In a world filled with mounting crises that are often driven by conflicting interests, it is easy to divide the globe along political borders, thereby hiding the true nature of global conflicts. Countries have always gone to war against other countries while the enemy of a nation’s People has traditionally been the People of the enemy state. It is, after all, far easier to respond to the hostility of a foreign power by condemning an entire country. In reality, nations are composed of special interest groups with diverging views and interests that often conflict. As such, the condemnation of entire civilizations tends to serve the interests of those who seek to empower themselves through division and conflict.
When it comes to resolving the hostile relationship between Iran and the West, the efforts of Iranians and Western hardliner to sabotage the Iranian Nuclear Deal has been a persistent threat. Meanwhile, there is also a sincere concern that the Iranian government is simply using the guise of a nuclear agreement to free itself of crippling sanctions without changing its threatening policies. News of Iran shipping 25,000lbs of low-enriched uranium to Russia as part of the Nuclear Deal suggests Iran is trying to mend fences; whereas, Iran’s October launch of a medium-range ballistic missile in violation of the agreement is a huge red flag that cannot be ignored.
Ultimately, the concern for the International Community is whether the policies of hardliners in Iran will prevail. Up to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian officials are more than proud to spit “death to America” and other threatening rhetoric. This, of course, sends the message that the Islamic Republic has not changed since the Iranian Hostage Crisis. When it comes to any form of authoritarian regime, it is difficult to reengage an adversarial nation, because the leadership has not changed; whereas, hostilities between democracies can be resolved with the cyclic change of leadership.
To that end, the rise of moderates like Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has made the US more willing to deal with Iran, because it suggested the bulk of Iranian leadership might be less hostile toward the US and allies like Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Ultimately, the US is using the Nuclear Deal to access how much of the Iranian regime continues to be hostile toward the US and its allies. Assuming Iran will eventually obtain a nuclear weapon if chooses to do so, the International Community needs to see a far less hostile Iran. Because of the authoritarian nature of the Islamic Republic, Iran will only be less hostility toward the US and its allies if Iranian leadership has truly changed its outlook on the outside world.
The blunt truth is that rogue elements within the United States, including the CIA and NSA, have committed great wrongs in places like Iran for the sake of guaranteeing supposed “American interests.” On the other hand, these wrongs were committed under past American leadership by past US officials. Although the US and Iran continue to have an adversarial relationship and rogue elements within the US are still engaging in underhanded dealings, the American People as a whole struggle to identify and correct the behavior of these wrongdoers. The Americans are not the enemy of Iran. Frankly, the American government can change with every election, yet Iranian hardliners continue to hold onto the outdated notion that the United States and its allies are the enemies of Iran and all the Iranian People.
Americans do not blame the Iranian People for the wrongs of the Revolutionary Guard, because our democratic culture has enabled us to recognize not everyone in a nation supports the policies of their government nor the behavior of affluent members of society. Where democracy ideally empowers people by making them responsible for who is elected, it also empowers People to express their dissent. In practice, the citizens of a democracy may not be able to hold their elected officials and public servants accountable for all of their wrongdoings, but the ability to dissent from the views of those in power allows citizens to hinder those who use power to serve their own interests and agendas. Ultimately, this creates an opportunity for change.
When it comes to hardliners inside the Untied State and Iran, dividing Americans and Iranians along political borders hides the true conflict. The war is not between the American and Iranian People; it is between the Revolutionary Guard and those who want to subjugate the Iranian People. Looking at other conflicts in the world, the American People are not at odds with the rest of the Peoples of the Middle East, the Russian Peoples, the Chinese Peoples, the North Korean People, or any other civilization. All conflicts of interests involving the West are typically over the policies of governments and/or the diverging agendas of special interest groups. Moreover, recognizing the true nature of a conflict is the only means of actually solving them.
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