Like all theocracies throughout history, Ruhollah Mostafavi Musavi Khomeini’s doctrine of Velayat-i-Faghih, the absolute power of guardianship of divinely qualified Jurists over all Muslims, attempted to blend political expediency and religious utilitarianism. By declaring the regime Islamic, he granted himself divine power, and thus freed himself of any control that the Shi’ite Grand Ayatollahs within and outside Iran might have exercised on his policies. Simultaneously, by designating the form of government Republican, he seemed to suggest that the theocracy, at least to a certain extent, would share power with the people. In reality, Khomeini’s scheme had resulted in a Mullahcracy that could be neither legitimized by free elections nor could be justified by the religious tenets of Islam. The result had been a deformed medieval autocracy characterized by a deceptive religious ideology based on lies.
Thus, from its inception, the Islamic Republic of Iran had been a Janus-faced political monster devoid of any real legitimacy. In this manner, suspended between religious falsehoods and a fatal political vacuum, Iran’s Mullahcracy was forced to seek its legitimacy in creating an even bigger falsehood, the bogus myth of permanent foreign threat by foreign enemies, both Muslims and non- Muslims, against the only true defenders of Allah’s sovereignty. Accordingly, less than a year after Khomeini’s accession to power, the doctrine of the “export of the Islamic revolution” was born. Khomeini’s hatred and hostility towards the West in general and the United States in particular were rooted in his fear that the Judeo- Christian civilization is in every respect superior to Islam. Intentionally trying to humiliate the leader of the West he ordered the seizure of the American Embassy. Almost simultaneously with this illegal act, he provoked Iraq into a senseless war consciously designed to systematically destroy his opposition within the military and beyond. Under Sayed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Khomeini’s successor, Tehran’s internal oppression and external aggression had continued unabated. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza strip, known as the Shi’ite crescent, had become integral parts of Iran’s geographical and ideological “Lebensraum.”
After the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, the West’s room for maneuver vis-a-vis Iran had been limited by the lack of a unified strategy. Tehran, on the other hand, had consistently pursued the policy of dividing the West and controlling both the narrative and the agenda in its interactions with the United States and the European Union. Instead of playing by the rules, the regime had made mockery of international law by promoting, in the name of Islam, terrorism, hostage taking, assassinations and sheer violence against both the West and the other Islamic countries. In mid-August 2002, the National Council of Resistance for Iran revealed the existence of the secret Natanz uranium enrichment facility. A second site at Arak contained a heavy water production plant and a reactor. This revelations combined with Tehran’s announcements concerning the mass production of the Shahab-3, Shahab 4 and the Ghadr missiles, had clearly indicated that the regime is weaponizing its nuclear program. Since then, Tehran’s nuclear ambitions had been accompanied by blatant lies and deceptions toward the International Atomic Energy Agency and the rest of the world. Meanwhile, in theory both the Bush as well as the Obama administrations had left open the possibility of military action against Tehran. At the same time, the United States’ European allies repeatedly had ruled out military action, even if diplomacy would fail. Currently, the 5+1 negotiations with Iran are going nowhere. The group that includes, in addition to the United States, Great Britain, France and Germany, Russia and China, is hopelessly disunited. Unsurprisingly, Tehran holds firm and continues to pursue its thus far successful diplomacy of lies, denials and obfuscation.
From a strategic perspective, this state of affairs is unacceptable. Even without nuclear weapons Iran is a pivotal destabilizing factor in a volatile Middle East and a troubled South East Asia. The regime in Tehran is not a democracy. On the contrary, the ruling Mullahs are a horror-stricken minority characterized by pathological fear of the Iranian people and irrational paranoia of real and imaginary external threats. As the events of 2009 demonstrated, the Iranian people are too cultured, educated and civilized to be terrorized for ever by a minuscule number of clerics whose governing incompetence and naked corruption stymie progress and prosperity. Devoid of the consent of the people, discredited by the abuse of its own religion, and loathed for its vicious oppression, Khomeini’s regime survives on borrowed time. Consequently, to base a sound strategy on the longevity of such an uncertain existence is not just risky, but clearly fraught with a significant degree of self- defeating political stupidity.
Barack Obama’s policy of appeasement has proved to be totally ineffective and consequently a huge international embarrassment for the United States. Lacking any real knowledge of a maddeningly complex country and having viewed the Mullahcracy through the filter of Valerie Jarrett, Obama was predestined to ￼misunderstand the true nature of Khomeini’s construct. Even the sight of millions of demonstrators mostly in their late teens and early twenties in the summer of 2009 did not cause Obama and his advisors to reevaluate America’s policy of appeasement toward a regime that found itself in total disarray. Then, the fraudulent presidential elections unmasked the illegitimacy of Iran’s clerical rulers. There was a government violating its own contradictory principles of ruling in the name of God with the full consent of the entire population. In addition, the ruin of the national economy caused everybody to suffer and for the first time since the Mullahs assumed absolute power the people woke up and begun to protest. More than eighty percent of the population, mostly members of a new generation that were born after 1979, demanded the end of the rule of the Mullahs and the establishment of a truly democratic Iran. Yet, the Obama Administration remained passive, even indifferent to the bloody terror that the regime unleashed on its own people. Clearly, appeasement had not been a constructive strategy. On the contrary, it had remained an embarrassing excuse for inaction and a barely disguised promotion of the same lies that conceal the terror and overall thuggery of an illegitimate autocracy.
In 1979, Khomeini declared universal war in the name of his convoluted interpretation of Islam not only on the ￼United States and Israel but on the entire world. From a religious and ideological perspective, his successors still could not justify the ubiquitous claim of world domination by the “Supreme Leader” of the Mullahcracy. From a military point of view, Iran has strived to become a global threat. By having done so, Tehran has committed the same miscalculations and errors that all former inspiring countries did. Khamenei and his team are mistaken in their evaluation of the West’s vulnerabilities. Faced with increased nuclear threat, the West will unite against Iran and will defeat the regime militarily decisively.
As far as the ideological warfare is concerned, the United States and the rest of the world is in a commanding position. The only reason for the relative domestic calmness in Iran is the lack of an organized opposition, due to lack of leadership and a clear alternative. Yet, creating an institutionalized platform within a highly receptive population is a real possibility. Since the current regime cannot be reformed, the United States must actively promote the establishment of an organized opposition with a credible reform agenda. Thus, instead of trying to appease the Mullahs, the United States must demonstrate that it is with the vast majority of Iranians who want change. In communicating such a policy, the United States must lead the media to embrace the political and ideological debate between the West and Tehran.
￼The media should also promote a new band of potential leaders, independent of the regime.
Since Iranian society is multi-ethnic, the political and ideological messaging must be finely tuned and sophisticated. Iran’s population had more than doubled since 1979. This means that almost three-fourth of the population is under the age of thirty five and has no recollection of the pre-Khomeini era. These young Iranians are well educated and despise the primitive religious ideology of the generally poorly educated Mullahs. They are also more patriotic and reject the political and ideological universality of the Mullahcracy. In 2013, by the government’s own admission, close to sixty percent of the Iranians between the ages of twenty five and thirty five were unemployed. The lack of economic progress is a major reason for the youth’s utter disgust with the regime. Moreover, the dearth of jobs is the main reason for the disintegration of the traditional family structure and the increasing prevalence of drug addiction and other social ills.
Islam is no more the foundation of Iranian society. In increasing numbers, the Iranian people consider Islam as a foreign import and embrace Zoroastrianism as their spiritual heritage. Because the regime seeks legitimacy in Islam and the vast majority of the people in political freedom, intellectual diversity, and traditional spirituality, Iranian society exists in an insoluble contradiction. Irrational fundamentalism collides with the people’s desire for modernity. Appeasement embraces the former and denies the latter the promise of a better future. By its very essence, the United States cannot stand for autocracy and terror in the name of a false religious doctrine that makes a mockery of Islam. Leadership calls for responsible foreign policy. Appeasement is an unequivocal abdication of such a responsibility. It is time for the United States to rethink its failed approach to Tehran and begin to reformulate its policy in the spirit of its founding principles.