Iran and the United States

Book by Seyed Hossein Mousavian

Article and Review by GlobalMacroForex

If you’ve only heard the US mainstream media’s version of the Iran/US relationship, you’re in for a rude surprise because this book sheds light on the long list of the horrible things America has done in the past that led us to this point.  Rather than just point fingers and play the blame game, author Seyed Mousavian lays out the path forward toward peace.

-Iran is misunderstood and peace is possible

-The CIA backed the Shah, who violently suppressed peaceful political opposition

-America armed Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war

-USS Vincennes shot down a civilian Iranian aircraft

-US Strategy is focused on regime change

-Iran has its own terrorist groups

-Strategies for Peace negotiations

If you’re not familiar with the Iranian revolution and the kidnapping of hostages at the US embassy, I highly recommend you first read my simple article on how America armed both sides of the Iran/Iraq war.  For those of you who know your Iranian-US history, let’s dive right into this book…

Iran is misunderstood

One of Mousavian’s main themes is that Iran is misunderstood.  He argues western journalists are too quick to paint the entire nation as having a certain attitude or that everything Shiites do reflect the views of Iran’s political leaders.  He gives a few examples of this, such as how Ayatollah Khomeini disapproved of the slogan “Death to America” when it was shouted at the US embassy in Tehran in 1979. 

While Khomeini was openly hostile to Saddam/Iraq, Mousavian writes Khomeini tried to avoid tensions with America.  According to Mohsen Fafqdoost, former Defense Minister, when Fafqdoost went into Khomeini’s office to ask if Fafqdoost could set up in 1983 in the US Embassy, Khomeini replied “Why do you want to go there?  Are we going to be in conflict with America for a thousand years?  Don’t go there.”

Mousavian makes it clear that Iran’s motive for nuclear power is not to turn it into a weapon.  He understands and sympathizes with American fears of a nuclear weapon, but asserts that Iran has a right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes under the treaty that America forced upon the whole world — the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.   Under this treaty, any nation can acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as long as it is demonstrated that it’s not being turned into a weapon.

Iranian Rafsanjani criticized the West’s double standards on these issues, emphasizing that Iran’s commitment would be based on international rules and norms.

US history of oppressing Iran

Mousavian brings up America’s dark and hypocritical past in dealing with Iran.  I mentioned many of these points in my article on how America armed both sides of the Iran/Iraq war, which is a great introduction for anyone new to this subject.  The US CIA coup backed the Shah who violently suppressed peaceful political opposition; this set a precedent in the country for Anti-American thought because US president Jimmy Carter funded and praised the Shah, who murdered thousands of peaceful protestors just for oil domination.

In addition, once Iran broke free from the Shah after the 1979 revolution, America armed Saddam Hussein in the Iraq-Iran war.  Also, the US had Kuwait oil cargo ships fly the American flag so that there would be an excuse to suck America into the war if one of the ships were to be hit whether by accident or intentionally.  America sold Saddam Hussein chemical weapons which he used against the Kurds (a minority group in the Middle East).

Also on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down a civilian Iranian aircraft.  It was Iran Air Flight 655, even though a different American ship, the USS Sides, told the captain of the Vincennes it was a civilian aircraft.  This did not deter the captain of Vincennes from shooting the aircraft down.

The captain later testified he had misidentified the airplane as an F-14 fighter, and therefore ordered the firing of the two missiles that killed all 290 passengers including 66 children.  It goes down as one of the worst tragedies in aviation history at the hands of the US Military “by accident,” but received not a single apology; the US authorities gave no remorse of any kind.

US focus is regime change

Mousavian points out how the US policy towards Iran has always been for regime change. From the CIA coup to arming Saddam for invasion, to sanctions and proxy wars, the goal of the US is not to establish peace.  They never really cared whether nuclear power was abused.  The goal of the United States has always been regime change.  They’re furious they lost control of the oil region from the 1979 revolution and needed to reassert control.  Mousavian argues that this is what the sanctions are really about.

Mousavian contends if the US makes it clear in its negotiations that the intention of the US is no longer regime change and admits to mistakes in the past in this regard, then the Iranian leadership is less likely to view nuclear negotiations as a threat and would be more amiable to compromise.

Iran has its own terrorist groups

All this scrutiny is laid on Iran for funding terrorist groups, but Mousavian argues that Iran has its own internal terrorists just like everybody else.  In fact, the author points out how America is funding these groups. 

Two of these groups are the Party for Life in Kurdistan (PJAK) and the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK).  PJAK was on the US State Department terrorism list from 1997 to 2012, but was taken off the list in 2012 so America could fund and arm them.   PJAK murdered innocent Iranian lives, so this is very hypocritical considering what America says about Iran funding Hezbollah.

America is hypocritical

America accuses Iran of human rights violations, but America’s track record in the Middle East and the rest of the world is pretty bad, according to Mousavian. 

“Saudi Arabia and many other US Allies in the Middle East clearly violate liberal values, but Washington has maintained strategic relations as well as long-standing economic and defense ties with them.” 

The author contends that Iran is criticized for human rights violations while America ignores or funds others in the region.  For example, Saudi Arabia’s 2011 death squad crackdown in Bahrain didn’t get a peep of negative presss when US Defense Secretary Robert Gates met with King Abdullah.  Gates told the international press the situation was fine.  Gates: “Relationship is in a good place”

Israel as a US/Iran roadblock

Note: I am not personally taking a stance on the Israel issue.  I am merely conveying what the author wrote.

Mousavian acknowledges Israel is a huge roadblock for peace between the US and Iran.  While the author acknowledges that Iran has funded Hezbollah, he insists that the majority of the funding is for Palestinian humanitarian aid.  In addition, he disputes the blame being shifted to Iran for the resistance to Israeli violence.  He writes,

“Israel is a non-Muslim state that has taken over Muslim lands by force, with support of world powers.  Neither the Palestinians, nor the Arabs and Muslims as a whole, bear any responsibility for the mass murders carried out by the Nazi regime in Germany against the Jews during the Second World War.  The responsibility for those horrible crimes against humanity that took place in Europe lies with their perpetrators.  Iran’s government considers it unjust that Palestinians should be uprooted from their homes and nation in order to compensate millions of Nazi atrocities.”

The author is upset that Israel denies Palestinians the right to return to their homeland while Israelis are permitted full immigration.

War isn’t an option

Mousavian lays out the case for why war with Iran is not really an option for the United States.  Iran could shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passage that many of America’s Sunni Arab allies use to transport oil.  This move would skyrocket the price of oil.

In addition, invading Iran by ground would not work because Iran is so mountainous, which makes it hard to send troops uphill as they are being shot down on.  This geography has allowed Iran to remain isolated from Sunni invasion for so many years amidst flat desert land.  It’s how Iran was able to survive the Iran-Iraq war as Saddam was unable to mobilize his troops up the mountains.

The author notes how US Defense Secretary Robert Gates once remarked that bombing Iran would “create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.”

Negotiation Strategies for Peace

The author makes it clear that “Iran will not bow to coercion.”    He argues that the Iranian culture is fiercely resistant to humiliation, regardless of the cost.  Therefore the US sanctions only produced a dramatic rise in nuclear capability.  Instead, Mousavian promotes the following framework for nuclear negotiations:

-Full transparency of Iran’s nuclear program

-Adoption of measures to ensure there is no weaponization

-Iran’s right to carry [nuclear technology] under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

-Lifting sanctions on Iran

He points out how America should allow US oil companies to invest in Iran.  By investing in the region, it would create profits for US firms and give Iran the development it needs to grow into a more economically stable and prosperous society.  Through resources and trade, it fosters an interdependence that reduces the risk of hostile confrontations and helps prevent military conflicts.  Mousavian points out how Iran isn’t just an oil nation but also has a diversified economy and broad economic base that would be great consumers for US goods, making this a lucrative opportunity for foreign direct investment.

Mousavian suggests the resumption of academic student exchange programs so these two cultures can better understand each other.  Also, the promotion of tourism would go a long way towards peace. While the author does acknowledge that some Iranians may have the wrong attitude, he writes,

“Some politicians in Iran view America as a declining power–one on the verge of collapse.  Therefore, they argue that if Iranians resist, they will ultimately be the victor in this battle.”

To deal with these types of people, Mousavian says to focus on the common enemy of Al-Qaeda.  Al-Qaeda is a thorn in the side of both parties and by cooperating together they can truly bring justice for the victims of this group’s terrorist attacks.  In addition, the US sale of civilian aircraft to Iran would promote safety and economic interdependence as well as Iran’s admission to World Trade Organization.  All of these actions would help to bolster peace.

Conclusion

Seyed Hossein Mousavian lays bare America’s hypocritical and dark past of mass murder in Iran through the CIA, the Shah, Saddam Hussein, and the Iran-Iraq war.  He makes the case why war isn’t really an option because of Iran’s unique geography and why peace is the only solution.  A clear set of negotiating principles are laid out and many suggestions for increasing interdependence economically in ways that would foster peace.  Only when both sides acknowledge the past can there be mutual forgiveness and peace.