Give negotiations with Iran a chance

As sensitive nuclear negotiations are beginning with Iran, isn’t it time we assess our foe and do some soul searching? A look at a bit of history might help. For instance, why do many Iranians hate us and why does their supreme leader call us the “Great Satan”? After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the first democratically elected prime minister was assassinated in what was generally assumed to be a CIA plot. He was thought to have communist leanings. America then promoted the return of the brutal Shah. In Iranian eyes, he was akin to Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Bashar Assad of Syria and other Mideast despots.

The Iraq-Iran war saw America abetting both sides while looking askance at Hussein’s aggression, which resulted in almost a generation of Iranian youth being wiped out. The fact that Israel has been our oldest and best ally in the Mideast has rankled Iranians from the start. In Iranian eyes and, for that matter, Islamists in general, the Holocaust happened in Europe but the Palestinians were punished and their exodus into neighboring countries caused much resentment throughout the region. Another sore point is the vociferous opposition to the Iranian program by Israel while it maintains its own cache of nuclear weapons with no oversight or inspection.

Of course it goes without saying that the Iranians have done precious little to enhance our trust in them. It should be readily apparent that no one approaches these complicated negotiations with clean hands. In view of this, the Senate’s consideration of putting on stricter sanctions will risk scuttling the whole deal. We can only hope that petty personal politics will not prevail.

Henry N. Stahl Jr.