The Obama Administration’s Iran Delusions

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


Hassan-RouhaniWhile the Senate has recently urged the Obama administration to pass a new round of sanctions on the Islamic State of Iran as a result of Iran’s nuclear defiance and human rights abuses, the Obama administration is insisting on using dialogue, Track II diplomacy, and negotiations with Iran’s recently inaugurated president, Hassan Rouhani.  President Barack Obama and his advisors argue that Hassan Rouhani is a “moderate,” and as such, dialogue can now yield fruitful results. This move by the Obama administration is intriguing and it raises questions of whether the Islamist state of Iran is politically shrewd and Machiavellian enough to fool the United States or whether the Obama’s administration is suffering from political and ideological delusions about Iran.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has masterfully bought itself three decades of time since the revolution in 1979. These tactics have been utilized not only to pursue its nuclear enrichment program but also to maintain its grip on power, threaten the existence if Israel, assist global terror groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, execute political prisoners and human rights activists, and repress its population with backward, medieval-style, Islamic rule, and Muhammad-style of 1400 years ago.

Ideologically, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been using the Islamic strategy of taqyyia (where it is acceptable to lie and commit illegal acts) and it has also applied the Machiavellian tactic of exploiting these “civilized dialogues,” negotiations, US Track II diplomacy, in order to buy the time that it needs to get the nuclear bomb and nuclear arsenal. Recently the Senate wrote a letter to President Obama that stated that the time for diplomacy is over and that “Iran has used negotiations in the past to stall for time.” The letter continued: “Mr. President, we urge you to bring a renewed sense of urgency to the process. We need to understand quickly whether Tehran is at last ready to negotiate seriously. Iran needs to understand that the time for diplomacy is nearing its end.”  In addition, the overwhelming majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted (400 to 20) in favor of ratcheting up pressure on the Islamic state of Iran and its Ayatollahs. These sanctions are intended to target Tehran’s most significant source of income and most important economic lifeline — oil.

Nevertheless, the President and his advisors (some of Middle Eastern origin) have so far refrained from passing the bill, which has been endorsed by the overwhelming majority of the Senate and House of Representatives. This is the first bill that can potentially bring the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Ayatollah to the negotiating table. Iran has been capable of diverting all previous, internationally-endorsed sanctions through its sale of oil and the soaring prices of crude oil in the last few decades.

The Obama administration points out that Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president is a “moderate” who might be capable of making a breakthrough in the nuclear talks. Any person, who studies Iran’s political structure closely, would be cognizant of the fact that there is no such thing as a “moderate” in Iran’s cleric system. Rouhani’s recent statements and political activities are evidence of this claim. Hassan Rouhani was one of the closest companions of Khomeini, the founder of this theocratic regime. Hassan Rouhani has repeatedly stated in his books that Israel has no right to be a country and state. Hassan Rouhani has been the Supreme Leader’s main advisor in Iran’s Supreme National Security Council where almost every policy that passes through it gets approved. While Iran has been enriching its nuclear program for the past years, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator has been Hassan Rouhani. He even stated in one of his campaign interviews that he actually “completed the nuclear program.” He clearly said that he made the West and international community buy his argument that Tehran has halted its nuclear program for two years, while Iran continued spinning its centrifuges.  Rouhani climbed the political ladder with the help of the Supreme Leader who has publicly announced his hostility and antagonism towards not only the governments of Israel and the United States but also towards the Israeli and American people. In a sermon during Friday prayers in Tehran, Khamenei stated that “it is incorrect, irrational, pointless and nonsense to say that we are friends of Israeli people.”

It goes without saying that Hassan Rouhani is a regime insider. Everything about his political ideology, writings, political career speaks loudly for itself — that he is not a “reformist” or “moderate.” Upon analysis of Iran’s political structure since the Islamic revolution, it is not a stretch to argue there has been no such thing as “moderate” president in Iranian politics. All presidents have expressed antagonism towards Israel, repressed their own people (particularly minority Christians and Bahai’s) and continued Tehran’s nuclear program. It is fascinating to observe that US president Barack Obama and his advisors are hoping and waiting until Iran’s new president makes a “breakthrough” in nuclear talks. Iran is clearly buying time.

It is an intriguing dilemma to ponder whether the Iranian clerics are so masterful in deceiving the Obama administration, or whether the Obama’s administration is delusional about Iran — considering the perseverance of Tehran’s defiance, as well as the overwhelming support for increased sanctions on Tehran coming from both US houses.

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  • Mladen_Andrijasevic
  • john

    I know that the author is an expert, phd on this topic and he has first-hand experience by growing up in the Middle East and Iran, but I would argue that Rouhani will make peace with the West and Israel.

  • Suzanne

    Why should we expect anything different from Obama? He was by far one of the most extreme liberal members of the Senate, which was available for anyone to see at the time of his first presidential campaign. It would have just taken a quick look on the internet to know this. But Americans don’t have time for such things and so voted for him anyway and then voted for him again. We got what we voted for. An extreme leftist in office who has surrounded himself with other extreme leftists. The problem is that many in the American electorate haven’t a clue about the difference between conservatism and liberalism and where both have led. We are uneducated politically and that’s putting it mildly. We don’t even have a clue about what policies made America great in the first place so therefore most don’t have the political knowledge to vote intelligently. So what’s the solution? A thought/suggestion? I hate to advocate for more government spending but perhaps this one policy should be made into law (which would save us a boatload of money in the long haul). This policy should be a mandatory, comprehensive program for people who wish to vote. Each program would have to be carefully monitored for ABSOLUTE political objectivity. These programs could give the American people the facts they need about both parties and their policies as well as the historical results of these policies both domestically and internationally. Most people want America strong, they also want America to give them the best life possible. If a case was made that Liberalism leads to gradual domestic impoverishment and

    international weakness perhaps enough of the people would forgo their need for instant gratification and vote intelligently.

  • La6Red9Nec

    The delusion is in the mind of the author of this article.

    AIPAC agents in the U.S. Congress, who pretend to be our representatives, have taken Obama’s Iran policy hostage. They take orders directly from their fundamentalist extremist bosses in Isreal and will make sure no American President will have a chance of rapprochement with Iran. They know full well that if Iran and the USA came to an agreement on the nuclear issue the biggest loser will be the Apartheid regime in Isreal.

    • Can Do Math

      It takes a potent mix of naivete and idiocy to think that Iran will ever come to an agreement on ending their nuclear program. There is no chance of rapprochement with an Islamofacist regime bent on the destruction of Israel and the U.S.

  • Ellman48

    “It is an intriguing dilemma to ponder whether the Iranian clerics are so
    masterful in deceiving the Obama administration, or whether the Obama’s
    administration is delusional about Iran — considering the perseverance
    of Tehran’s defiance, as well as the overwhelming support for increased
    sanctions on Tehran coming from both US houses.”

    What do the President, the House, the Senate and the Supreme Court have in common? They all consist of lawyers. My personal opinion is that lawyers have done more to harm this nation than anyone besides unions. Yet their baneful effect on our lives has never been studied or discussed. How have they managed to avoid scrutiny for so long?

  • Brian Murphy

    the Islamic threat is on the march world wide and the Arab Spring has helped this; Millions of Christians have been forced out of many countries in the Middle East; they are being murdered too in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and North African countries. there are Jihadists and about 10,000 Al Qaida fighters fighting with the rebels in Syria and these are highly dangerous psychopaths who are being armed with high tech hardware by U.S. I think Assad seems more “civilised ” but with murderous Muslims u never can judge as they are all murderers and they hope to kill all non Muslims. Iran is a Satanic country like all the other Islamic countries; controlled by evil sinister Mullah “clerics” who hate all forms of life with their crazy Qur’an and polygamy. They execute gays and lesbians,prostitutes etc as a sacriicial offering to their Allah like the Incas did 2000 years ago; human sacrifice to appease the spirits. The middle east is worrying; Putin might keep the lid on it; as Obama has blown his cover with the Muslim Brotherhood and now he is trying to be on both sides .The Jews are in “double talk” “peace talks” but they are stealing land at the same time and building everywhere so the talks will go no where which is what the Jews always wanted for the last 40 or 50 years just lies to rob more land.while the Palestinians live in filth with no water, which the Jews use for swimming pools;I saw a photo of a man being arrested by Jews for taking water for his family how have no water and his little child was crying as his father was dragged away. No mercy from the Jews; no humanity; just lust for money and comforts.If the world order could broker some kind of deal for Palestine it would help world peace a lot long term as this is the big issue with Muslims worldwide. Why does U.S. give unlimited aid to Jews who refuse to make peace with Palestine but continue to steal their land and mistreat them.