Let me start off by saying, that I do not support the Mullahs in Iran. Their human rights record is atrocious, their theft of democracy with candidate disqualification is atrocious, … I could go on and on! But the U.S. has relations with many countries that have similar if not worse records on human rights and democracy. It has embassies and regular dialogue with them; AND it doesn’t ban travel from those countries to America i.e. US doesn’t punish foreign citizens for their government’s misdeeds.
And this is precisely the core issue with Iran.
Iran has been under one form of sanction after another for over 40 years. This has really hurt ordinary Iranians. And, Iranians are banned from visiting the U.S. The anti-Iranian rhetoric has been pumped up with Iranians being called liars, pool room thugs, etc.
It’s not clear why?
Historically, the U.S. has been at war with communism in the form of the former Soviet Union, or China now. Yes, the US system of free enterprise and free expression is 180 degrees at odds with their systems. And for sure, Iran is not by any stretch of the imagination a communist state.
And most recently the US has fought Islamic fanaticism, in the form of the Taliban, and ISIS. And for sure, Iran has been in mortal combat with the Taliban and ISIS (and by the way far more effective at combating these terrorists than the U.S.).
There is no Ideological gap with every aspect of Iran and the Iranian state.
Further, we now know from historical records that the U.S. manipulated the Iranian revolution to promote the rise of Khomeini and maintained secret relations with the Islamic republic for decades. There was no ideological gap when Oliver North delivered a Reagan autographed bible to Iran’s President Rafsanjani in the 1980’s. Iran after all has an operative theocracy, in the image of the government Michael Pence would love to see in America. Ironically, today, the Democrats now have better relations with Iran’s government than the Republicans.
In economic terms, perhaps there is an argument for the U.S. to oppose those nations that threaten its economic interests. But no matter how those interests are framed, I have a very hard time figuring out exactly how Iran competes with the U.S. in ANY economic sphere. Iran exports oil and gas, as well as mercantile products primarily in the form of plastics, chemicals and agricultural products. Its clients are mainly in East Asia.
The U.S. no longer imports oil and gas (on a net basis) – i.e. it is a net exporter. But who buys American oil and gas? Mexico and Canada! US exports to Iran are restrained. But if trade was open, there would be a huge US trade surplus.
For example, Iran could be a booming civil aviation market with huge competitive advantages versus ALL its regional competitors. Iran as an aviation node would be 1000 miles closer as node to Europe and East Asia than any other major regional node (like for example Dubai). Iran could be Boeing and GE’s largest aircraft or aircraft engine customer. I could go on and on, sector by sector … and make the same point.
There is in fact no economic competition between the US and Iran.
So why are the two nations at odds, because it simply doesn’t make sense based on first principles.
The truth is it is NOT the U.S. that has or should have an issue with Iran – is in fact US allies in the region that have issues with Iran. And they have exported their ‘issues’ into a US foreign policy that is not in America’s own interests.
Yes, the Saudis have a Shia minority that they suppress that sit squarely on their oil fields and they fear Iran’s prominent mullahs. Yes, it’s the Saudis that compete with Iran in global oil and gas markets and they know full well that Iran too has very low costs of production i.e. that Iran can compete aggressively. Saudis fear Iran’s raw military power, but they forget the assistance they gave Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war that led to the development of Iran’s military infrastructure. But these are NOT critical issues that should dominate US foreign policy.
You could say the same things about Israel and Iran and end up at the same conclusion i.e. Israel’s beef with Iran should not dominate US foreign policy. In fact, the U.S. managed to maintain embassies across the region (including Egypt and Saudi Arabia) while they were at war with Israel in the ‘60s and ‘70s. The US can not cow tow to Israel and cut relations with every nation Israel has a problem with. These dual national Israeli-Americans that dominate US communications, that fund so many political campaigns, and operate MOSSAD backed blackmailing schemes are more loyal to Israel than to the U.S. They simply do not care about US interests. Look at the Iraq debacle these Israeli neocons peddled and you have your answer – they would gladly bankrupt 350 million Americans for the sake of 7 million Israelis (4 million of which live in the U.S.)!!
The US can maintain parallel relationships with nations, while those nations have issues with each other and compete at some levels. Greece vs Turkey, Armenia vs Azerbaijan… It’s like loving two children that may be constantly at each other’s throats. You can still love them both.
This pissing match with Iran has gone on for too long. Putting the governments aside, it is NOT in the interests of the two nations for this antagonism to continue. Its ridiculous really.
And one final point, if the US has a problem with the regime in Tehran, lets be very clear about this:
(a) it is a regime the U.S. put in place to begin with (Andrew Young: Khomeini will be Iran’s Ghandi??) and then secretly dealt with for decades (who by the way assisted the U.S. in its invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq), and
(b) it is NOT for the U.S. or any outside nation to replace Iran’s regime – its for the Iranian people to do it (and no one else). Frankly the regime in Iran is none of America’s business now. And the Iranian people are not asking for America’s help with this matter. US political involvement in the region has not been value added. Iranians, in their own time, in their own way, will deal with their government. Iranians do not want US stooges like the MEK peddled as a new regime by America – in the same way they peddled Khomeini. No thanks. Thank you for offering but keep your people in Langley and Albania outside Iran – please?!
There are no competing interests. Why can’t the U.S. understand this? This stupid game must end.