This Expert Analysis discusses how the failure of the USA to adequately understand Iran’s power structures may have detrimental consequences for global security. The Analysis, “How Well Does Washington Understand Iran?”, produced in coordination with The National Interest (originally appearing at The National Interest “What Washington Doesn’t Get about Iran”, 31 May 2016 http://nationalinterest.org/feature/what-washington-doesnt-get-about-iran-16411 ), is an in depth study into how the USA is failing to adequately understand the dangers posed by Iran’s leadership and the consequences this has on global security. Futhermore, it provides extensive data to show how the religious leaders of Iran use strong suppression and violence to keep the domestic population under control and as part of the nation’s foreign policy and sectarian agenda.
Bloomfield and Sepehrrad provide evidence of how the Iranian government actually works in creating an authoritarian system. They make clear that Iran’s political power lies with the appointed individuals, such as the Supreme Leader, who in turn has the authority to appoint key figures such as the leader of the armed forces and the security council. The elected leaders, such as the President and the Parliament, have a very limited role in the actual exercise of power and certainly are unable to bring about any real reform to the Iranian system. The elections of President Rafsanjani in 1990, President Khatami in 1997 and his proposed “Dialogue of Civilizations” were read by the USA government as having real potential for change with Iran. However, these elections did not result in any measurable change in the conduct of the Iranian government. This Analysis explains how in the wake of these “reformist” elections Iran continued to sponsor terrorist activity overseas in Germany and Argentina along with the assassination of opponents to the regime living in exile. Rafsanjani’s “Dialogue of Civilizations” was met internally by the security services upping their actions of domestic oppression. Clearly Iran is playing upon the West’s desire for reform by pretending such change may be possible, when in reality reform is not a consideration for the leaders.