Monday, April 30, 2007

Time to talk to Iran

The history of the Cold war between 1945 and 1988 is a powerful demonstration of how talking to one's sworn enemies can eventually result in peace. Nixon talked to China in the 70s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher extended the hand of friendship to Gorbachev in the 80s.

In the 90s, and against all odds, South Africa made a peaceful transition to majority rule when De Klerk and Mandela started talking. More recently a fragile, if somewhat imperfect, peace has descended in Northern Ireland following the decision by the British Government, encouraged by the Americans, to talk to the IRA.

Could some of these lessons now be applied to Iran?

In 1953 Britain and America organised a coup which removed their democratically elected President, Mohammed Moussadeq. Our respective Governments replaced him with the Shah who ruled as a hated dictator for the next 26 years. The Shah was thrown out in a revolution and replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini. Shortly afterwards Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. During the ten year war which followed both Iran and Iraq received military supplies from Western governments. It is therefore not surprising that the Iranians distrust the West. Yet following the attacks on the Trade Towers the the Iranians made overtures of support to the US which were subsequently rebuffed.

With Iraq on the brink of self destruction and Afghanistan descending further then ever into lawlessness, the time has surely arrived for Britain and the US to review their hostile relationship with Iran by offering to talk to them without any preconditions.

Iran is far more complex than the religious theocracy run by a President and an Ayatollah which is the image usually portrayed. In their Parliament and elsewhere powerful voices call for change. Many in high places want peace with the West and better working relationships. Seventy percent of the population are under the age of 30 and are showing signs of becoming increasingly distanced from religious hardliners. It is imperative that we reach out to those who want better relationships with the West instead of playing into the hands of the hardliners on all sides.

4 Comments:

Blogger pilgrim4progress said...

Absolutely right!

A military conflict would be unimaginably catastrophic. We must and can do the hard work of diplomacy. The U.S. administration needs to hear this message over and over again until it gets through.

Please sign the petition at StopIranWar.com urging American leadership to use diplomacy, not war, to resolve differences with Iran.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Fidothedog said...

We could try but I think the hard liners in Iran would not listen. Instead they would see any approach as a weak stance on the part of the west.

11:07 AM  
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6:03 AM  
Blogger kieron said...

So true, so right David and good Britons should do their bit to convince American grass roots that Iran is not the 'big ogre' or part of the 'axis of evil' (see coiaorguk on The Washington Post) for my part.

If only David was shadow foreign secretary I would come back to Conservatives, right now I remain 'in the wilderness.'

5:57 PM  

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