We’ve been pondering the “moderate” nature of Iran’s moderates since the June 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani. Since he won his seat on a “moderate” ticket, we have been hard-pressed to find evidence of Rouhani’s moderation: the unprecedented rise in executions certainly doesn’t fit the bill, nor does the continued belligerency towards the United States.
Sure, all this has often been hidden behind eloquent, measured rhetoric – but even the careful language used by Iran’s cadre of suit-clad, Western-educated ministers, which can seem almost liberal and benevolent at times, can’t hide the truth behind the words. Case in point? Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s laughable attempt to claim that Iran doesn’t jail people for their opinions.
Last month, we brought you The Daily Beast’s history lesson on that time Ronald Reagan thought it would be a good idea to place his trust in Iran’s “moderates.” This week, we’ve come across another take on these “moderates” – one that warns that not only are they no less extreme than Iran’s more outspoken hardliners, but that they use moderation as a tactic to pursue (and “save”) the same revolution as their more “conservative” compatriots. As evidenced by the misplaced “optimism” of countries such as the UK, which was eager to forget the 2011 ransacking of its Tehran embassy when it reopened the embassy a few weeks ago, this tactic works.
This thought-provoking opinion was expressed late last month by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, who hit the nail on the head with his analysis of the belligerent ideology that still lurks behind the seemingly softer stance of Iran’s so-called “moderates,” with whom the West has forged an “untenable” alliance. According to Lake and his expert sources, although Iran’s moderates have cultivated an image which distinguishes them from the hardliners and even implies a dynamic of conflict and “push and pull” between them, their positions are actually no less “dangerous.”
In other words, while Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) are busy carrying out violent “revolutionary” ends in the here and now, Rouhani and his ministers are more “patient thinkers,” sending holiday greetings to Jews, but holding a “more long-term and determined” – and no less revolutionary – world view. Hence, like the moderates’ rhetoric, their actions are simply a more “refined” means to the same extreme end – Islamic revolution and “resistance.”