Thursday, September 20, 2007

Iran: the White Elephant that Probably Shouldn’t Be

Disclaimer: this blog is, admittedly, nearly 100% conjecture on my part. Although parts of it are supported by fact, much of it isn't, and my conclusions can just as easily be dead wrong as they could be absolutely right.

Within the past couple of days, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad requested permission to visit Ground Zero in New York City. His request was denied, with given reasons ranging from "security risk" to, most alarmingly, "why?"

Well, despite the probability that Iran does harbor terrorists (something our state department rather judiciously reminds us of), the man likely wanted to pay his respects to a tragedy that even his country felt was an extreme response to so-called American imperialism. After all, a little known fact of Iran is that damn-near the entire country held a prayer vigil for the victims of 9/11.

Now, before I proceed, I am most certainly not claiming that Iran is our friend. However, I am claiming that Iran may not be the "next significant enemy" of the United States. Remember, at several points in the last 100 years, Iran has been an ally. Of course, they have also been an enemy.

Here are some quick historical snippets:

1. In the early 20th Century, Iran's independence was constantly interfered with by the British and Russian Empires. The withdrawal of Russia due to the rise of the Soviets left Britain in a position to try to strong-arm Iran single-handedly. Result: anti-British sentiment.

2. In World War II, supposedly fearful of Iranian support to the Axis, Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Iran. Result: anti-British and anti-Soviet sentiment. Another odd result of this was that Iran's political system would be opened a bit, and political parties and public elections would come into being.

3. 1953, the CIA sponsors a coup. Already in a confusing state of pro-West, anti-West, this doesn't help things much. The Shah, having been ousted a couple of years before, is back in power, albeit this time as a virtual puppet of western governments. Result: anti-US sentiment.

4. 1979, the Ayatollah ousts the Shah and the Islamic Republic of Iran is formed. During the so-called revolution, Americans were taken hostage, causing an official break in diplomatic ties and anti-Iran sentiments in the United States. Result: more anti-US sentiment.

5. In the 1980s, Iraq invaded Iran. For whatever reason (likely the new anti-Iran sentiment), the United States provides support to Iraq. Result: other than the obvious irony, even more anti-US sentiment.

6. The 1990s, in a somewhat unexpected and surprising gesture, Iran begins to promote what it calls an "alternative thought" movement, and advocates official tolerance for diversity in culture and politics. Iran somehow becomes a Middle-East equivalent of the United States in terms of having an open liberal versus conservative government (though quite a bit more violent than ours). Result: US culture starts sneaking into Iran on a grand scale, with mixed results, although it can be argued that the country lessened its anti-US sentiment.

7. 2001, Iran supports the anti-Taliban fight in Afghanistan. Result: the possibility of the US and Iran officially reopening diplomatic ties seems real.

8. 2002, Iran sells weapons to the Palestinians. Result: Bush, Jr., declares Iran part of the ridiculously monikored "Axis of Evil."

And here we are, still confused about what the Hell to do with Iran. Bush, it seems, wants to invade. Why? Well, why not? Others (including Condoleezza Rice), it seems, want to reopen diplomatic ties. Why? Well, why not?

I don't have any answers, I know, nor do I have any real theories. I do know that since the Ayatollah's death, Iran hasn't made any significant statements claiming that the United States is the pop-culture whore of the world, implying that they don't really believe that anymore (or even care). And I do know that much of our relations with countries in the Middle-East are dictated by those Middle-Eastern countries' relations with Israel.

Basically, and this may seem from left field, until the Israel-Arab situation is dealt with once and for all, we're probably going to remain official enemies with Iran. And that's just plain stupid. After all, we're technically friends with both Taiwan and China, right? Not to mention Israel and Lebanon.

There's an answer to this, I swear, and it probably lies in agnostic logic. Good luck finding any of that in world government.

Vote for Clint Eastwood, who probably would like an Iranian ambassador in Washington, D.C.


Anonymous said...

Bill Golden at 6:44am June 20
Jeff. I like the skepticism accompanied by logical reasoning of your writing. Laying out the history is important ... so that the less informed have some background to go on. Although, this approach doesn't work well with either the left or the right wings. In a recent discussion I was flatly told that my factoids were B.S. ... the writer was bashing Democrats as the largest recipients of congressional earmarks. My factoids were the actual number showing that 4 of the top 5 were actually Republican.

You should blog more. The world needs healthy, constructive skepticism.

She Writes said...

Well, I know no more and no less than when I arrived. With the exception of #'s 1-4!

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