A momentous point in the decline of the US

The following Op-Ed article tries to analyze the global political and cultural consequences the event of taking over the US embassy by the Iranian students had for the US.

The twentieth century was the century of American dreams, the America that claimed to have the world twisted around its little finger. In continuation of this claim and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the establishment of a unipolarity in the world, Bush, the father, talked about the end of the previous world order. Political thinkers and analysts joined him in promising the beginning of a US hegemony and the American century. They believed that from that time on, the American lifestyle, values, and culture would dominate the world. The US was expected to present its so-called valuable achievements including American capitalism, democracy, and human rights and create independent, democratic nations committed to freedom. But the trend of events in the world in the 21st century showed to what extent this claim was unfounded and caused many to become doubtful about it.[1] Although Bush, the father, tried to preserve the heroic image of America in the world using Fukuyama’s theory of ‘The End of History” and Huntington’s theory of “The Clash of Civilizations,” there were many others who saw the signs of the decline of the US during this same period. Noam Chomsky was among the first to announce these signs and he considered the idea of America’s superiority to be a delusion. Ted Galen Carpenter, a university professor and member of the CATO think tank, used the term “Termite Decline” in referring to the gradual decline of US power due to waging many wars and falling behind its opponents. This was to the extent that Trump formally recognized this decline and announced his election slogan as being ‘Restoring America’s Greatness,’ although many regarded Trump’s presence to be a clear sign of this decline.

At the same time as this declining trend, the US used Hollywood as a dream making factory to preserve its image of power in the world. They presented an illusory image of themselves in the framework of movies and the world went along with them. But in the real world, this dream-like image was questioned as the result of the bloodshed caused by US wars in Western Asia, the various political, social, and economic crises, the appearance of a president like Trump, and the emergence of a socio-structural crises during the Corona pandemic in America.


The role of taking over the ‘Den of Espionage’ in breaking the US grandeur

Although the world is officially acknowledging the US decline today and watching its grandeur breaking down, many years ago and even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, on this side of the world and following the Islamic Revolution, American totalitarianism faced a new challenge with Iran playing the main role in this respect. The US did not apparently intend to interfere in the conflict between the revolutionaries and the Pahlavi regime. It hid its interferences, including providing refuge to the Shah of Iran, behind its humanitarian slogans. But with the ‘Den of Espionage’ being taken over and the disclosure of confidential documents related to the US’s hostile measures against the Islamic Revolution, it became clear to everyone who the great enemy of Iran was and how it infringed upon the rights of the Iranian nation. Although, this had already been witnessed in the August 19 coup d'état in 1953. Therefore, Imam Khomeini (1900 - 1989), the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the first Leader of the Islamic Revolution, referred to this event as the “Second Revolution,” a Revolution that was greater than the first one because Iran had confronted a greater enemy (the US).

Taking over the US embassy had many political, security, and even economic dimensions and different aspects of it can be studied. One of the most important dimensions is the doubt it created with regard to the US image of civilization in the world. Imagine a country that claims it is the main manager of the global community and is dominating the whole world is challenged by young, independent students who were not connected to any world power, in a country that had just experienced a great revolution and seemed very vulnerable. And this had taken place in Western Asia, which has always been weak and in need of the West’s guidance according to the way the West describes it. It is quite obvious how this endangers the dreamlike, great image of the US. Among the measures the US put on the agenda to counteract its international humiliation were making numerous, incessant efforts to free the American hostages[2] on the one hand and enforcing extensive censorship in countries throughout the world to prevent images of students entering the US embassy from being seen. From the very beginning, they attempted to present their own story of this event to the world under the title “The hostage crisis in Iran” as opposed to that of the revolutionaries, which was “Taking over the Den of Espionage.” Their goal was to hide the issue of espionage and the violation of the rights of a nation behind human rights slogans and by highlighting the arrest of the US Embassy employees who were, in fact, CIA agents in Iran. The Americans never spoke about how their operation to rescue the hostages ended in a humiliating failure in Tabas.[3] Instead, they tried to preserve a heroic image of themselves by manufacturing misleading Hollywood films like Argo. Despite this, history knows how long before world public opinion realized the reality of the US, the Iranian Revolution provided the ground for challenging the false image of the US in the world.


Why is breaking the US grandeur important?

The US identity has been tied to its superiority over the world. For this reason, the US always tries to gain advantages rather than give privileges[4] in order to rule over the world.[5] The Qur’an refers to this as arrogance.[6] A characteristic of arrogance is that it causes one to consider himself to be great, and in contrast, to consider others to be small in order to preserve one’s greatness. For this reason, arrogance tries to destroy points of strength in other nations.[7] Using its propaganda machine, arrogance tries to make great nations believe in it and to see themselves as nothing in comparison to it so that they will surrender all their belongings to it. The first step in fighting arrogance is to target its domineering attitude. First, something must be done to break the image of this false greatness. After this false image has been broken, reality will gradually reveal itself. That is why from the very beginning, the Islamic Revolution considered its opponent to be not just the Pahlavi regime but to also be the larger Global Arrogance. Thus, it tried to fight it from the very beginning[8] in order to disrupt the accepted duality of the ‘domineering’ and the ‘domineered’ in the world.[9] Although the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979 was the first step in this fight, the more obvious arraying of Islam against Global Arrogance was the takeover of the US Den of Espionage. This time those who had been assumed to be ‘small’ stood up to the America that had shown itself as being “big” and changed the playing field.[10] The first effect of this measure was that it showed the other oppressed nations in the world that they should not consider themselves to be small in confronting Global Arrogance. Furthermore, they should realize that they can preserve their independence by relying on their capabilities. It is this belief in one’s power against arrogance that reinforces the resistance movement giving them the self-confidence to demand their rights.



[1 https://aeon.co/essays/is-westernisation-fact-or-fiction-the-case-of-japan-and-the-us?utm_medium=feed&utm_source=rss-feed

[2]  http://www.wired.com/magazine/2007/04/feat_cia

[3] https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2006/05/the-desert-one-debacle/304803/

[4] Statements made by Sayyid Ali Khamenei. [Aug. 1, 2016]

[5] Ibid. [May 19, 2010]

[6] Qur’an, 7:13.

[7] Statements made by Sayyid Ali Khamenei. [Sept. 20, 2005]

[8] Ibid. [Feb. 17, 2010]

[9] Ibid. [Mar. 20, 2008]

[10] Ibid. [Nov. 4, 1990]


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