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Iran—Confrontation or Conversation

By Geoffrey Cook

Our relations with Iran are as troubled as ever. We have a visceral reaction to their competent President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and our accusations of an aggressive nuclear program.

On Tehran’s side, the population is as dead-set against George W. Bush as Americans are against Ahmedinejad, and a suspicion that the nuclear allegations are the nascent pretext for Persian regime change. Yet recently both governments have stated that they are ready for a dialogue! What is the truth?

Karim Sadjadpour is an international think tank crisis specialist over that region. He works through both the media and through providing research to the US government. During the last three years he has found himself largely in Tehran and Washington.

Iran is a difficult country to understand and to get around. The difficulty to gain access to the establishment is to understand that they are tightening their nuclear lock. Any attempt at governmental change is based upon unlocking this security. The Iranian capital is standing up for the administration. They are determined to remain firm. It has become “a challenge of chicken,” so to say, between us two. Essentially, the US decided not to talk to Iran then resolved on preconditions for talk—but this technique has not worked, either.

Previous Iranian presidents were criticized as being too conservative. The current Mahmoud Ahmedinejad threatens war by wiping Israel off the map! Sajadpour feels that the nation’s priority should be economic development—not warlike threats. Although Persia is rich in oil, people tell Karim that they feel that their daily life is getting worse due to the the explosion of their population. “When your stomach growls for bread,” he explains, democracy is nor your priority!

The population is not united on a nuclear Iran, but the example of Iraq has brought public opinion solidly together as far as the need to protect themselves from predatory nations. Responses on the how and why—the ways and means—to accomplish national security do differ, though.

There is an unflinching identification of the Iranian State with Palestine, and Iranian support of Gaza, Palestine and Hezbollah is what we are seeing now in the current war, especially with their development of new military technology which has changed the topography of the Middle East and Southwest Asia. Although Tehran is the largest State in over their shielding expanse “…they are sacrificing their interests [indirectly] to the Palestinians,” but Israel is the fifth largest nuclear power in the world.

The Persians do not feel they in control of their own destiny. They are only subsumed in the conspiracies of the major powers. He explains that they worry about politics like we worry about weather. They want change, but how? A twenty-four hour regime reform is a dream they do not wish to see their soldiers go under like those in Iraq. Another revolution would be foolish. “Change has to point to tomorrow…”

Vast sections of this country, he explains, long for a peaceful secular democracy.”


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