Shadow Government

History lessons from Ali Larijani

By Christian Brose  Well, I’ll say this about Ali Larijani’s tirade last night here at the Munich Security Conference. It was entertaining. It even managed to wake up a drowsy Wehrkunde audience from the endless droning on by the likes of German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and IAEA Chief Mohamed El-Baradei. As for what Larijani had ...

By Christian Brose 

Well, I’ll say this about Ali Larijani’s tirade last night here at the Munich Security Conference. It was entertaining. It even managed to wake up a drowsy Wehrkunde audience from the endless droning on by the likes of German Foreign Minister Steinmeier and IAEA Chief Mohamed El-Baradei. As for what Larijani had to say, let’s just say it was no unclenching of the fist.

Larijani launched into a 20-minute rant about America’s many historical sins against Iran, enumerating them as he went, beginning in 1958 with the backing of the Shah (#1) and continuing on up to the recent war in Gaza (#10 as I recall). Presumably this was just the abridged, modern history. Surely the Declaration of Independence was an affront to Persian dignity and an attempt to destabilize the Zand dynasty.

With National Security Advisor James Jones sitting stoically in the front row, Larijani went on and on like this, holding up pictures of dead children in Gaza and explaining how the only reason the Middle East has had any stability these past three decades amid America’s repreated imperialist bloodlust was the steadying influence of Ayatollah Khomeini and his revolution. And to think I have been living a lie this whole time.

After all this, Larijani told the stunned Munich audience that, despite the long history of American transgressions, the Obama administration could "rebuild bridges" with Iran. Full stop. When later asked by a thoughtful questioner what Iran was prepared to do to build bridges toward Washington, Larijani ducked it entirely. Instead, he chose to engage on another question about his government’s denial of the Holocaust by pondering out loud, while sitting in the heart of Germany, why the West has such "sensitivities" about this subject. In Iran, we were told, people are free to hold different views about this. But then Larijani stopped, saying he wasn’t an historian and didn’t want to get into a long discussion of the past. And thank goodness for that.

Much of the chatter in the crowd afterward touched on how we should write off Larijani’s speech because it was all domestic political posturing before Iran’s upcoming elections. So this was all campaign rhetoric, appealing to the Iranian voter, from one of the allegedly more pragmatic leaders of Iran’s government. I feel better already.

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