its jets.” This is the opposite of the truth, as he’d know if he had bothered to click through the links I provided as background; during the Khatami years, Hillary Mann (not yet Leverett) was a critic of Tehran. She changed her mind, rather counterintuitively, around the time that Ahmadinejad became the face of the regime.
I could go through and critique the other foreign policy mandarins that he cites (Stephen Walt is a particularly rich target), but I won’t bother. Instead, let’s take a glance at the actual evidence. As Eli Lake reported last week:
U.S. officials tell The Daily Beast that they knew the Quds Force was behind the plot when the money was transferred in part because the Treasury had monitored the overseas account and identified it long before as an account used by the Iranian organization for supporting operations overseas. “We believe the information is ironclad,” one U.S. intelligence official told The Daily Beast. This official added that other technical intelligence confirmed that this was a Quds Force plot, and that Arbabsiar was not working on his own.
Now, of course it’s possible that the US government has made a massive error, confidently advancing a theory that, if proven false, will do serious damage to the credibility the United States. But if the argument for the proposition that US government has been grossly incompetent rests on skepticism that the Iranian government could possibly be capable of incompetence, suffice it to say that there’s a peculiar double standard at work here.