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The Radical Ideology Behind Iran’s Islamic Totalitarianism

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Iran is a totalitarian, revolutionary, and Islamic nation. In this regime, ideology is everything. That is why, when Tehran talks about annihilating Israel, it means what it says. In appeasement, Tehran sees a weak enemy and pushes to strengthen itself to continue its attacks. The revolution is tied to an ideology from which it cannot deviate because, if it weakens, the regime collapses.

Since 1979 Tehran has upheld revolutionary objectives that justify totalitarian repression at home in order to export its revolution to its neighbors and the whole world. The founder of Iranian totalitarianism, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, introduced a new and revolutionary idea in Shiite Islam. It remade the traditional Shiite clerical tutelage of the needy Velayat-e Faqih into new political totalitarianism which can be summarized in the following: The ayatollah, through the Shiite clergy, shall totally guard the Islamic state and its entire population as a power destined to rule the whole world.

Khomeini’s Jihad, or holy war, is tied to that revolutionary theology which could be considered heresy in Muslim tradition, so fighting “bad Muslims” has been as important to Tehran as fighting unfaithful people. Khomeini’s totalitarian, violent and expansive goal in his modern revolutionary interpretation of the Quran [8:60] was incorporated into the Iranian constitution thus:

“The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps are to be organized in conformity with this goal, and they will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God’s way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God’s law throughout the world.”

Iran (Islamic Republic of)’s Constitution of 1979 with Amendments through 1989

Khomeini, always affirmed: “We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry ‘There is no god but Allah’ resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle” because he clarified that “if one permits an infidel to continue in his role as a corrupter of the earth, the infidel’s moral suffering will be all the worse. If one kills the infidel, and this stops him from perpetrating his misdeeds, his death will be a blessing to him,” for which he insisted that “all those against the revolution must disappear and quickly be executed.

Iranian clerics burn US flags during a rally marking the 43rd anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, at the Azadi (Freedom) square in Tehran, Iran, 11 February 2022.

True to Khomeini’s revolutionary theology, his successor Ayatollah Khamenei has insisted that Iran may well end in ashes for Islam to rule the world. Khamenei summed up Tehran’s revolutionary theology in one phrase: “Islam is politics or it is nothing.” He clarified his notion of politics and ideological “rationality” of aims by stating:

“We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”

Tehran sponsors terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, responsible for terrorist attacks, such as the bombing that cost the lives of 241 American Marines in Beirut in 1983, the 1984 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the bombing of the USS Cole in October 2000; Hamas, responsible for a bloody coup against the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and countless missile attacks against Israel; and the Houthi militias that maintain a civil war in Yemen and launched terrorist attacks against the Saudi kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. For tactical political realism, Tehran even logistically supported terrorist attacks by the Sunni fundamentalist Al Qaeda on September 11, for which a US federal court ordered Iran to pay $7.5 billion in compensation to the families of the victims.

Tehran is the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism and will not cease to be so as long as it is expansive revolutionary totalitarianism willing to transform its own soil and its own people into ashes to achieve its ideological goals. Refusing to see it for what it really is is among the worst mistakes the Biden administration stubbornly insists on.

Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros

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