December 9, 2004
BEWITCHED, BOTHERED & BEWILDERED:
The paradox of anti-Americanism in Iran (Nicholas Schmidle, November 17, 2004, The Daily Star)
Of all the governments in the Middle East, the Iranian regime remains the most resolute in confronting the United States. The Iranian leaders' persistence in vilifying the U.S. illustrates the deep antagonisms between the two countries. Indeed, regime-generated anti-Americanism is the product of the Islamic ideology promoted by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but also a reflection of the tense and complex history of their relationship.
Yet Iran itself suffers from internal contradictions that the mullahs wish did not exist. The Iranian people love America, and there is very little the government in Tehran can do to cool pro-Americanism on the streets. In an ironic twist of political fate, 25 years after the Islamic revolution, Washington probably influences public opinion in Iran more than the Islamic regime. The Iranian government unwittingly created pro-Americanism in their country; Washington should be diligent not to unwittingly destroy it.
Many of the reports coming out of Iran in the past few years have shared a sense of bewilderment in describing the overabundance of pro-Americanism there. In a country where chanting "Death to America" is a provision of political assembly, the thought of being treated like a celebrity because of an American passport is almost unthinkable. After recently spending two months in Iran, my experiences attest that Iranians do, in fact, love America.
What's bewildering about a people living under a totalitarian regime loving America? Posted by Orrin Judd at December 9, 2004 8:18 PM