And they are Abbas Milani, Nader Mousavizadeh, a few others, amongst whom there is the controversial but very insightful Michael Ledeen. The conventional wisdom, frankly, is almost never a conclusion drawn from facts, but a conclusion drawn from temperament. I suppose this was the case with Barack Obama, who was sure that the ayatollahs and their president would negotiate on the basis of his sweet reason.

Here’s a piece posted by Michael Ledeen on the Web at 8:25 p.m. on January 12:

A MURDEROUS DECEPTION IN TEHRAN MARKS A NEW ESCALATION IN THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC’S STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL

Early Tuesday morning–sometime between 7:30 and 8 o’clock–Physics Professor Massoud Ali-Mohammadi was killed in an explosion while in his automobile leaving for Tehran University. The explosion came from a motorcycle rigged with explosives, that had been parked in front of his house for three days. It was detonated by remote control.

Despite a torrent of disinformation from the regime, Ali-Mohammadi was not involved in the secret nuclear weapons project, and–again contrary to the regime’s lies–he was certainly not a regime loyalist. Indeed, he was among many university professors who supported Green leader Mir Hossein Mousavi during last spring’s heated electoral campaign (see the entry at 1259 GMT on Enduring America). Why was he killed now? Because he was planning to leave the country for Stockholm, where he’d been offered a one-year fellowship in his chosen specialty, particle physics.

So unless the killers were totally confused, this was not a blow at the regime by its enemies, whether domestic or foreign (as you can imagine, there were all sorts of wild accusations from official media, blaming the murder on America, Israel, the MEK, which plays the crocodile to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s Captain Hook and obscure “royalist” organizations abroad), but rather the opposite: it was a vicious assault by the regime against one of its critics.

The use of the motorcycle is suggestive, for such devices were used by Iranian proxies in Iraq. I am told that the assassination is the first such act on Iranian soil by the Revolutionary Guard’s “foreign legion;” highly trained killers from Lebanese Hezbollah. Members of the legion had participated in street fighting in Tehran during recent demonstrations and were identified at the assassination site. Their bloody act this morning suggests that Khamenei has decided to go all out to crush his enemies. If further confirmation is required, it has come from Khamenei’s personal spokesman and representative to the Guards, Ali Saeedi who, we hear from Scott Lucas at Enduring America, has reportedly declared that the the deaths of 75,000 people will be worthwhile if the Islamic Republic is thereby preserved.

As if the carnage unleashed against the Iranian people were not bloody enough! So we can expect to see further escalation in the near future. The regime can be expected to use the disinformation about Ali-Mohammadi’s assassination to justify mayhem on a greater scale.

At the same time, the tensions within the regime are intensifying. The Guards commanders will not fail to draw a significant lesson from today’s events: the supreme leader turned to Lebanese Arabs, not to Iranians, to kill the dissident physicist. This bespeaks a certain lack of confidence in the Revolutionary Guards and the local security forces. If Khameni’s suspicions are justified, he will now have further reason to worry. As if to put an exclamation point on this fear, I have learned that the Deputy Commander of the Guards in the Greater Tehran area, Brigadier General Azizollah Rajabzadeh, is in intensive care following an axe attack to his cranium by one of his crack troops. This follows the shooting of General Ahmad Reza Radan by one of his men, about which I reported earlier.

Students of revolution will recognize all this. As judgment day approaches, and the restraints of the social order are systematically eroded, the regime reverts to the Hobbesian state of nature, described by the great philosopher as a “war of every man against every man.” And so it is, for Ali Khamenei is fighting a two front war: one front pits him against the vast majority of his subjects, who refuse to accept his legitimacy, and who seem to gain strength and courage every time he orders his storm troopers to crush them. The other front faces significant elements within the regime, who are looking for ways to preserve their wealth and power. Khamenei would like to put both groups into a strong cage, so that he alone can dictate. But if he tries that, he is likely to find elements of his “own side” making at least temporary alliances with the Greens, since they will discover they have a common foe.

It is a rare moment, one that should be seized by the West on both strategic and moral grounds. The fall of the Islamic Republic would literally change the world dramatically in our favor. As we all know, neither America nor any other Western country seems to recognize the nature of the moment, and it may pass, to the great shame of an entire generation of so-called Western leaders. I do not think that will happen. I believe the regime has gone beyond the Point of No Return. But our feckless behavior will no doubt ensure that the new, free Iran will regard us with profound suspicion, if not contempt. If we do not help them in their hour of profound need, why should they strain to make our lives easier in the future?