The key point is this: Zarif’s homage to Mughniyeh, combined with Araghchi’s boast that Iran’s nuclear activities are continuing, combined with Rouhani’s announcement that America and other world powers have “surrendered,” speaks volumes. It says that for the Iranian side, “Negotiations do not require concessions. Negotiations are a tool for us to receive concessions.” Actually, Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari said exactly that.
Many of the most influential members of “the foreign-policy community” are convinced that such rhetoric is without significance — that it’s just for “domestic consumption.” Within Iran, they believe, a great debate is taking place between “hardliners” and “moderates.” They see Rouhani as the latter.
They don’t grasp that the Supreme Leader is called the Supreme Leader for a reason. During the popular upheaval that followed Iran’s fraudulent elections in 2009, tens of thousands protested in the streets, yelling “Death to the dictator!” They knew what they were talking about — even if many in the West did not.
And so, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, the dominant narrative has become that the negotiations now underway offer “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” Those of us who dissent from that view are denounced as “warmongers.”
Or, as news analyst-cum-humorist Jon Stewart told his millions of fans last week, “for the first time in decades” the U.S. is on the verge of reestablishing “diplomatic relations with Iran and a means of ensuring that they would not have a nuclear weapon. Just so long as nobody comes in and figuratively throws eggs at the entire thing.”
Stewart went on to accuse Democrats and Republicans in Congress — at least 59 senators and a clear majority in the House — of doing exactly that by attempting to pass a bill that would put Iran’s rulers on notice that tough new sanctions will be imposed if they fail to make significant concessions over the next six months — if they refuse to dismantle their nuclear-weapons programs in exchange for the sanctions relief the U.S. has already begun providing.
At this critical juncture, you might expect Iran’s rulers to do all they can to make this spin more credible, to at least give American leaders a face-saving way to “surrender.” Apparently, they see no need. They figure they can tell the truth about American retreat and do pretty much as they please on the nuclear portfolio. They are confident that American and other Western diplomats, politicians, and pundits will continue to place their faith in the ability of international inspectors to stop a regime that has spent decades engaging in nuclear mendacity and the slaughter of Americans. No compelling evidence contradicts their thesis.
— Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security.