Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Said ‘Death to America’. So, What?

As the peaceful negotiations over a nuclear deal with Iran happily make their way to a resolution, many opponents of the current deal (or any deal with Iran) raise irrelevant alarm bells over some of the rhetoric that emanates from the Iranian leadership.  A recent example was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s agreement with a crowd chanting “Death to America” during one of his public appearances and the ensuing backlash from Western opponents over the situation.  While it may not be the most pleasing thing to hear, it should be taken for what it is in the grand scheme of things: empty rhetoric to please his people and nothing more.

“Ali Khamenei” by User:Seyedkhan. Wikimedia Commons

In fact, if we were to step back from the situation and look at it objectively, it’s a perfectly rational thing for him to say.  It’s what leaders and politicians do.  They talk tough and make promises they have no intention or capability of keeping in order to keep their people behind them.  What would it look like if he did anything else?  What would he be saying?  I’m guessing it would go something like:

“People of Iran.  This is your Supreme Leader announcing to you that we will be letting the U.S. and Israel run our country however they please.  I know.  I know.  They were directly involved in the military overthrow of our democratically elected leader in 1953 and installed a ruthless dictatorship that we had to overthrow.  They were also responsible for the Stuxnet cyber attack, an action one of these countries has officially and hypocritically declared is an act of war.  But we can totally trust them now and I’m sure we will be the best run Western colony in the history of the world!”

Yeah, it would be completely ridiculous.

But hey, let’s remember that all spoken rhetoric eventually comes true.  Just look at all the things Iranian leaders have said in the past and then carried out that have been 100% prophetic, such as “Death to Russia”, “Death to England”, “Death to France”, “Death to Israel”, and “Death to Saddam” (not Iraq).   Oh, the overwhelming nostalgia!  Remember France before Iran destroyed it?  So much culture and fancy paintings.  It was almost like being in modern day Paris!

The point is, rhetoric is just talk and it should be expected to be tough and reflect a self-interest for whoever is speaking.  The actions Iran is taking by negotiating with the P5+1 and seeking a peaceful resolution is what truly matters.  And just to drive the point home that Khamenei’s rhetoric should not be taken too literally, here are some more examples from history of rhetoric that either never came true or did not match the actions taken by the speaker.


 

“Fidel Castro8” by Antônio Milena/ABr – Agência Brasil [1]. Wikimedia
Fidel Castro, former Cuban President

I propose the immediate launching of a nuclear strike on the United States. (1992)

Yes, remember the Cuban nuclear missile strike on Florida in the ’90s?  The radiation hit some counties so hard they lost the ability to properly count votes in presidential elections.

Nikita Khrushchev, former Soviet Premier

Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will dig you in. (We will bury you.) (Remark to Western ambassadors, 1956)

It’s really unfortunate Western society was buried by Communist Russia in the 1950s.  But look at the bright side, comrades.  At least we all got really cool furry hats!

John McCain, former Maverick and current regretter of vice-presidential choices

That old, eh, that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran’.  Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah… (2007)

Really a missed opportunity here, folks.  Think of all the money the military industrial complex has missed out on with him losing in ’08.  There’s always 2016!

Hugo Chavez, former president of Venezuela

Let’s save the human race, let’s finish off the U.S. empire. (2006)

Coincidentally, he said this while in Iran.  Now we know where they got it from.  Peer pressure!

Ronald Reagan, former U.S. president

Wikimedia

President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment…I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. (1982)

Uncle Ronny was clearly a great judge of character.  Montt was, at the time, in the process of committing genocide in his own country, a crime he would eventually be found guilty for conducting (he is currently awaiting a new trial after the conviction was overturned in what appears to be a scheme to keep him out of prison until he dies).  Nicely done, Mr. Reagan!

Kim Jong-Il, former Supreme Leader of North Korea

I’m an Internet expert too. (2007)

No…just, no.  Kim was a bit of a recluse, as most know, but the state-run news agency did release direct statements that threatened to “wipe out” the United States while he was in charge.  Just another successfully unsuccessful bit of rhetoric.

Mother Nature, current ruler of Pangea

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men… (continues)

The quote is kind of long and is still being spoken.  But she’s getting pretty close to the end and I’m assuming what happens when she is done speaking is going to be pretty ugly for her constituents…

Richard Nixon, former U.S. president

“Nixon 30-0316a” by Hartmann. Wikimedia

I did not wait for my inauguration to begin my quest for peace (in Vietnam). (1969)

An absolute lie.  We now know that Nixon actually sabotaged peace talks with Vietnam in 1968 while still a candidate for the presidency and did so to help his own political campaign at home.  Just a disgusting moment in history.


The point of all this is to simply note that rhetoric can frequently mean little while the actions of the speaker can be something very different.  This reality should be particularly considered in the case of Iran as they have been logically talking tough against the West at times but, according to  U.S. and Israeli intelligence, shut down their nuclear weapons program years ago.   We should always remember that the phrase “all politics is local” doesn’t just apply to the United States and it should be no surprise when we hear some foreign leaders score points with their people by taking shots at us.  In fact, if you don’t expect that to happen, you should really tone down the hubris a bit.

Bottom line, Iran has come to the negotiating table and is making a deal.  If the GOP warfare queens in Congress decide to kill the deal and the situation eventually disintegrates into military actions, the blood of every American and Iranian that dies will be on their hands and history should properly place the blame squarely on each and every politician that turned away from peace.

Israel, Of Course, Against Lifting Iranian Sanctions

03941176As an article in The Post reports, Sec. of State John Kerry meets in Geneva to possibly freeze some of the most severe economic sanctions against Iran in an effort to stop uranium enrichment by the Middle Eastern state.

As the report says, and as usual, Netanyahu of Israel wants nothing to do with talks but rather wants what seems as  military action against Iran despite not coming out at saying it directly.

But listen to what Kerry says:

“Let me just ask you simply: Are we better off not talking to them, and they continue to build the capacity, and then we have an automatic military confrontation?” Kerry said. “Or are we better off having a freeze where they are today and take the program backward so that you expand the amount of time before they could break out? Which way is safer? It’s very clear to me how you’re safer.”

 

 

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Interesting Comments From Top Adviser to Iranian Leader

The top adviser to Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dished out a few comments worth noting in an interview with the AP recently.  After reaffirming the Ayatollah, and not new the new president, always has the last word on what happens with the country’s nuclear ambitions, he stated:

Velayati said Iran will not again suspend enrichment because Tehran had a bitter experience when it did so in 2003 as a confidence-building measure.

“We stopped any kind of enrichment for two years. What was the result? Nothing. Every day they used to put an extra claim on their former claims. Why must we repeat this experience?”

He could really take this a step further and point out sanctions have increased on Iran despite an admission of no evidence they are pursuing nuclear weapons by the West.

But we must address his point and ask: what does the West truly want if stopping the enrichment for two years did not appease their needs in a way that would end the situation?

And some may point to Iran’s backing of regimes not friendly to the West, such as Syria, as a reason for stronger sanctions.  Their backing of Assad is mentioned in the piece:

Velayati also said Iran will continue to support Bashar Assad’s government in Syria, which is fighting rebels backed by Western and some Arab states.

“We strongly believe that the government of Syria will remain in power,” he said. “The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t hesitate to help the Syrian people and the Syrian government to defend their rights and their territory and their territorial integrity.”

But there is an elephant in the room at the moment when it comes to the United States throwing stones about this: the U.S. continuing to fund the Egyptian military and the reluctance to call what is going on in Egypt a coup.

As long as the U.S. is willing to give aid to regimes in the world such as this, we really can’t expect Iran to back off giving aid to its allies.  It’s a hollow argument and it should be thrown right back in the face of any Western negotiator trying to pressure the Iranian regime on this issue.

New Cleric Fav Predicted to Win Iranian Presidential Election

JP-IRAN-articleLargeA presidential candidate is emerging in Iran that is even more conservative than Ahmadenijad. This article in the NYT reports how Saeed Jalili, with his expressed views very similar to those of head cleric Khamenei, is predicted to obtain 30% of the vote which would lead to a run-off election for president their. What does this mean for the possibility of future talks regarding Tehran’s nuclear ambitions should Jalili wins? And what does this mean for a possible democratic revolution that the Iranian people seemed to be on the verge of following the last presidential election which seemed to be fixed?

Read Here.