CNN.com columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. is the latest to join the chorus of voices calling on President Obama to get tougher with the Iranian government. While tempting, the CNN commentator’s words fail to consider the legacy of 25 years of U.S. intervention against Iranian democracy.
“The last thing we should do is give Mr. Ahmadinejad an opportunity to evoke the 1953 American-sponsored coup, which ousted Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and returned Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to power. Doing so would only allow him to cast himself as a modern-day Mossadegh, standing up for principle against a Western puppet.”
McClatchy News is reporting that one of Iran’s most senior clerics, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, has called the election rigged. He has also criticized the government crackdown on Mousavi supporters. Montazeri himself was a leader of the 1979 revolution and a one-time rival to the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei for the nation’s top position.
It is always easy to tell someone else what they need to do. Just point your finger, clear your throat, and boldly offer your advice. Don’t worry about the realities of history — just speak your mind.
In his recent essay, “The Dilemma of the ‘good’ Muslim,” Deepak Chopra is guilty of exactly this. He ignores the complexities of history and blithely proclaims that Muslims should take responsibility for a whole host of enemies: oligarchs, military regimes, anti-Semites, jihadis. Chopra declares: “We — and here I mean the entire world — need the vast majority of Muslims to wake up and then to stand up.”
Did they shake hands? Did they chat? Was there a peck on the cheek? As with all first dates, it depends on who you talk to.
The New York Timesreported that a pair of top diplomats from the U.S. and Iran had a polite chat at an international conference on Afghanistan this Tuesday. According to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
“It was cordial, unplanned and they agreed to stay in touch,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters at the end of the conference. “I myself did not have any direct contact with the Iranian delegation.”
But not so fast. As the BBC later reported, an Iranian government spokesperson denied the whole thing:
“No meeting or talk, be it formal or informal, official or unofficial between Iran and US officials took place on the sideline of this conference…We categorically deny the reports published in this regard.”
One thing is for sure. The delicate dance has begun.
U.S. President Barack Obama released the video greetings below to the Iranian government and people.
The Nowruz holiday greetings are a rare opportunity to hear an American leader praising the culture and accomplishments of Iranian society. More than 50 years after the U.S. overthrew Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, this is a hopeful sign that perhaps our two nations can find a path to better relations.