Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the implicit goal of US strategy toward Tehran has with rare exception been to subvert the Iranian political system. Under President Donald Trump, regime change has been adopted as official policy. Trump’s approach has been twofold: to increase sanctions and other pressures to weaken Iran while countering its defensive capabilities and regional influence, and to support Iranians who seek to overthrow the Islamic Republic.
Before the Islamic Revolution, Washington was the dominant foreign power in Iran, exercising decisive political, economic, military and cultural influence. The United States came into this position after orchestrating the 1953 coup ousting democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and returning to power the dictatorial regime of the shah. The 1979 revolution marked the end of US influence in Iran and was a major setback for Washington in the region as a strategic ally suddenly turned into an enemy.