Tehran believes itself to be embroiled in a “soft war.” “Countering the soft war is the main priority for us today,” said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei soon after the disputed presidential elections of 2009. “In a soft war the enemy tries to make use of advanced cultural and communication tools to spread lies and rumors.” What is this “soft war?” How did it emerge in Iranian discourse? This paper will trace the genesis of the term in Iranian politics from pre-revolutionary Iran to 2012. It will argue that the “soft war” is the latest iteration of a long-standing myth, in which outside powers seek to dominate Iranian identity and sovereignty through cultural means.