The extensive Iranian propaganda machinery abroad has long been able to create an illusion of a semblance of Iranian “democracy” with an ostensible “power struggle” between two types of Islamists dubbed “reformists” and “hardliners”. The question that must be asked however is whether there has been any substantial policy difference when the two respective Islamist alleged “camps” have been in power? Has regime oppression in society lessened when so-called “reformists” were in power? Has Iranian expansionism been any less aggressive during periods when “reformists” were in power? Have the so-called “reformists” been able to enact any “reforms” or have they even tried? The answer to those questions is a resounding no.
The West and the world have long fallen for the illusion of working with the so-called “reformists” but is there any real policy difference between the ”reformists” and the “hardliners” in actual practice? The answer is once more no. The real power does not lie in the hands of the “elected” president but with the unaccountable omnipotent totalitarian supreme leader Ali Khamenei. While in theory there are democratic structures with an “elected” parliament and an “elected” president, power is firmly in the hands of the omnipotent policymaker, the supreme leader. We should ask ourselves why foreigners so desperately want to cling to the belief that a totalitarian state has a democratic dimension to it when such a contradiction in fact is a sheer impossibility? Many other dictatorships have claimed to have democratic dimensions but none have been so successful in creating international credibility for themselves in this respect.
Let’s be clear, Iran is a cruel and ruthless totalitarian dictatorship which is more successful than any other dictatorship in modern history since Nazi Germany in sophisticated propaganda and diplomatic deception. The entire JCPOA debacle was borne out of this illusion of Iranian Islamist “reformism” that is in fact entirely unfounded and is based entirely on overseas Iranian propaganda about the regime according to which there is ostensibly substantial policy difference in actual practice between the two alleged “camps” of Islamism in Iran. There is in fact only one Islamist camp and that is the camp of the Supreme Leader himself.
When fashioning a new post-JCPOA Iran policy is it essential to learn from past mistakes in removing reliance on the old and failed Iran paradigm as relying on sophisticated overseas Iranian propaganda.
There is a global Cold War being fought by the global forces of Islamism and Jihadism. While this has most obviously been going on since September 11, 2001 was the opening shot in fact the Jihadist occupation of the American embassy in Tehran during the Islamist revolution in Iran in 1979. The Islamists are in fact winning the soft power dimension of this Second Cold War and it is about time that the international community of nations – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – fights back against this totalitarian hydra with combined soft power and hard power efforts indeed. This must begin with calling the bluff of the false dichotomy between alleged different “types” of Islamists, the notion that there are “good Islamists” and “bad Islamists”. There is no such thing, just as there are no good Nazis. In fact, Nazi propaganda in the 1930s successfuly attempted to paint Hitler as a “moderate” and the whole propaganda trope of “moderate Islamists” (including so-called “reformists”) is borrowed from Nazi propaganda.
There is no such thing as a moderate Islamists for Islamism is a brutal modern totalitarian political ideology as influenced by Nazism and Communism that severely distorts the diverse traditional world religion of Islam. How does Islamism distorts Islam? By reducing the inherent interpretative polyphony of the religion of Islam into a monoculture of a modern totalitarian political ideology.