Military Matters — Military Review: U.S. needs better understanding of Iran
As talk continues in Washington D.C. about the possibility of going to war with Iran over its nuclear program, there's at least one voice urging a different path - and it's emanating from a key publication of the U.S. Army.
This month's issue of Military Review - the Army ideas journal published at Fort Leavenworth - contains an essay by Houman Sadri, a professor at the University of Central Florida, who suggests that U.S.-Iranian tensions could be eased if American officials showed a better understanding of how Iranians see the world.
"Since 1979, American leaders have shaped their policies toward Iran through the unforgiving and non-pragmatic prism of the Iranian hostage crisis. As a result, they have consistently failed to seek the real causes of current policy disagreements or to pursue mutually acceptable solutions with Iran itself. In short, U.S. policy makers do not understand contemporary Iran and, frankly, have shown little interest in doing so."
Sadri says a number of issues concern Iranians:
- The U.S. now has troops in all countries bordering Iran: Iraq, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkey. That leads Iranian leaders to suspect they're being prepped for invasion.
* The U.S. has given deference to other countries - India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan - that have developed nuclear weapons, making U.S. vehemence about Iran's program confusing to Iranians.
* Iranians have long memories that include anger over the U.S.-backed 1953 coup that returned the shah to power there, U.S. support for Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war, and the shootdown of an Iranian airliner by the USS Vincennes.
Sadri goes on to suggest some "Golden Rules" for managing relations with Iran. And he concludes:
"An improved U.S.- IRI relationship would greatly lessen the tension in the world. It could shorten the conflict in Iraq, keep both sides from precipitating a debacle in Iran, and perhaps prevent an all-out conflagration in the Middle East and Europe. The possible payoffs are enormous; the outlay - listen, respect, reconsider, engage-a relative pittance."
There are other notable articles in the latest issue of Military Review that we'll summarize in coming editions of this blog.