During his speech before the United Nations General Assembly, U.S. President Barack Obama accused Iran of using “violent proxies to advance its interests,” which he claimed served to “fuel sectarian conflict” in the region. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani shot back during his speech, decrying what he said were “baseless accusations” against Iran and calling for the United States to halt its “dangerous policies in defense of its regional allies who only cultivate the seeds of division and extremism.”
Obama and Rouhani’s comments highlight a broader issue underlying the troubled U.S.-Iran relationship. In the West, many commentators often portray Iran’s leaders as being unreasonably suspicious about the intentions of outside powers, particularly the United States. Often dovetailing with this mentality is that Iran is irrationally and innately aggressive. While President Obama’s remarks at the UNGA reflect this black-and-white thinking about Iran to a degree, other high-level U.S. officials have been far more brazen in their dishonest condemnations of Iran. For instance, the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, remarkably proclaimed in a March 2015 interview that “Iran and radical Islamist extremists” have opposed the United States simply because they “do not like our way of life.”
“Why Iran Doesn’t Trust America — And What Can Be Done to Change That,” Hossein Mousavian, The Huffington Post, October 5, 2015.