Isolation in our global community is impractical but America has a terrible history with Iran, so the future will require either war or engagement and the reality of modern times must be that violent conflict is unacceptable. America must be brave enough to pursue peace.
The Islamic Republic of Iran restricts press freedom, represses dissent, and disregards international human rights norms. The government regularly jails members of religious minorities, women’s rights activists, and both foreign and domestic journalists.
Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, reported a variety of harsh punishments meted out by the Iranian regime, including executions, floggings, amputations, and even blinding. Iran’s medieval barbarity is easy to condemn from far away, but ending such practices will require a close contact.
Iran is one of only five countries in the world where people can receive a death sentence for being homosexual while the United States of America has recently made same sex marriage legal. Our cultures are far apart on many levels but these are not irreconcilable differences.
Americans will never influence the internal affairs of Iran by screaming at them from thousands of miles away, but as customers or trading partners, US citizens could discourage human rights abuses and intolerance to create potential changes.
Commerce has always opened doors that were closed to strangers, so it is clear that route would be more effective than having no engagement and one other thing is obvious: War is an unacceptable alternative, so we must find peaceful ways to rectify problems, resolve our differences and live in harmony with other cultures.
Global population stands at about 7 billion and Islam is among the world’s leading religions with 1.5 billion followers, compared to 2.1 billion believers of Christianity. We need to learn to get along together or humanity will perish.
America has a history dealing with Iran that is not well known among our people because it is essentially shameful but for many Iranians, the 1953 coup is the original sin.
A joint British-American plot ousted the country’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammed Mossadegh , in 1953 and the restoration of a monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was amenable to Western interests but whose visit to the US for medical treatment in 1979, sparked the Iranian hostage crisis.
Mossadegh had plans to nationalize Iran’s oil assets, which were the lifeblood of the mammoth Anglo-Iranian Oil Co. (now better known as BP), so his government was overthrown in a coup d’état aided by the American Central Intelligence Agency and the British Secret Intelligence Service. This was the CIA’s first successful dismantling of a foreign government but it has haunted America in many ways ever since.
An author, administrator, lawyer, and prominent parliamentarian, Mossadegh introduced a range of progressive social and political reforms such as social security, rent control, and land reforms. Many Iranians regard Mossadegh as the leading champion of secular democracy and resistance to foreign domination in Iran’s modern history. He fought against internal corruption as well as foreign interference, and he kept the fundamentalist religious zealots at bay.
Iran did not restrict press freedom, repress dissent, or abuse human rights until the American and British governments illegally intruded and set off the history that has since unfolded.
Before Americans condemn Iran’s medieval barbarity, we must acknowledge our responsibility for bringing about its existence and understand that their animosity is not unfounded. And we must act to correct those errors of our past and move toward peace and justice to insure our future.