Ayatollah Khamenei and President Obama

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, gave an important policy speech on Thursday. In part, he was reacting to President Barack Obama’s remarks on Iran in his Super Tuesday press conference. While it contained a rare note of praise for the US president, the speech missed an opportunity to encourage negotiations and compromise.

These are the main points Khamenei made:

1. Khamenei praised President Obama for saying that the US had no present plans to go to war with Iran, and that Washington is content to let sanctions play out. The Iranian leader said,

” Two days ago, we heard the president of America say: “We are not thinking of war with Iran.” This is good. Very good. It is a wise word. This is an exit from illusion.”

2. Khamenei rejected, however, Obama’s contention that financial sanctions would cause Iran to mothball its civilian nuclear enrichment program. He said,

“In addition, he also said: “We will defeat the Iranian people with sanctions.” Not an exact quote. This is an illusion. The exit from illusion in the first part is good. The remaining within illusion, in the second part, will damage them. When one’s plans are based on illusion and not on realities, it is obvious that one will fail in plans based on such illusions. This is the reality.”

3. Khamenei gives as one piece of evidence that Obama is wrong about sanctions the enthusiasm with which Iranians voted in last month’s parliamentary elections. “The real majority that came to the scene, which was one of the highest turnouts during the past 33 years.” the ayatollah said.

4. Iran’s Supreme Leader maintains that the heavy turnout and enthusiasm show that people are still committed to the Islamic Republic and are unconcerned with the economic difficulties caused by US and international sanctions.

5. Khamenei reaffirms the importance of the elective sector of politics in the Islamic Republic. After the upheaval of 2009, some wondered whether he might not move away from a representative system. But he said

“This is our model, the model of the Islamic democracy. Islamic democracy the spirit, the main part and the main source of which consists of Islam. It should never be violated, there have not been any violations and with the help of God there never will be. Islam is our axis in the law, in creating laws and in choosing people. Democracy is the shape of the work, the essence of the work and the method of management.”

He also insists that the Iranian youth (reputedly among the more secular populations in the Middle East) have not in fact turned away from Islam.

That Iran has any vestiges of democracy, when who can run for parliament is so circumscribed or elective officials so easily overruled by Khamenei, is a questionable proposition. And every evidence is that the youth are not in fact interested in Khamenei’s form of government.

Khamenei much strengthened his position in parliament, and his tone of confidence reflects this buttressing of his importance.

Despite his backhanded compliment to President Obama for giving up the fantasy of military action against Iran, Khamenei offered nothing to Washington. He pledged that sanctions would not ‘defeat’ Iran. He made no concessions. This ungracious refusal to offer any sort of compromise, any opening, was unwise.

5 Responses

  1. So has Obama (and his military and political cadre) truly given up the dream (another word for “fantasy”) of “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran?” I don’t see that. And Khameini is a-doubling down on the “enemy-think” thing.

    So sad that the lives and livelihoods of so many ordinary people, in the Iranian pseudo-democracy and in the fading American Republic and elsewhere, depend on the durable illusions and macho posturing and punk tough-guyism and simple self-serving greed and ambition of “leaders,” or more accurately “rulers,” intent on securing their own positions and screwing the real wealth creators and cannon fodder who make their gaming and parasitism possible. Rulers who apparently only know how to play Powerball in the Great Game, that how many times now has resulted, ineluctably, in idiot blood-letting and other ego-satisfying and profitable destruction, with dang-all zero “creation” out of the rubble and body parts except for what the remaining hard workers and irrepressibly hopeful can manage against all the predation.

    Such idiot images we are ruled by: “Don’t change horses in midstream.” “Don’t leave the ship without a rudder.” “Those people over there want to kill you, and maybe take your stuff if it’s not too radioactive. They are your ENEMY! Go get ‘em!” “I’m the only [President] [Supreme Ruler] [Beloved Leader] you’ve got…” “G_d let no new thing arise.”

    Things always seem rosier in the Spring…

  2. This is all about negotiations – the words and actions of both sides. This is going to get worked out eventually around the bargaining table. What everyone is doing now is jockeying for a favorable position and trying to put forward the strongest face possible.

    In that light, it doesn’t bother me that Khamenei is, as the kids say, frontin’. He’s willing to sit down at the table, or have someone sit there for him, and public bluster is just a part of that.

  3. Khamenei offered faint praise….Amen and hallaleulia!

    I shudder to think what the GO-Pee party would do with any praise given to Obama from any source, let alone from Ali Khamenei….

    It is cautionary but hopeful that a ‘signal’ was sent that acknowledges Obama’s “exit from illusion”..as this dad-ratted hardline mantle all candidates wear to show their cred is nerve wracking …Are these your own personal translations or are they from another tranlator service? I did not observe any citation about these translations….thank you!

  4. What I don’t get is why Iran doesn’t just renounce the anti-proliferation treaty as something it signed under the regime of a US puppet, namely the Shah. I am not an international law expert, so I ask Professor Cole, why could Iran not do this?

    Since Israel has refused to sign the treaty and by all accounts has many nukes, it is hard to see why Irancould not take a similar stance. From the Iranian public relations perspective this would also draw attention to Israel’s refusal to sign, which I doubt many Americans are even aware of.

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