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Iran Is Behaving Like a Normal Country

President Trump and Supreme Leader Ali Khameinei. CreativeCommons, Shutterstock.

The Iranian government wasn’t interested in whatever Trump had to say in the message that Japanese Prime Minister Abe delivered for him:

Iran’s supreme leader told visiting Japanese prime minister on Thursday he does not consider US President Donald Trump “worthy” of exchanging messages with.

“We have no doubt in your good will and seriousness but regarding what you said the US president told you, I don’t consider Trump as a person worthy of exchanging messages with,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Shinzo Abe, in footage of their meeting aired by state television in a rarity for such high-level talks.

“I have no response for him and will not answer him,” he added.

Iran “has no trust in America and will not in any way repeat the bitter experience of the previous negotiations with America,” Khamenei said in comments published by his official website.

Khamenei’s response is unsurprising, and it is consistent with the statements Iranian officials have been making for months. Iranian officials have been saying all along that they won’t negotiate while they are under the pressure campaign, and they have said they don’t trust Trump or his administration because Trump reneged on the agreement. It is a measure of the president’s arrogance and ignorance that he thinks that the U.S. can break its word, reimpose sanctions that our government promised to lift, add even more sanctions, and then expect Iran’s government to negotiate with the same people that just betrayed them. The Iranian position will probably be portrayed as proof that their government is behaving unreasonably, but their behavior over the last thirteen months has been very understandable and also quite mild considering the fact that the U.S. is waging relentless economic war on them.

The administration often tries to sell its “maximum pressure” campaign as a means to force Iran to negotiate, but it has predictably had the opposite effect. “Maximum pressure” has killed any chance for dialogue in the near future, and when we consider who supports the pressure campaign we have to assume that this was their real goal from the start. The administration is not and has never been interested in serious negotiations that would result in a mutually acceptable compromise. Their interest has been to force Iran to make such extensive and humiliating concessions that it amounts to regime change in all but name, and failing that they hope to destabilize the Iranian government to such an extent that it collapses. The normal reaction of a normal country under the circumstances is to reject the unreasonable and unrealistic demands that the U.S. is making.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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