Azadeh Moaveni has written two books about the paradox of being an Iranian American. I often feel like I could write my own. Recently American military rescued Iranian fishermen in the Persian Gulf in two instances–one from Somali pirates, and the other from a flooding engine room. I was excited when I first heard about the rescue, and tweeted about it instantly: “This is diplomacy; US Navy saves Iranian fishermen from Somali pirates. picture attached is heartwarming” and attached the picture (as seen above). Immediately 6 retweets, all from American tweeters. I also got an instant reply: “That is not diplomacy, that is pure media propaganda to appear to the world as if the USA is the hero of the day. #bullshit” from @6FtFromTheHedge. My Iranian friend texted back when I sent him the picture: “that’s a lie”.
So what is it? Propaganda, or diplomacy? Well we have to look at what happened, and the truth of the matter is that those US Marines did save the fishermen. Whether or not their intentions were political to look like the heroes of the day, or to make Iran look bad for presumably not thanking them–they saved those men. I’m sure the fishermen could care less about any ulterior-motive intentions too. It’s diplomacy between humans, but what about the governments?
Let’s take a look at the recent events between Iran and the US that led to its tense relationship in the beginning of this 2012 year. Many might start at Iran enriching its uranium, but because I believe they have all the right to obtain nuclear weapons as any other country does this shouldn’t be looked at as the start of the tension. For the same reason Israel has nuclear weapons (surrounded by “hostile” Arab countries), Iran is in the same position. In a time where Saudi Arabia and India are enhancing their nuclear programs, why shouldn’t Iran? Arguably Iran is more vulnerable than both those countries.
Bay nazaram, in my opinion, it started when the United States called for economic sanctions on Iran. What has this done? The rial has deflated three fold, Iranians around the world have no way of sending money to their families inside Iran, and created more hatred toward the West. Sanctions hurt people more than it hurts the Government. In response to the economic sanctions, the Iranian Government threatened to block the strait of Hormuz which will cut off most of the Gulf’s maritime trade. The US would be hit hard–oil prices will rise up, and we know how that went after 9/11. The impact on Iran would be even more devastating, but Iran is more interested in protecting its dignity and not succumbing to the US bully. We’ve seen it before when populist Prime Minister Muhammad Mossadegh nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company away from Britain regardless that without the British they had little means to run an entire oil production independently.
More recently, Iran has sentenced a US citizen Marine Amir Hekmati to death for espionage. Amir claims he was going to Iran to visit his Grandmothers for the first time, but Iran accuses him of being a spy on behalf of the US Government. The United States has called for Hekmati’s immediate release.
And then yesterday, Iranian scientist/chemical engineer Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan suspected of being involved in Iran’s nuclear program was assassinated by two motorcyclists who attached a magnetic bomb to his car. The Iranian Government has accused “foreign powers” for being behind the assassinations, which there have been many.
Someone should write a book about this.
The tensions between the United States and Iran are rising to dangerous heights, which many are worried could lead to World War III. Historically, the two countries have butted heads starting from the coup of 80% approval rate Prime Minister Mossadegh for nationalizing oil, the hostage crisis, to the Iran-Iraq war, now to the economic sanctions.
Where is the diplomacy? Has it been shredded from Iran and the United States crude past, from the alliance between Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US, and anti-West President Ahmadinejab? Has Iran never left the “Axis of Evil” coined by former President Bush? Over and over again, both the United States and Iran have failed to come together to talk. I think the only politician among both countries who has got it right is ironically Republican candidate Rick Santorum, who said President Obama has failed to reach out to the Iranian people who more often than not, do not share the same anti-West sentiment as their Government (at least before the sanctions). As an Iranian American, someone who must reconcile both cultures in everyday life, I think it’s time the two countries themselves reconcile. The United States needs to stop essentially bossing Iran around and work with them on assuring the usage of nuclear weapons is purely defensive and not offensive. Iran, well Iran needs to realize that it’s easier “liv[ing] and let[ting] live” with a good relationship rather than a bad one.