Why Ayatollah Khamenei is Pessimistic about Relations with the United States

The text of this article has been selected from: “Iran and the United States; the Failed Past and the Road to Peace”, authored by Seyed Hossein Mousavian with Shahir Shahidsaless.

Part (1): Four major, interrelated elements shape Ayatollah Khamenei’s perception of the US

Page: 161

First, he wholeheartedly believes that regardless of all the ups and downs, pushes and pulls between Iran and the US, Washington’s ultimate intention is to topple Iran’s Islamic system and subordinate them within a Pax Americana, as it did during the Shah’s era after the 1953 coup. Ayatollah Khamenei maintains that the US, no matter which school of thought and party is in power or which president has taken office, intends to “wipe out the Islamic Republic”with all possible means at its disposal. The conclusion he draws from US rhetoric, policies, and behavior is that the US will not relent from its desire for regime change unless the current government surrenders its principles, religious beliefs, political structure, and independence. The United States’ tacit support for Saddam Hussein’s invasion and provision of material support, its covert operations, support for belligerent groups and the Islamic Republic’s opposition (including a budgetary provision), its denial of Iran’s right to peaceful enrichment under the NPT, and its intrusive and paralyzing economic sanctions are all viewed by Ayatollah Khamenei as indisputable attempts to bring about an end to the Islamic Republic. He maintains that the US’s primary objective is to undermine the Islamic government by fostering internal disorder and, ultimately, regime change.

The second element that shapes Ayatollah Khamenei’s disposition towards the US is his firm belief that US foreign policy in the Middle East, and specifically regarding Iran, is overwhelmingly dominated by the pro-Israel lobby. From his point of view, even the president of the United States does not have any authority over US foreign policy. He is surprised that year after year, the president or other high-level officials of the most powerful country on earth attend American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) gatherings and report what they have done to undermine the Iranian government and satisfy pro-Israel lobby demands. Although there is in general a consensus within the nezam about Israel’s influence on US Middle East policy, some argue that it is the Zionists who determine the US foreign policy, and not Americans.

The third element shaping the Supreme Leader’s perception of the US is his extreme mistrust of American politics. The documents confiscated by students after seizing the US Embassy seemed to justify such a stance by many high-echelon Iranian politicians, including Ayatollah Khamenei. According to those documents, the embassy was involved in espionage and the fostering of covert links to members of the new government and army.

Finally, Ayatollah Khamenei’s sees the American government and the system it represents as addicted to arrogance and hegemony. He feels that if a country is not seen as a “great power,” then a lord–serf relationship is the only kind of relationship that the US is prepared to accept.

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“Why Ayatollah Khamenei is Pessimistic about Relations with the United States,” Seyed Hossein Mousavian with Shahir Shahidsaless, Iran Review, June 1, 2014.