The Deal with Iran
The United States of America; our government did something good this week. We entered into a fundamentally new, and different relationship with the nation of Iran. Iran which has been our “enemy” for these past thirty-seven, the theocracy of Iran, Iran took our people hostage in 1979 and held them for four hundred and forty-four days, Iran who leaders refer to America as the Great Satan, Iran who we name as the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, Iran whose people gather to shout in ritual “death to America” and “death to Israel” our ally; we struck a bargain with Iran, and we are keeping it.
The United States of America, together with the United Nations asked the Iranians to give up their program to develop atomic weapons. Their pursuit of those weapons had brought severe economic sanctions to the Iranian people, locking them out of trade and commerce, and locking us into a mode of antagonism with their government that to many observers seemed intractable.
In the United States Congress there was united opposition among republicans, together with some opposition among democrats, those office holders did not even want us to talk to Iran, let alone make a deal.
Our ally Israel lobbied vigorously against the deal once the structure was in place. Their prime minister came to America and spoke directly to congress urging them to oppose it, threatening unilateral military action against Iran, and cheered on by the bellicose right wing in our country.
Nevertheless, the wheels turned, diplomacy prevailed, the bargain was made, and the initial terms of the agreement were met by Iran, this week. Allowing the United States and all of those other nations who came with us to the bargaining table to announce an end to those sanctions, providing relief to the Iranian people, freeing billions of their assets, and creating a basis for future cooperation between them and us.
The first fruits of that new relationship came the first day, as the Iranians released a number of United States Citizens from prison, allowing them to return home, and we did the same for them. This exchange of prisoners was not formally built into the agreement on nuclear weapons, but most people believe that it was “baked in.”
What is best about this deal, as far as I am concerned is the prospect of having normal relations with Iran. “Normalizing” relations is a long term goal, no one our government will even use those words, but with these steps we are moving in that direction, whereas one year ago, we were still drifting apart.
This is what we should all hold in mind. Iran is Persia. All of the Iranians I have ever met refer to themselves as Persians. Persia is a civilization stretching back in time for thousands of years, they are cultured, they are modern, they have split the atom…of all of the nations in that region, they are our natural ally, more so than most of the Arab states, more so than the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, whose tribal societies are so corrupt they may as well be lawless.
The Islamic militants that we are struggling with in the Levant come from that lawless Arabian culture. There backward interpretations of the Qur’an come from the fundamentalist madrasas funded and operated, exported to the Muslim world by the House of Saud.
This is not to say that the Iranians are free from the coercive forces of rightwing militant fundamentalism, they are not, they are a theocracy. The United States is not free from the forces of rightwing militant fundamentalism, there are many in our country who believe we are a “Christian” nation, and that have a sacred obligation to wage war on the enemies of Israel (as they perceive them to be), or the enemies of Christ (as they perceive them to be), even though Jesus himself had no enemies.
What Iran does have, is a society and a culture that is thousands of years old, that is rooted in law, and order, and science and technology, which is something that our other, so-called allies in the region are not.