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Dorood bar Amrika
What Iranians owe to the United States of America

Farid Pirouzian
April 29, 2005

There is a common belief among us Iranians, in exile or in Iran, that the United States owes us, a lot! The foundation of this belief lies, on one hand, in deep-rooted historic facts such as that of the CIA-backed military coup against Mosadegh, the Iranian nationalist democrat leader, some fifty years ago. On the other hand, this belief is also based on Iranian perception of the West in general and the United States in particular. The West and the U.S. are perceived as manipulators who are planning everything for us. According to this belief, we Iranians are always the serial victims of Western and American policies.

The Iranian regime has used this national paranoia to reinforce its authority for years. Islamist regime has labeled America as the Great Satan and isolated Iran from the rest of the world. But what if we Iranians take another look at history and invert the question: “What does the U.S. owe to the Iranian people?” In doing so the question becomes: “WHAT DO THE IRANIAN PEOPLE OWE TO THE UNITED STATES?”

Is there anything for which we could be grateful to America? Yes. There are many reasons to be grateful to the United States and even to apologize to Americans for our behavior. Some of these reasons are:

National sovereignty & territorial integration
After World War II, the Soviet Union army would not leave Iran. Pro-Soviet forces seized power in Iran’s Kurdistan & Azerbaijan and declared them autonomous republics. Iran faced a real challenge to preserve its national sovereignty and territorial integration. The Soviet army prevented Iranian forces from intervening in these two regions. There was a real risk that these two regions would become new Soviet satellite territories.

Stalin’s army wasn’t accustomed to leaving a country once they entered it! But the U.S. exerted enormous pressure on Stalin to withdraw his army from Iran. Following this withdrawal, the puppet pro-Soviet movements in Kurdistan and Azerbaijan collapsed, and Iran preserved its national sovereignty. It is hard to imagine this happening without U.S. influence and pressure.

The Golden Age of the Shah
The Shah, last king of Iran, was the only pro-American ruler in our history.

The U.S. exerted great influence on our country militarily and economically. The Shah was constantly criticized by his Iranian opposition, both from the left and the right, as an instrument in U.S. hands so that it could apply its politics in Iran. At present, if we look at the Shah’s period we can consider it the golden age of our contemporary history. On one hand, it is true that the Shah was a dictator with a corrupt family and friends who never tolerated any political opposition. But on the other hand his human rights record was much better than that of other dictators or of Iranian Islamic rulers. Iran’s economic development under his rule thrived far more than that of its neighbors.

Corruption, poverty, prostitution and drug addiction skyrocketed after the Islamic revolution.

The Shah’s political intolerance was nothing compared to Islamic mass murderers when they seized power in Iran. The irony of history is that all the opposition forces who accused the the U.S. of establishing a dictatorship in Iran failed themselves to create a democratic regime or a multiparty democratic organization.

Bloodless revolution
In 1978 millions of Iranians demonstrated against the Pro-American Shah. Factories, schools and universities went on strike. The Pahlavi dynasty began to crumble. The United States under the Carter administration remained faithful to its human rights doctrine and didn’t intervene in Iran to save the Shah from the people’s will. No military coup was planned, no brutal action was masterminded by the U.S. A more or less bloodless revolution happened.

Among Iran’s neighbors, the pro-Soviet Afghan state also faced at the same time a popular uprising. The Red Army intervened militarily in Afghanistan to save its government from the people’s will. The result was many years of war and a blood bath.

President Carter’s policy, based on human rights, saved thousands of lives in Iran. The Iranian people got what they wished for: An Islamic revolution

A year after the revolution, a group of Iranian Islamic students stormed the U.S. embassy and seized its diplomats. Ayatollah Khomeini and many Iranian political groups backed this criminal action. Hostage-taking lasted 444 days, during which American diplomats were exposed blindfolded in front of cameras and angry crowds. This hostage-taking was an unimaginable violation of international law. Islamic rulers used this event to isolate Iran from the outside world.

Just as President Clinton’s government apologized for a U.S.-backed coup against Mosadegh, so Iran must someday apologize for this hostage-taking. A nation acted as an outlaw.

Disappearing regional foes
In the days of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, Iran was in a conflicted position between Afghanistan and Iraq. Saddam went to war with Iran for eight years and harbored Iranian opposition, called the Mujahedin, in Iraq.

The Shiite and their clergy, so close and dear to Iran, were persecuted constantly by Saddam. Taliban fundamentalists in their turn massacred the Persian-speaking minority in Afghanistan and even killed Iranian diplomats. Both Saddam and the Taliban disappeared because of U.S. military intervention. These regimes, who were a threat to Iran’s security, were washed away from the political map.

There is no doubt that the United States pursues its own national interests. But these interests can coexist with those of Iran. From the Soviet withdrawal from Iran 60 years ago to Saddam’s replacement by a multi-party system in Iraq, these events were beneficial for both Iran and the United States.

There is no doubt that democratizing Iran would be a positive event for the U.S., but Iranians would be the ones who benefit the most.

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