What Iran doesn’t know about the United States will really, really hurt them

It is now standard operating procedure for commentators to observe how large the gulf of ignorance is between the United States and Iran.  If any American observer tries to analyze Iranian domestic politics, there will be at least three commentators waiting to jump on that analysis as lacking in depth and nuance.

This is all well and good, but after reading Jon Lee Anderson’s New Yorker story on his visit to Iran I think it’s safe to say that other countries suffer from this same problem when they try to understand the United States.  Consider the following: 

Despite Ahmadinejad’s assurances that I was free to interview whomever I liked, a senior government official told me that I should avoid behaving “sneakily” during my stay, illustrating his point with a serpentine movement of his hand. In the end, I was authorized to interview only one other person: Hossein Shariatmadari, an adviser to Khamenei, and the editor-in-chief of Kayhan, the daily newspaper that speaks for Iran’s clerical establishment. Shariatmadari was imprisoned in his twenties for his activities as a militant follower of Ayatollah Khomeini, and was serving a life sentence when the Shah fled Iran, in 1979. When Khomeini took power, he was freed, but the Shah’s… >>>

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