The Islamic Republic greeted Obama’s election in 2008 with mixed emotions. On the one hand, the Iranian regime worried that Obama’s barrier-breaking achievement and inspiring life story might appeal to the average Iranian in a way unmatched by any previous U.S. president.
On the other, the Iranian regime continued to believe that its lifelong rivalry with the United States is the result of flatly irreconcilable differences: what it sees as Washington’s unshakable opposition to the Iranian revolution, unqualified and limitless support for Israel, and insistence on competing with Iran for influence over the Middle East.
If Obama’s election didn’t change Tehran’s view of U.S. policy, it’s hard to see how Hagel’s nomination could. After all, America’s war-weariness is no secret, and it’s hardly limited to Vietnam veterans such as Hagel. Iranian decision-makers can read The New York Times and watch CNN like anyone else, and they understand the reluctance, both among America’s people and elites, to go to war against Iran over its nuclear program.