I am an American of Iranian origin. Iranians have always admired American people and culture. We have over fifty million friends in Iranian people. But Iranians carry a genuine scar and distrust of American foreign policy. Our role in toppling the democratic government of Iran in 1953 and supporting the highly undemocratic regime of the Shah for a quarter of a century is the basis for that skepticism. Unfortunately, our current confrontational approach plays into the hands of the theocrats, renews old wounds and gives the appearance of ill intentions on the part of the United States. One can hardly blame Iranians for feeling wary. Nothing unites proud and independent people more than a foreign threat.
We speak of liberty for Iranian people. Iranians have worked passionately for democratic reforms. There are always periods of setbacks even in mature democracies. Though far from perfect, Iran is an evolving democracy, and its people are addressing issues internally and peacefully. Advocating direct intervention and violent regime change is a grave mistake and a great disservice to the American men and women who will have to fight the wars.
We seem to be willing to ignore the long-term impact of our actions to obtain short-term gains. We are supporting exiled groups who advocate the return of a monarchy. We are also once again allying with Mujahedin Khalq, a terrorist organization by our own definition. We are still suffering from the consequences of our support for Mujahedin (turned Taliban) in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Our logic for that support was fighting the Soviets. But in defeating one enemy, we chose the wrong friends.
We speak of Iran's plan to develop nuclear weapons. Iran claims it needs nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iranians feel under a constant cloud of threats. Constructive engagement would be more effective in allaying their fears. We can engage Iran in the same peaceful way we have chosen to deal with Libya.
Sadly, President Bush seems determined to pursue military options. Most of my family still lives in Iran. In trying to emotionally prepare myself for military attacks - if such preparation is at all possible - I imagine the deaths of each and every one in my family. I imagine the horror* *of my family dying. I see my aging mother and wonder who would bury her. And my mind superimposes the images I have seen of Fallujah -- bodies strewn around the deserted streets with wild hungry dogs hovering around them. I imagine my brothers hooded, naked, and humiliated. I imagine sending my 19 year-old son to serve his country, only to destroy the home of his own grandmother. "War is never pretty," Secretary Rumsfeld once said; it is even uglier when one experiences it personally.
It is morally, fiscally, and politically reckless to go to war in Iran. We do not need more enemies. We have great powers of persuasion in diplomacy to bring peace. Wars only breed more wars.
History repeats itself only because we forget. I wonder if our children will understand the full costs and consequences of our current actions? Or will they shake their heads and ask, "Why do they hate us?"