Iran and the U.S.: A Love Story

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.

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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.

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Now to 2017. Trump is lambasting Iran on social media. Security Advisor Michael Flynn has put “Iran on notice.” Iran was one of the seven nations from which we banned immigrants from.

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.

The end.

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Remember when people used to actually root for world peace?

Let’s say you have a lot of friends.

Most of them like you. The majority of them truly respect you. The others just don’t want to get on your bad side.

But then there’s three people who don’t like you. Really don’t like you. So much that they may even want to cause you harm, if they had their way. You’ve had really bad skirmishes with them in the past, and the bad blood still lingers. But instead of acting out, you just decide to pretty much ignore the other’s existence.

It prevents any belligerence in the short term, but is it really the ideal solution? Do you really want to live each day knowing that one of these people might come after you?

In a perfect world, wouldn’t you rather make amends, let bygones be bygones, acknowledge that mistakes were made and go on living peacefully? You don’t have to love each other. You just have to tolerate one another and acknowledge the other’s existence. Give a curt nod when you pass each other on the street, rather then turning in the opposite direction.

Peace and camaraderie is always the better option, right? If a solution presents itself that avoids conflict — take it.

Well if you agree with me, then you also happen to agree with the recent actions of our president.

Yup, folks, this just got political. I tricked you!

In the past calendar year, President Obama has made the attempt to reconcile and burn bridges with three nations, each of which have a very checkered recent history (to say the least) with the United States — Iran, Cuba and Vietnam.

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One chants “Death to America” every morning. The other once allowed nuclear missiles on their soil to point directly at us. The last engaged with us in a war that killed 58,000 Americans.

Yeah, that’s bad blood.

I know what some of you may be thinking. If a country has American blood on its hands, then why ever make amends? We’re the most powerful country in the world — screw ’em!

But is that really a solution? Just maintain the status quo and expect no repercussions? Is it healthy to have an entire nation remain an enemy for decades and decades? If you truly believe that, then maybe you believe the U.S. and Soviet Union never should have ended the Cold War.

If there is an open door towards peace, how do you not at least peak inside? Obama has taken a careful step through that door recently by negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran, announcing a thaw with Cuba, and just this week, took further initatives to settle the lingering rifts between the U.S. and Vietnam.

No one’s saying to welcome these nations back with an open arms. Instead, it’s merely one cautious step towards long-term reconciliation.

There used to be a day when “world peace” was an unanimous goal.

Now the calls are to build walls. To alienate foreigners. To condemn entire groups of people because of the actions of a small minority.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’m still game for world peace. And I’m proud to be represented by a leader who at least gave it a shot.