Iran has been at war with the United States since the overthrow of the Shah and the ascent of the mullahcracy in 1979. The Iranians held American hostages for 444 days in 1979-81, until President Reagan was sworn in. On Reagan’s watch, however, the mullahs upped the ante, dispatching their Hezbollah subsidiary to murder 242 Marines in Beirut in 1983. The Iranians have kept right at it, murdering and maiming many of our fellow Americans in the Middle East and plotting to conduct terrorist operations on our doorstep in Washington, DC.
Nevertheless, the Obama administration arrived at a farcical Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran that allegedly blocked its path to nuclear weapons. Obama’s long march to this false climax included the suspension of sanctions and cash payments that funded the regime’s continuing nuclear program, the regime’s terrorism and the regime’s other murderous efforts opposing the United States.
You can understand why the mullahs might be upset with President Trump. As Fred Fleitz persuasively demonstrates in his February 7 NR column, “Nine Months Later, Trump’s Iran-Deal Withdrawal Is a Clear Success.” If you haven’t caught up with Fleitz’s column and have any interest in the subject, don’t miss his column.
Now Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameni is is yearning for the good old days when he could take the money from President Obama and run. He wants it understood that he harbors no ill will to Democrats or the American people.
In a speech celebrating the fortieth anniversary the Iranian catastrophe on Friday, Khameni “explained” that the whole “Death to America” thing referred to the Trump administration: “As long as America continues its wickedness, the Iranian nation will not abandon ‘Death to America,’” Khamenei reportedly said: “‘Death to America’ means death to Trump, [National Security Advisor] John Bolton, and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo. It means death to American rulers.” MEMRI reported on Khameni’s Friday speech here, Reuters here. The Hill here, and the New York Times here.
This has a certain plausibility. We can’t doubt that Khameni years for the good old days of the Obama administration and wishes the death of President Trump along with the other named administration officials. They have worked hard to merit Khameni’s antipathy.
Nevertheless, a funny thing happened on the way to Obama’s appeasement of Iran. Khameni and friends chanted “Death to America” from the first days of the Obama administration in 2009 through the consummation of the nuclear deal in July 2015. See, for example, Tim Shipman’s March 2009 Telegraph story, MEMRI’s February 2014 post, and Julian Hattem’s 2015 Hill story.