But Rouhani’s diplomatic verbiage notwithstanding, any clear-headed assessment of Rouhani’s actual willingness to work with the United States, in any way other than that which was in the best interest of Iran, could have been gleaned from a perfunctory analysis of his previous statements related to the United States.
One decade prior to having reached the nuclear deal with the United States, Rouhani, while acting as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, wrote in an article that, “The fundamental principle in Iran's relations with America -- our entire focus -- is national strength. Strength in politics, culture, economics, and defense -- especially in the field of advanced technology -- is the basis for the preservation and overall development of the System, and will force the enemy to surrender.”
Note that Rouhani did not refer to the United States as an international partner or even as an adversary. Rather, he underscored his belief that the Untied States should be seen as an enemy of the Islamic Republic and that any relations with the United States should serve to strengthen Iran’s geopolitical position, not undermine it.
Not to be viewed as a singular occurrence, or the proverbial slip of the tongue, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) compiled a list of Rouhani’s most inflammatory beliefs and comments, an understanding of which suggest a worldview unqualified to merit the faith being placed in it by the Obama administration.
Among WINEP’s findings was that Rouhani blamed the events of September 11 on the “wrongs and mistakes of American policies.” He also suggested that Flight 93, which crashed into an open field in rural Pennsylvania following the heroic efforts of passengers onboard, was actually “shot down by the U.S. Air Force.”
Additionally, Rouhani had previously conveyed support for Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the siege and takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, and the belief that the United State’s relationship with Israel rendered a middle east arms race a near certainty.
Rouhani’s image as a reformer, hailed by the media and loosely based upon rhetoric belied by his past, should not have served as the basis upon which the Obama administration sought to ease sanctions upon Iran in the hope of gaining complicity in the pursuit of a diminished nuclear threat.
Rather, Rouhani’s past should have served as a cautionary warning sign that the Obama administration place less faith in empty rhetoric and more faith in hardened reality.