Iranian leaders continually reinforce their worldview that they are at war with the U.S.
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The national security policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is designed to prevail in the war Tehran believes the United States and Israel are waging against it. Supreme Leader Khamenei declared in March that international sanctions on Iran became “an all-out war” against Iran in 2011. He denied that sanctions have anything to do with Iran’s nuclear program: “One day, their excuse is the nuclear issue and another day, it is the issue of the enrichment. One day, it is human rights and another day, it is other such issues. Sanctions existed against us before the nuclear issue was brought up and they will continue to exist…even if the nuclear issue and these negotiations are resolved.” He sees American enmity in everything: “From the beginning the enemy has made extensive efforts, and the more we advance, the clearer their work becomes. They use thousands of TV networks, radio programs, and the internet to curse the Islamic Republic.” He even blames us for al Qaeda: “Today Takfiri groups are working against Islam and Shi’as in certain regions and carrying out evil acts, but they are not the main enemies. The main enemy is the one who provokes them and provides them with money.” Even the supposedly reformist Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani declared in 2010: “Radical Islamic groups such as al Qaeda and the Taliban are the creatures of the espionage service of the United States and the West.”
These are not isolated statements. The Iranian national security leadership regularly repeats and expands on them. Tehran has evolved a national security strategy around the concept of “soft war” that seeks to defeat the supposedly subtle and complex efforts of the US and Israel to destroy Iran with everything from smart missiles to internet pornography. This strategy sees any American influence in the Middle East as anathema and a mortal threat, and its goal is the complete expulsion of the US, the destruction of Israel, and the creation of a Persian hegemony. The Islamic Republic sees itself as the revolutionary vanguard that will overturn the current immoral, unjust, and infidel world-order in favor of its preferred religious-ideological vision. Iran seeks to be not merely a great-power rival to the US, but a force to destroy the US-dominated (from Tehran’s perspective) world system.