Book Review From The California Courier

Reviewed by Harut Sassounian, Publisher, The California Courier, VOL. XLXI No. 50, July 23, 2015, Page 6.

The Political Ideology of Ayatollah Khamenei: Out of the Mouth of the Supreme Leader of Iran

With the dramatic signing of Iran’s nuclear deal, many American citizens, policymakers, diplomats, scholars and journalists have pondered the motivation behind Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’s thinking, for giving a green light to an agreement with the major powers, including his “chief enemy,” the United States.
The Political Ideology of Ayatollah Khamenei: Out of the Mouth of the Supreme Leader of Iran, by Dr. Yvette Hovsepian-Bearce, reconstructs Ayatollah Khamenei’s thought pattern on reaching this agreement which has major geopolitical implications. It is certainly critical for Americans to understand the path Khamenei intends to take his country on and his vision regarding Iran’s destiny as a revolutionary Islamic state and a beacon to the Muslim world.
After thoroughly analyzing Khamenei’s personal life, political journey, public pronouncements and writings, Dr. Hovsepian-Bearce has produced an insightful book that explains the political and religious behavior of Iran’s top leader. In view of the country’s important geopolitical location in the Middle East, she explores critical issues that scholars, diplomats and the public seek to understand:
Who is Khamenei? How does the Supreme Leader of Iran really think? What are the particulars of his theocratic political vision? How do these influence his decision-making on such crucial matters as nuclear negotiations with the U.S., and other major powers, his deep enmity toward Israel, and ambition to make Iran a world power? To answer these questions, The Political Ideology of Ayatollah Khamenei takes the reader back to the Supreme Leader’s childhood (1939). The author provides a chronological and thematic account of the content and evolution of Khamenei’s political and religious thinking, beginning with his youthful activism as a devoted student of the Iranian Revolution’s charismatic leader, Ayatollah Khomeini (1962-1979). Dr. Hovsepian-Bearce then traces Khamenei’s thoughts as he struggled to realize Khomeini’s vision of an Islamic government, while serving as President for eight years during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988). Her in-depth study analyzes the effects on Khamenei of his unexpected ascent to the position of Supreme Leader after Khomeini’s death and details how Khamenei refined and solidified his ideology during his volatile relations with four presidents (1989-2014). This is the first book to explore the underlying coherence of the ideological vision guiding the Supreme Leader’s exercise of ultimate power, and the first to present Khamenei’s political and religious worldview based on his speeches and writings.
The author helps the reader to understand the critical choices Iran’s leadership is likely to face upon Khamenei’s passing. These decisions include the future of Iran’s nuclear development, its integration as a growing regional power in the international community, its policies toward Israel and the U.S., and its future social and cultural development measured by human rights, and freedoms and opportunities accorded to women and youth.
Based on her systematic analysis of Khamenei’s theocratic ideology, Dr. Hovsepian-Bearce carefully outlines the Supreme Leader’s vision for Iran, the Muslim world, and the global community.
Used with permission
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