A Source of Khomeinist Conduct?
The Persian Version of the ancient Deutsch "Führerprinzip" - the autocratical concept of one cat calling all the shots for an entire nation state and all her attendant peoples had to go up against an Iranian pop pop population that had a high degree of secular modernization in those wild wack Revolutionary days.
Prison, executions, torment and worse were the meds needed to swing Persia's body politic into the unfree and unfun "Khomeinist" way of thinking, living and of course - dying.
“It is an undeniable privilege of every man to prove himself right in the thesis that the world is his enemy,” Kennan wrote of Soviet leaders’ paranoia. “For if he reiterates it frequently enough and makes it the background of his conduct he is bound eventually to be right.” The observation applies equally well to Tehran, where paranoia and messianic fervor combine to create a dangerously neurotic leadership class.
Khomeinism is a self-reinforcing ideology: The disapproval of the international community and their own people’s discontent only affirm adherents in the rightness of their cause. The recent rise of Islamic radicalism, albeit of the Sunni variety, looks to Tehran like a new opportunity for resurrecting pan-Islamism.
It is this intersection of ideology and circumstance which explains the Iranians’ intransigence, and which renders Western attempts to reach a negotiated settlement to the nuclear crisis highly unlikely to succeed. Even if a particular actor within the Iranian regime were open to rapprochement, the system as a whole is designed to perpetuate existential enmity against the West. No Iranian leader can make nice with “global arrogance” after all the misery inflicted on Iranians in the name of defying it.
Permanent enmity against the West, the cornerstone of Khomeini and Shariati’s worldviews, is thus a basic condition of the regime’s existence.
When Ahmadinejad claims that the “Imam of the Ages” directs the events of the Arab Spring against the “Satanic” West, he is dead-serious. When he denies the Holocaust, he is not merely expressing frustration with the lack of progress on the peace process; he means business.
Yet such rhetoric—not to mention the cries of “Death to America” and “Death to Little Satan” regularly emanating from Tehran—has become a quotidian fact of life for most Western leaders. We either dismiss it as the inchoate rage of a mysterious land or else try to justify it as a reaction to legitimate postcolonial grievances.
Khomeinism shouldn’t be condescended to in this way. It is an alternative vision of the world that sees itself in competition with the liberal order led by Great Satan.
If this fact has eluded us, especially during 44's era of “engagement”, it is because we have forgotten a lesson we mastered during the Cold War: namely, how to think and fight ideologically. We will not win the contest with Tehran if we insist on proposing economic and diplomatic solutions to what is fundamentally a moral and ideological problem.
The Iranian regime is convinced—mistakenly—that the West is actively undermining Khomeinism as an ideology and a way of life.
Woe unto to them once we actually set our minds to it.
Pic - "Americans have a fundamental strategic interest in seeing a change of leadership in Iran."