The ancient land and nation of Persia has a history rich in science, conflict, religion, and war. In 1935 Persia changed its name to Iran, yet the legacy of Persia remains. To think of Iran as an ally of America would be absurd to us in America and out of the question for our government. Yet, is that fair? Do we see the people of Iran objectively, or have we blindly accepted what the news broadcasts portray of this nation? Since at least 1979 the two countries Iran and America have been at odds, mainly because of the 444-day standoff in the U.S. Embassy that included 52 Americans being held by the Iranians because of the U.S. and British coup in 1953 that put Mohammad Reza Shah back in power. He later led the white revolution in 1963 that led to the hostage situation and revolution in 1979. More recent examples of Iran–U.S. conflicts include the U.S. ban on all trade with Iran in 1995 for suspected terrorism, and in the 2002 State of the Union address President Bush called Iran a member of the “Axis of Evil.” grouping Iran with North Korea and Iraq; furthermore, Vice President Cheney said Iran was “right at the top of the list of potential trouble spots.”
There is however a strong minority in Iran today who do not hate America, or want to destroy it, rather they wish their country was more like America. “Indeed, most citizens are too young to remember the 1979 revolution or the 444-day hostage crisis that destroyed the two nations’ once–close relationship” (57). Karim Sadjadpour puts their attitude into a different light “The paradox of Iran is that it just might be the most pro–American—or, perhaps, least anti–American—populace in the Muslim world” (qtd. in 57). This attitude differs from what we might suspect. We might imagine young radicals in a town’s square shouting “Death to America” and burning the American flag, yet “After the September 11th attacks, a large, spontaneous candlelight vigil took place in Tehran, where the thousands gathered shouted ‘Down with Terrorists.’ Perhaps the most striking thing about anti–Americanism in Iran today is how little of it actually exists” (56).
If the article is correct and many Iranians actually have a favorable opinion of America why does our government view Iran as such a big threat? One answer can be found in Iran’s government. This is because “Nearly three–fourths of the Iranians polled in a 2002 survey said they would like their government to restore dialogue with the United States” (56), yet “Real authority is wielded by a group of six clerics and six Islamic jurists called the Guardian Council.” they have the power to block certain laws and to also keep certain people from running for the Presidency or the Parliament. (61). Thus, these twelve people set the governmental tone for the nation regardless of popular opinion. Many are catching on though as one engineer said “The government stifles us, and they want us to believe it is America’s fault. I’m not a fool.” His words clearly show that the heart of Iran (which is the people) is turning toward America. To put the government’s position in perspective, the men who did the survey concerning the U.S., as cited above, were arrested and convicted for “making propaganda against the Islamic regime” (57) again showing the resistance of Iran’s government to U.S. influence.
Another interesting feature of this article is the intellectual movement in Iran. “Iranian intellectuals are quietly rediscovering American authors and embracing values familiar to any American civics student—separation of Church and State, an independent judiciary and a strong presidency” (57). Many of the intellectuals or professionals are realizing that the propaganda spewed by the government is false, that is possibly why “Some 150,000 Iranian professionals leave the country each year” (57). These “intellectuals” are resisting the very government that is resisting democracy, but not all of them are leaving, some are staying and trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to change what the government is doing.
“Iran today is at a turning point. Either the Islamic revolution must mellow and embrace political change, or face a reckoning down the road when hard–line clerics come into conflict with the secular, democratic ideals of the younger generation” (62). The inference of the article makes clear the idea that many Iranians are willing and eager to work with the United States. They are willing to forgive our past meddling in their country. The article shows an Iran that is departing from the Islamic religion (or at least the rigidity and extreme tenets or it) in search for friendship with America. Maybe someday the minority views expressed in this article will overcome the strength and propaganda of the government, and then maybe Iran will become a democratic government much like the one we hope to see in Iraq.
Molavi, Afshin. A New Day in Iran. Smithsonian. March 2005: 54–63.
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Since I have not, nor do I intend to, investigate the validity of the facts as you have presented them; all I can say is that this article is loaded with facts, too many I feel; it's like the story and the essence of it got lost in the academia of it all. Seems you had a point and you came near to making it to a degree, but it just seems as if you quit making it as soon as you got started. On the other hand, the principle of the story; I believe that the animosity between two countries is the same as that between two people; "you desire and have not" and other such references. My question is, seeing this is primarily a Faith based web site; what does the embracing of Iran have to do with my walk? I have my own answer, but, what is yours? I think this article, were it to bring application to believers would serve more readers in this type of forum. "Faith Writers"....how does this work encourage us to embrace Him? or is this merely a political mindset that seems to be in keeping with Scripture? Finally, I commend you for your courage; as there will be those who will label you as being the friend of terrorists; I, for one, did not see that at all.