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US: Wrong Understanding of Iran Continues

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mahmoud Reza Golshanpazhooh

During the annual conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in 2005, I told IISS President, Professor Fracois Heisburg, that the main problem between Iran and the West was information gap, particularly West's failure to realize the realities about Iran and the morale and mentality of its people.  In that year, Iran's nuclear issue had not become as complicated as it is today. And in response to questions posed by some experts present at the forum as to why Iran had changed course in negotiations with EU-3, I said the mistakes and misinterpretations of the West had frustrated not only the Iranian government but its nation and recalled the historical experience that the West and Western countries were not well-wishers of Iran. Therefore, I noted, the blame for this change of outlook on behalf of Iran went to those who attempted to undermine Iran's relations with Afghanistan despite Tehran's cooperation at the Bonn Conference; and totally overlooked the damages and losses suffered by Iran as a result of a volatile Iraq and accused Iran of being behind the war-torn country's instability without presenting any appropriate reasons and evidences.     

Now few years since that event, the remarks made by President Bush in Abu Dhabi during his latest tour of the Middle East clearly show that the wrong perception of the West about Iran still continues. The fact that Bush calls Iran a major source of instability in the world at a time that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Qatar are expanding their relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran shows the US president's poor knowledge about the Middle East and particularly the Iranian nation. The American president is beating the drum of war right at a time that the report issued by 16 US intelligence agencies rejects the immediate threat of Iran considered by the Neocons as a mere hallucination.

It is interesting to imagine the extent of shame Washington would have to face after these media outbursts and propaganda ploys subside and after the truth about Iran is exposed!  How could the US president accuse Iran of being a major threat against global peace and stability while:

  • IRI's defense budget is much lower than those of its tiny neighbors;
  • All its nuclear installations are operating under supervision of IAEA and as clearly admitted by IAEA chief it has had no diversion in its nuclear activities;
  • It has had no historical record of aggression nor even one of its nationals has ever been involved in terrorist attacks against American people;
  • Its government is one of the most democratic systems in the Middle East;
  • It has held more than 30 free elections in post-1979 Islamic Revolution; and
  • It runs an elected parliament and its president is elected with the direct vote of the people.

Does President Bush think that by pretending to be a supporter of the Iranian people he would be able to reduce the anger of the Iranians because of his ignorance and paranoia? Is Iran truly so much a threat that the Bush administration needs to "rally friends around to confront this danger?"

It seems that the American president by making these statements has not only failed to find new friends but has actually pushed back many others. The proof to this claim can be sought in numerous analyses made by Western and regional media in this respect.

The extent of support voiced by Arab and European analysts and experts for the anti-Iran remarks of George Bush has been very little. Bearing this in mind, the question is how could the US president take any step towards tranquility and stability in the region with the kind of remarks he has been making during his week-long tour of the Middle East?

It is regrettable that the level of the US administration's knowledge about Iran and Iranians has not changed in recent years and remains as little as possible.

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