"Beware the fury of a patient man." (John Dryden)
In the famous book “The epic of kings aka Shahname” by Ferdousi and in one of its exciting stories Sohrab(warrior) searches for a weapon to defeat Rostam( an other warrior). Here goes the exact words of the book translated by Helen Zimmern, Omphaloskepsis, Ames, Iowa (3) from persian into English:
When Sohrab heard the tidings he smiled, and bade that the foal be before him. And he tested it and found it to be strong. So he saddled it and sprang upon its back and cried, saying-
“Now that I own a horse like thee, the world shall be made dark for many”
Probably this evidence shows that race of arms always have been in place in Iran’s borders and feeling insecure and threat of neighbors was at the door step. In this article, Writer tries to bring a brief historical bird eye view about Iran’s history , afterwards argues that negotiation and talks between Iran and United States is beneficiary for all sides.
Iran has fifteen neighbors (Russia, Ghazaghistan, Turkmanistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Saudi Arabia). From this point of view Iran stands just after Russia. During her history Iran was always under threat of close and far neighbors.
In his recent history, During the WWII although Iran declared Neutrality, but on August 24, 1941 was attacked by allied forces especially Great Britain and Soviet Union.
The Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran was the invasion of Iran by British and Commonwealth forces and the Soviet Union, codenamed Operation Countenance, from August 25 to September 17, 1941. The purpose of the invasion was to secure Iranian oil fields and ensure supply lines (see Persian Corridor) for the Soviets fighting against Germany on the Eastern Front.(4)
Soviet Union before leaving Iran created two puppet republics (Kurdistan and Azerbaijan) to pressure Iran for oil concessions in the Iran’s northern providences. At last after one year dispute with sound and firm support of President Harry Truman, Iran raised the issue in the just born security council and won the case.(5)
The August 19, 1953 Military coup d’état against nationalist Prime Minister Dr. Mossadegh stands as the darkest point in the history of Iran and western countries relations, especially UK and US. Although Madeline Albrite, President Clinton’s Secretary of State commented these words (6):
“But that common ground has sometimes been shaken by other factors. In 1953 the United States played a significant role in orchestrating the overthrow of Iran's popular Prime Minister, Mohammed Massadegh. The Eisenhower Administration believed its actions were justified for Strategic reasons; but the coup was clearly a setback for Iran's Political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians Continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal Affairs.”
After the culmination of Islamic revolution in Iran (1979) because of hostage’s crisis, the official relations between two countries at last was cut off on April 7, 1980(7):
“The crisis led to lasting economic and diplomatic damage. On April 7, 1980, the United States broke diplomatic relations with Iran, a break which has yet to be restored. On April 24, 1981, the Swiss Government assumed representation of U.S. interests in Tehran via an interests section. Iranian interests in the United States are represented by the Iranian Interests Section of the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, DC.”
During the Iran- Iraq war (1980-8) United States according to Iran’s leaders, supported Saddam in his invasion to Iran and this amplified the hostilities between two nations.
With all these black clouds in the horizon, two countries have strong reasons to forget the dark past and look forward. Still according to Ex- President of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, there are misconfidence between two nations and both sides are suspicious about their strategic objectives. The good news is big community of Iranian in United States( nearly 1.1 million) those are assets for the future relations.(9) According a survey that have been published recently most of the Iranian don’t consider America as an enemy the most of the people like the resumption of the broken ties.(10)
Negotiation VS other solutions
“He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat” (11).
Suppose the readers of these lines are familiar with Iran’s nuclear dossier (12).
The last development in the context is United Nation’s Security Council resolution number S/RES/1835(2008)(13). In this resolution Security Council once again asks Iran to suspend the enrichment of Uranium. Iran foreign ministry spokesman rejected the resolution:
“Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said on Monday that the United Nations Resolution 1835 is an unjustified political statement. In his weekly press briefing, Qashqavi reaffirmed Iranian right to produce nuclear energy for civilian utility. He said that Western governments and the 5+1 group should clarify what they have done for confidence building with Iranian nation (14).
This scenario normally repeats after issuance of every Security Council Resolution and it seems the best solution at least to control the reach of crisis is negotiation with Iran. Probably Madeline Albright was the first person that raised the matter during a formal speech. Her argument was based on few points (15):
1- United States has a long record of negotiation with a same theme with North Korea. This approach is applicable to Iran.
2- The most important issue here is “Talking is not appeasement” these are Albright words. United States by taking part in negotiations can gain a first hand information from Iranian side. even during the Vietnam war United States had some kind of negotiation with Hanoi and in the last days of War, Negotiations and war activities were in progress together. Even now there are negotiation between western backed government of Afghanistan and Taliban in Saudi Arabia and in the past there were plenty of such connection between western allies and Taliban (16), Why not Iran?
3- According to Albrite, Negotiation with Iran means transferring tough messages and listening to Tehran to clarify what they want exactly and what is their security needs.
4- Five former secretaries of state, gathering to give their best advice to the next president, agreed that the United States should talk to Iran. The wide-ranging, 90-minute session in a packed auditorium at The George Washington University, produced exceptional unity among Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Warren Christopher, Henry A. Kissinger and James A. Baker III.(17)
No surprise that madline Albright was among these secretaries of state and probably she was most interested person among the said folk for the negotiation idea with Iran. After the first debate between McCain and Obama, Kissinger advocated of McCain’s structuring of negotiation with Iran. Senator McCain in this debate criticized Obama’s stance on negotiation without precondition with Iran. (18)
5- Senator Obama always supports of negotiation idea with Iran without preconditions but well preparations with Iranian leaders including president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.This is a vanguard stance that shows Senator Obama really believe in negotiation with Iran. In the said discourse the nations of United States and Iran will win, no matter the path and procedure of talks.
There are other recommendations for negotiation with Iran. Speculations are in the air that Washington going to suggest Iranians the reopening of US interest office in Tehran just after November presidential election.(19)All these shows that probably both sides have firm determination to restore diplomatic relation between two countries despite difficulties are ahead.
This article have been started by quoting from Persian literature and it looks wise to terminate by referring to that reference. The conclusion comes from Golestan Sa’di (20) chapter VIII (On rules for conduct in life) admonition #10:
“Wrath beyond measure produces estrangement and untimely kindness destroys authority. Be neither so harsh as to disgust the people with thee nor so mild as to embolden them.
Severity and mildness together are best
Like a bleeder who is a surgeon and also applies a salve.
A wise man uses neither severity to excess
Nor mildness; for it lessens his authority.
He neither exalts himself too much
Nor exposes himself at once to contempt.
A youth said to his father: ‘O wise man,
Give me for instruction one advice like an aged person.’
He said: ‘Be kind but not to such a degree
That a sharp-toothed wolf may become audacious.’
(3) //www.omphaloskepsis.com/ebooks/pdf/shahnam.pdf ( page 197)
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