The Atlantic

Sons of the Iranian Revolution

Rafsanjani, Khamenei, and the friendship-cum-rivalry that shaped a country
Source: Vahid Salemi / AP

In Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, he describes a “general rule” of politics that “never or rarely fails.” “He who is the cause of another becoming powerful,” Machiavelli wrote, “is ruined. Because that predominancy has been brought about either by astuteness or else by force, and both are distrusted by him who has been raised to power.” This is an apt political epitaph for former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who died Sunday at age 82. In 1989, nearly 500 years after The Prince was published, Rafsanjani helped anoint his longtime comrade Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as supreme leader of Iran. He would spend the next three decades of his life trying, unsuccessfully, to wrestle power back from the man he

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