Iran has been a challenge for every President since Jimmy Carter. Despite an assumed understanding of what drives the leadership in Iran and how their religious beliefs embolden them in ways the western world generally fails to comprehend, we have always dealt with them based on a belief that we can somehow reason with them.
We cannot. As the only nation in the world in which Twelver Shia Islam as the declared state religion, it’s a mistake to believe they will act in ways that make sense to us. This is why they bomb ships and lie about it. It’s why they took a huge sum of money from the Obama administration and “invested” it in terrorists, proxies, and massive propaganda campaigns instead of building their economy. It’s why they feel justified to shoot down a drone over international waters while claiming it breached their airspace even though the evidence clearly makes them out to be liars.
They are liars, and they’re okay with that. Lying is acceptable in their radical religious beliefs as long as they’re lying to infidels.
Some may argue it’s not that simple, but it truly is.
Most Americans are not familiar with the extreme differences in the various Islamic sects. Twelver Shia Islam is particularly difficult to understand because we’re not accustomed to operating with or against a government that is driven by the belief they MUST antagonize their enemies and cause turmoil across the globe in order to achieve their goal of preparing the world for the return of the Mahdi.
One of the biggest differences between modern Christianity and Shia Islam is separation of church and state. We have leaders who are often driven by their faith, but this usually does not manifest in direct correlation with the possible exception of the abortion issue. That’s not to say a Biblical worldview does not play into every decision some politicians make, but most of them operate with their religion as a guide while secular considerations are taken mostly into account on policy decisions.
In Iran, there is no distinction. ALL political choices are made within the framework of their religious beliefs. No major decision is made without reckoning how it will advance their belief system, spread it, or harm those who oppose it. This is why Presidents Carter, Bush, and Obama desperately failed to comprehend how to handle Iran properly. President Trump seems to have a better understanding, or at least better advisers. His decision to call off the strike against Iran at the last moment was the right move because within Iran’s belief system, prompting an enemy to strike is not a punishment. It’s a goal.
All of the hot takes I’ve been reading on Twitter about whether or not to attack Iran have come from a perspective that doesn’t take their motivations into account. Some are saying we must attack or appear weak. But that’s not the case. Whether we attack or not, Iran will view our actions as weak. Others are saying if we go to the negotiating table, we can avert war. This is equally wrong. Iran will not go to the negotiating table with us. They’ll try to subvert our authority by negotiating with EU nations or the United Nations, but they do not negotiate with enemies, namely the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Israel, except in one very specific circumstance.
The reason they were willing to sit in a room with former Secretary of State John Kerry is because they believed they had the upper hand. They felt they had someone in Kerry they could manipulate and a President in Obama they could bully. And it worked. They achieved their goals without giving up essentially anything. They believe they will have nuclear weapons capabilities when the time is right. It doesn’t matter whether that’s tomorrow, when the nuclear deal ended, or any time in between. Whatever it took to secure their status and increase their leverage, that’s what they were willing to do and say.
Twelvers believe in free will. They look at the world as currently being in the end times. They believe the 12th Imam is coming back as soon as they’re able to prepare themselves, the Middle East, and the rest of the world for his leadership. That means they do not believe they can possibly lose. If they fail in any maneuver, it’s a delay, not an end. If they achieve success, it’s their actions that have helped hasten the return of their messiah. That’s how they think. But they do not believe it’s within the realm of possibility that they could ever fall. From their perspective, setbacks may come but nothing catastrophic can happen to them. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the end times.
Americans must understand Iran’s false resolve established by the delusional belief they’re incapable of losing. This is why Iran does things that haven’t made sense to us in four decades. If we understand this, we can understand why they do what they do.
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