The ruling regime in Iran came to power 43 years ago. From the very outset, it was a thorn in the side of U.S. policy. One of its first acts was to imprison and hold hostage the entire staff of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Mass rallies organized to celebrate the revolution made chants of “Death to America” a signature feature. In the years since, successive U.S. administrations have tried to reach out to Tehran to find some sort of modus vivendi. All these efforts have ultimately failed. U.S. policy blunders have played a role. Most notable of these was the Trump administration’s decision to scuttle the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.

It is important to understand that the sustained, visceral hostility toward America exhibited by Iran is no accident or anomaly. Iran’s ruling clerics justify their authority in large part by asserting that a satanic America is determined to destroy the Iranian revolution. Resisting the U.S. is Tehran’s highest priority. The language used by the regime depicts Washington and Tehran as locked in a kind of death match.

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