April 10, 2005


Ordinary Iranians Soften Toward U.S.: But Prosperity, Government Menace May Have Tamped Down Reform Movement (ABC News, 4/10/05)

Twenty-five years ago, Mohsen Mirdamadi and Ebrahim Asgharzadeh were young Iranian engineering students among the revolutionaries who took and held American hostages for 444 days in Tehran.

In fact, Asgharzadeh claims taking over the U.S. embassy where the hostages were seized was his idea. But these days, he and Mirdamadi are members of Iran's political reform movement, and look back at the hostage situation with some regret.

"As I have said repeatedly, burning the American flag was wrong," Asgharzadeh said through a translator. "And even back then, there were many students just like me who thought we should not burn the American flag. We had no right to insult the sacred symbol of another nation."

Nearly half of Iran's population was born after the hostage crisis. In a country growing richer with rising oil prices, and enjoying satellite television and American fast food, most young Iranians have little interest in politics. And with the Islamic revolution 25 years in the past, the grainy images mean little to Iran's youth. [...]

In Iran today, there are still occasional anti-American rallies, but the protestors' faces usually are older.

America is hardly the great Satan to a group of young English-speaking Iranians who gathered for ABC News' "Nightline." In fact, the students said they love to listen to music by American rappers like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, and to watch Larry King on CNN.

"There's a very positive image of American people in this society," said Siamak Namazi, a pollster. "Some almost argue that Iran is the last pro-American society in the Middle East."

In Tehran, where memories of the revolution are still fresh, even former revolutionaries like Mirdamadi and Asgharzadeh slowly have been moderating their views on America. Both are members of the nation's reform movement. And despite their revolutionary pasts, both have been banned from political office.

Asgharzadeh said they have no regrets about Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution because, "A humane and popular revolution, at that time, was an historic necessity for Iran. Why should we be sorry?"

Nowadays, though, Mirdamadi stresses that the embassy takeover was not personal.

"That event was not a hostility between these persons who were on two sides of this conflict," he said. "This was a problem between two countries, and a result of a historical events that happened at the time."

The President needs to just go over the heads of the Regime and speak directly to the Iranian people about the bright future we share with them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2005 5:39 PM

Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Larry King?

More destructive power right there than in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Posted by: David at April 10, 2005 5:50 PM

The Americans just have to insure that Iraq keeps making progress and national pride alone will topple the Iranian regime. A return to $30/barrel oil wouldn't hurt either.

Posted by: bart at April 11, 2005 6:53 AM

Months ago there was an article in the Atlantic about Iran and the legacy of the hostage crisis. One of the Iranians who lead it said they did not expect Americans to react so negatively. They thought Americans would see it as simply a sort of college protest like which happens in America, as if storming embassy grounds was not an act of war. Other Iranians expressed disappointment that the revolution ended the way they did - they did not think ousting the Shah would lead to Khomeini taking over. Their naivete was simply infuriating.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at April 11, 2005 12:42 PM