In President Obama’s speech to the Iranian people for the Persian New Year, he talks about new beginnings and the respect for them and their culture. This is a dramatic shift from the Bush Administration and one I wholeheartedly agree with. Relations with Iran will not improve overnight with just one speech. This is a process that will take years to mend. Many Americans, understandably so, believe the problems with Iran started during the 70’s with the Revolution and hostage situation. But it started much earlier than that. During the early 50’s, the Dulles brothers enlisted Kermit Roosevelt to perform the CIA’s first overthrow of a democratically elected government, which would go on to set the standard for the doing the same in Latin America. In Iran’s case, by overthrowing Prime Minister Mosaddegh, who was a very stubborn but honest man, the US paved the way for the Shah’s return, who had lost power to Mosaddegh due to corruption and incompetence. This time the Shah’s rule was no better and when he was overthrown a second time it was with democracy and fundamentalism combined.
It is imperative to improve relations with Iran because we simply cannot afford not to. We already have 2 active wars on both of their borders which they are making much more painful for us than it needs to be. We cannot react to them militarily, as many Neocons wish to do, because of all the proxy wars they will start with us from Hezbollah, Hamas, and even possibly Venezuela. Iran is repeatedly requesting OPEC to convert off the Dollar to a Euro standard which would devastate our economy even more. And of course, bullying Iran will not prevent them from gaining a nuclear weapon.
Improving relations with Iran will take time. The first step is having a real dialogue with Iran which was unavailable to us for too long. We are already seeing Khomeini trying to prevent cracks in his regime among moderates and hardliners from Obama’s speech. Along with continued dialogue, the US should put their most powerful weapons to use, our economy and technology. Iran has massive oil reserves with crude they are unable to refine to keep pace with demand and in turn import much of their petrol. American oil companies have the technology to process these reserves and employ the thousands of out of work Iranians. Without a middle class, Iran will remain polarized. Trading with Iran instead of sanctions will not only help moderate their country but in a future far away could even make them an ally in the Middle East.