The Iranian


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Sehaty Foreign Exchange


December 26, 2000

National interest

I read Dr. Amirahmadi's article ["The time is now"] with much enthusiasm and interest. Like most Iranian-Americans, I long for nothing but improved relations between Iran and the United States. A cooperation between these two countries will translate itself into better opportunities for Iranians living in the United States, if nothing else.

There are, however, at least two theoretical points in Dr. Amirahmadi's otherwise excellent analytical piece which I think need further discussion.

The first regards his assertion that "Tehran and the Iranian public have come to increasingly realize that working with the U.S. will mean recognizing its global interests and leadership." If this development is true, then I hope it does not imply that Iran is willing or should be willing to subjugate her interests to those of the United States.

To have an understanding of others' interests is knowledge, but to put those interests over and above one's own interests is an act that no modern nation and independent government is expected to advocate. Such a gesture will not impress the American government or its people either. As I am sure many of us know by living in this culture, Americans live mostly by the principle of self-interest and respect only those who do likewise.

My second point is with respect to an implied suggestion that "the sooner relations with the United States, the better." Although an improved cultural relations and educational exchanges between Iran and the United States is to the benefit of both countries and might result in a mutual understanding, I suspect rushing into an extensive economic and political relation is not all that wise.

Iran and the United States are two countries of unequal power in economic and technological matters. Extended economic and political relations with the United States can not endure and cannot be stable under conditions that the United States has shown only mild interests here or there in improving relations.

Opening relations with Iran could only last for long and through hard times, when and if the United States puts her heart and mind into it in the same way that it was done for China.

As Iranians living in the United States, we should seek nothing less than an equally beneficial relationship between the two countries. It is not enough if the U.S. accepts or tolerates Iran. The United States should grant Iran the same rights as other free nations. In the current world order, all nations and their governments are entitled to the same rights and privileges, if they are aware of them, and if they are willing to exercise them.

That is exactly how the Third World societies should negotiate for ending the era of neo colonialism and/or imperialism in favor of a new world order based on recognition of different interests.

Poopak Ta'ati


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