I was 15 years old. I remember my parents talking about the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran. I was young and stupid, a phase that we all go through, and I was mad as HELL about the situation. Everyone in school talked about it, everyone wanted to bomb Iran back to the stone age without knowing anything about the reasons behind the Iranian actions. Just react, no thought necessary.
I remember when I talked with my parents about the situation. Yes, I was one of those weird kids that had parents that I could actually communicate with through the years! Both of my parents were politically astute, a trait that they passed down to me. I was always taught to ask questions, especially when no one else would. My parents taught me that blind obedience to anything was unhealthy and dangerous. Believe it or not, my parents had already discussed the war in Vietnam when I was younger. They covered the causes and the history rather than the headlines.
That discussion about Iran in late 1979 followed the same path. My parents pulled out the encyclopedia (no internet back then) and I read about the history of Iran and its relations with the US. After that, I was sent off to the local public library (part of the evil socialist agenda) and did more research. I did these things because I was taught that the most dangerous and stupid thing was to pretend I knew answers when I didn’t understand questions first. This goes back to never repeating the headlines as truth without knowing who wrote something and what their agenda was when they wrote it. I was taught to be a skeptic on basically everything.
Since this post is already getting long, I’ll skip ahead to today. I have followed things in the Middle East as an adult and while that doesn;t make me an expert, it does give me a different perspective than someone who watches the news and repeats whatever the current story is. I think that President Obama has done a great job in dealing with Iran. I do not believe that Iran is the personification of Evil, it is simply another nation that acts out of self-preservation and self-interest. This country has basically never gotten over the 1979 mindset when it comes to Iran. I know people who would love nothing better than to go to war with Iran, let alone make peace or deal with them diplomatically. I cannot help but see these people as hostages (pardon the turn of phrase) to a worldview that has long passed. 1979 can never be undone, but that should not stop us from moving forward.
I always knew that the day would come when we reached out to Iran and they reached out to us. It appears that day has arrived. Things will not be easy, it is obvious that neither side trusts the other fully yet. But, having said that, diplomacy is the way to improve relations between our two countries. Neither side benefits from an actual conflict. We accuse Iran of meddling in other countries in the region while we have had US forces on the ground in both Afghanistan and Iraq in the recent past, and still in Afghanistan. Looking at a map should give you some idea about why Iran has been somewhat reluctant to deal with the US in recent years.
The nuclear agreement reached recently will not be perfect, no agreements ever are if they are sincere. It is a starting point however, and one that we should not hesitate to explore.