Iran's Revolutionary Guard: Its Views of the United States

June 5, 2014

By: Saeid Golkar, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Iran Policy

During the past three decades, numerous Western media sources have portrayed Iranians as opposed to the United States, epitomized by a small group shouting "death to America." However, many Westerners who have traveled to Iran have seen a completely different picture, often finding that many Iranians have more positive attitudes.1 Many American visitors have described Iranians as the most pro-American people in the Middle East.2 Deep frustration with the Islamic Republic and mistrust of the clerical establishment's propaganda have made Iranians "avid fans of America: its culture, films, food, music, it's open, free-wheeling society."3

In addition to many recent observations of pro-US sentiment among the Iranian public,4 several polls depict a general desire for a better relationship with the United States.5 A survey conducted during the reform era in 2001 showed that 75 percent of Iranians favored the reopening of official contacts with America.6 A survey in 2009 showed that Americans are more widely liked in Iran than anywhere else in the Middle East, even compared to US allies such as India, Turkey and Egypt.7 The same survey found that "almost two-thirds of Iranians support restoring diplomatic ties with the US."8

The positive perception of America and the popular desire for reestablishing the US-Iran relationship are in conflict with the official position of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).9 The IRGC's opinion of the United States is based on its ideological perception of the international world. This understanding rests on two central concepts: domination and resistance. According to IRGC indoctrination material, the world is divided between two main axes: one of domination and one of resistance.10 The domination axis consists of colonial states that have been exploiting other countries for centuries.

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