With regard to the historic accord between Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions, the “New York Times” commented: “Whether it portends a new relationship between the United States and Iran–after decades of coups, hostage-taking, terrorism and sanctions–remains a bigger question.” I quote the “New York Times” because its assessment of the agreement between the US and Iran is more rational than the outbursts of the GOP candidates such as Senator Ted Cruz or our own Senator Marco Rubio. Nevertheless, the statement in the “New York Times” is noticeably cautious and probably with good reason. Whether the agreement will really lead to a better relationship between the United States and Iran is admittedly uncertain. On the other hand, the repeated show of force by the US in the Middle East has certainly not improved the relationship nor has it made the region more stable.
No objective analyst can deny that the US is largely responsible for the instability in the Middle East including the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran itself, the sectarian violence in Iraq as well as the emergence of ISIS. Regarding the latter, thousands of Syrian refugees are now pouring into Switzerland seeking safety from the violence in their own country; the survival of these refugees depends on the humanitarian attitude and the financial support of the Swiss people, who themselves are not responsible for the Middle East crisis. If we in the US can take any steps toward damping the hostilities in the Middle East, we have the responsibility to do so. Is there an airtight guarantee that the agreement between the US and Iran will be successful in this regard? The answer is: No! Is there a risk involved? Yes! But there is a certain risk involved with any course of action, be it hostile or friendly, and there is never any real guarantee of success.
So we are dealing with a calculated risk for a probable gain, and a sober assessment of the risk involved in the present agreement must take the relevant historical information into account. References to the historical hostility of Iran toward the US are not incorrect, but they are incomplete. The Iranians have not been hostile toward us because they “hate democracy”, but rather because we overthrew their democracy by acts of terrorism in 1953. It is pointless to recount the details of the CIA operation in Iran since the documents are now public record. It is, however, important to remember that terrorism has been perpetrated on both sides. In 1953, the Iranians wanted to move into the modern world with a democratically elected president, but we and Brits would not allow it–the oil was too valuable to us. Our hostility toward their democracy resulted directly in the formation of the Islamic Republic of Iran. So in the end, neither the US nor Iran can claim complete innocence. From a historical perspective, the agreement strikes me as a positive move forward. If operation Ajax in 1953 created a hostile relationship with Iran, perhaps the relief from economic sanctions will create, if not a friendly, at least a more stable relationship of mutual respect.