People enjoy a good love story, right? Casablanca, Say Anything…, Titanic, The Notebook, the 1976 movie literally titled Love Story.
They’re formulaic, predictable and appeal to our inherent desire for romance and human connection. There’s usually an emotional soliloquy somewhere in there overlaid with dramatic music. We’re suckers for that.
On that note, let’s share another love story. The one between the United States and Iran.
But to tell this story, we must begin in 1953. Gather ‘round, kids. Kick off your shoes while you’re at it.
As the Harry Truman administration was coming to its end in the years following World War II, British officials tried to convince the U.S. president to assist them in an intervention of Iran. The argument British officials pushed was the county’s imminent threat of becoming a Communist state – an existential worry at the time with Soviet influence spreading throughout Europe and Asia.
The truth, however, was that Winston Churchill and the British really wanted to intervene to regain control of the oil company they owned. Britain had formerly made an agreement with Iran for drilling rights on their soil, struck oil, and were reaping the monetary benefits. Iran wanted a stake and the British were having none of it.
Neither was the Truman administration. They wanted no part of the plan.
Not long after, Iran kicked the British out and took over control of the oil company and the profits. When the American presidency switched from Truman to Dwight Eisenhower, the British took another crack at it. This time, Eisenhower agreed.
But the political environment in Iran was turning. Indeed, the country was becoming democratic, and had even selected a new leader – Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh.
For years, Iran had been led by the repressive Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who treated citizens terribly, but was willing to abide by American and British influence if they helped him return to power.
And then came the Americans and the British. A secret coup d’etat ensued, led on the ground by none other than Kermit Roosevelt, a CIA operative and grandson of Theodore Roosevelt. Iran’s popularly elected leader, Mosaddegh, was overthrown, and the repressive Shah was put back in place, where he led a regime highlighted by oppression, brutality and corruption for nearly three decades.
The CIA mission was largely remained classified, and details of the operation slowly emerged over time, deeply immersing an anti-American sentiment within the Iranian people.
Finally, in the late 1970s, the Iranians had enough. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 saw the overthrow of the Shah, who was then exiled. Ayotallah Khomeini became the country’s Supreme Leader, the well-documented Iran hostage crisis saw 52 American diplomats and citizens held captive for more than a year, and Iranians started chanting “Death to America” on a daily basis.
And that’s been the basis of American-Iranian relations ever since. Aytatollah Khomeini died in 1989, and he was replaced by Ayatollah Khamenei, who remains the country’s supreme leader.
In 2015, Barack Obama tried a new approach towards Iran – diplomacy. The result was a comprehensive agreement that removed crippling economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for the dismantling of their nuclear arsenal, which has been verified by outside independent agencies.
The agreement involved personal meetings between the two of the countries’ top diplomats at the time, John Kerry and the American-educated Mohammad Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Though the relationship between the two countries were still severely strained – Iran remains on the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism – it was the easily the most cordial and peaceful development between the two nations since the 1979 revolution, and at least left the window open for future reconciliation.
And now Iran is pushing back.
During a speech on Tuesday, Ayatollah Khamenei thanked “Newcomer” Trump for showing the “real face” of the United States.
“We actually thank this new president! We thank him, because he made it easier for us to reveal the real face of the United States. What we have been saying, for over thirty years, about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. ruling establishment, he came out and exposed during the election campaigns and after the elections.”
He wasn’t done.
“Trump says fear me! No. The Iranian nation will respond to your comments with a demonstration on the 10th of February: they will show others what kind of stance the nation of Iran takes when threatened.”
With his reckless dialogue, Trump has given Iran the validation it had been seeking for the last 30 years to unleash their full wrath of hatred upon us. In their eyes, we are public enemy #1, and now they will be literally showing it on a public stage.
As our country continues to be led by a man with zero awareness of the nuances of foreign policy, thus creating a destabilizing shock wave throughout the entire world, an empowered Iran is making its move.
In this tale, there’s no Kate Winslet releasing Leonardo DiCaprio into the depths of the ocean. Humphrey Bogart isn’t seeing off Ingrid Bergman in front of a plane. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams are MIA.
This is real life, and bad things may actually happen.