Fruitful negotiations: Khamenei calls for "Death to America"

I’ve seen a lot of you scoffing at the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the P5+ 1, demonstrating a disturbing lack of faith in John Kerry’s bargaining skills and the long term goals of our president. This is, of course, highly cynical of you. We are clearly on the brink of a new era of responsible partnership with Iran. Why, look what their Supreme Leader said just this weekend!

Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei called for “Death to America” on Saturday, a day after President Barack Obama appealed to Iran to seize a “historic opportunity” for a nuclear deal and a better future, and as US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed substantial progress toward an accord.

Khamenei told a crowd in Tehran that Iran would not capitulate to Western demands. When the crowd started shouting, “Death to America,” the ayatollah responded: “Of course yes, death to America, because America is the original source of this pressure.

I’m sure those of you showing blind loyalty to Bibi Netanyahu and criticizing the White House are feeling pretty silly now. Obviously the Iranians are negotiating in good faith.

This comes as something of a contrast to Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali-Akbar Salehi, who earlier described the meetings as a turning point. Salehi went on to say that his nation was in favor of transparency and a win-win approach. Of course, when he said “win-win” I think he was intending that we believe one of the “wins” would be on our side.

This is all too typical of negotiations with Iran, and we saw pretty much the same thing when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still in power. (The phrase “in power” is used in a tongue in cheek fashion here, since that office holds no actual power in the country.) There has been a public relations branch of the Iranian government since the revolution, but it’s pretty much for the benefit of the UN and CNN International. Hassan Rouhani doesn’t seem to be any different, except for being somewhat less entertaining on television than his predecessor.

But even as the “civilian government” leadership holds press conferences and attends negotiations, the real power in the nation preaches to the masses with a message that hasn’t changed since I was in the Navy back in the day. “Death to America” is nothing new in Iran, but this recent speech is a good reminder of precisely who we are dealing with. The puppets at the negotiating table can sign off on anything they want, but the people who make the actual decisions are not in attendance. They’re busy back home giving inspirational speeches.

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