My prayer: Iran deal will help millennials in US and Iran bridge the divides (COMMENTARY)

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Iranians gesture as they celebrate in the street following a nuclear deal with major powers, in Tehran on July 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/TIMA

Iranians gesture as they celebrate in the street following a nuclear deal with major powers, in Tehran on July 14, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/TIMA

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(RNS) As I came to know Iranian millennials, what I experienced was strikingly similar to my day-to-day interactions with Americans, especially students at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

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  • “What gives?”

    The only proven way to deal with a dictatorial, religious (superstitious) country like Iran is to open their culture up – bring them into modernity, trade with them, bring them practical technologies and medicines. Open their access to internet communications to help lessen the powers of the ruling clerical bullies.

    The young generation in Iran will quickly grab this opportunity for solutions to real problems of wealth creation, civilized commerce, demand driven distribution of services. International banking and women’s emancipation won’t be far behind. Iran will become more secular as the old guard dies off.

    War is what created the disaster of current Iran!
    When America – in its war mongering ignorance – threw out the democratically elected Iranian Regime 50 years ago and installed the dictator Shah
    it spurred the Islamic Revolution – which set back their civilization 6 centuries!

    War only makes things worse.

  • Larry

    Iran’s government is facing a serious demographic issue. The majority of the population was born well after the Islamicist revolution. Unlike most muslim majority nations, Islamic fundamentalism is the “old guard”. It is not perceived as some form of dissent as it is elsewhere. You have a generation which has repeatedly protested for democratic reform and was met with violence. Unless Iran’s economy suddenly gets a boost

    Iran’s government needs a conflict to drum up support for itself. To create enough fear that they are willing to run to the government from protection rather than run from it in repression. The whole phony nuclear arms effort is a way to manufacture a existential conflict for the nation. Iran’s nuclear program is largely a bluff. Pretty much all sides of the issue know this by now.

  • Jack

    It’s funny how the part of Max’s post I agree with is a copy-and-paste job from someone other than himself, while the nonsense about the 1954 installation of the Shah somehow being the catalyst for the Islamist Revolution a quarter century later is clearly his own.

  • Jack

    The idea that an agreement with the oppressors of the Green Revolution is going to help the Green Revolution is utterly preposterous. It will solidify the oppressors’ position in Iran in every way.

  • Larry

    Its not so much of an agreement as calling their bluff. Not giving them the conflict they need to put down the Green revolution once and for all.

    Iran’s nuclear weapons development effort is laughable by international standards. No nation with serious intentions on building nuclear weapons is as open and obvious about the most costly and time consuming part of the process. That would be the build-up of enriched uranium/production of plutonium process.

    Iran has been practically crowing about its ability to do this. Any nation with serious nuclear ambitious is capable of keeping such efforts underground as to be entirely undetectable. It is necessary because it represents the one step where outside efforts can stop nuclear weapons development dead in its tracks. If Pakistan, India and China could do this, so could have Iran. Iran’s failure to hide this process is telling.

    Its a bluff and I would be certain that everyone involved, including Israel knows this.

  • @Jack,


    Read a book Jack! I do get tired of explaining so much history to so many people such as yourself who have no experience with reading books.

    Lawrence Wright’s, “The Looming Tower” describes the rise Islamic fundamentalism and why the Middle East was ripened for it. The coup against the Iranian democracy by the USA and then the installation of the vicious Shah – did nothing but fuel resentment. After the Israelies won the 1967 war the resentments dovetailed with other forces.

    Iran would not have experienced an Islamic Revolution were it not for the dumb US idea of installing a Shah as a regional Persian puppet to insure gulf oil.

  • Jack

    I know all about the history, Max. I just don’t appreciate cowardly attempts to blame the rise of Islamist extremism on the United States and Israel. The granddaddy of this extremism, the Muslim Brotherhood, was founded in Egypt in 1928, before there was an Israel and before US intervention in Iran of which you speak.

    It was the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WW I that set the stage for the Brotherhood. It was the oil in Saudi Arabia which resulted in massive funding of Brotherhood-type endeavors and homegrown Wahhabi ideology across the Muslim world in the decades after WW II. It was the fall of the Soviets that created multiple vacuums allowing further flourishing of such radicalism.

    As for the Shah, he was doing exactly what you radical secularists want — he was banning the wearing of religious garb in public. That’s the French model you lefties love. That played a big role in inflaming Muslims and fueling Khoumeini’s rise.

  • Jack

    Thanks RNS for deleting my reply…..really appreciate it.

  • Jack

    Let me try to reconstruct (thanks again, RNS): It’s cowardly, Max, to blame America and Israel for the Iranian Revolution and the rise of Islamist extremism. The rise began after WW I, with the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. It continued with Saudi oil money being used to spread a similar Wahhabi ideology across the Muslim world. The fall of the Soviets created more opportunity for the extremists.

    As for the Shah, it was your radical secularist policies that he pursued — banning religious garb like Ataturk had done decades earlier in Turkey. But while Ataturk’s timing was lucky, the Shah’s couldn’t have been poorer: It came when radical Islamism was on the march….and when Sunni radicals were successfully passing along their extremist ideology to certain Shi’a clerics like Khoumeini.

  • Larry

    Jack, your ignorance of the situation is fairly obvious.

    You are not describing Iran at all.

    Iran (Persia) was a client state of the British during WWI. It was not part of the Ottoman Empire and therefore not directly affected by the Versailles Treaty like the rest of the Middle East. Persia was a crumbling absolute monarchy. By WWII, the British forced a change in monarchs and installed the Pahlavi (The last Shah of Iran).

    By the 1950’s political reform had taken hold and Mohammad Mosaddegh, took the reins as Prime Minister by election. Mosaddegh, a social reformer and nationalist cancelled the British oil concessions. The US and British engineered a coup to remove Mosaddegh and re-install the Shah.

    Had the Shah and his repressive government not been installed and elected leaders been in power, the Islamicist revolution would not have gained so much traction by the 1970’s.

    You really should learn about a subject instead of…

  • Jack,

    Where did I blame the rise of Islamic fundamentalism on the USA?
    You give in to your prejudices very quickly.

    Countries often over-react to an attack on them and unleash forces which are self-destructive. That is what Iran did after we shoved a murderous dictator onto their lives!

    America’s reaction to the attack on 9/11 is a perfect example of executive excess – attacking Al Queda was correct – but the conflation to attack Saddam Hussein was self-destructive excess!

    And the ironies are not lost on this region with long memories!
    We installed the Shah who killed thousands of innocents & propped up Saddam who killed thousands of innocents – yet changed our minds after 9/11!

    America is a bully in the region because we need 3 billion barrels of oil every day.

    Religion has been nothing but a nuisance – a wild card – in the search for practical solutions to any of these human problems.

  • @Larry,

    “The US and British engineered a coup to remove Mosaddegh and re-install the Shah.

    Larry, yes – that is what I was referring to.
    Correct (again).

  • @Jack,

    “The Shah was doing exactly what you…secularists want..banning..”

    I do not support banning of any religious expression! Banning religion is uncivilized. Banning religious expression is uncivilized.

    I also fully support blasphemy as free speech. I object to banning of blasphemy.

    It is only the religious who support banning things – the Shah was an American-installed puppet regime and his fascism against Islamic expressions were a direct reflection of the American desire to increase JUDEO-CHRISTIAN influences in Iran for foreign policy purposes.

    To say this CHRISTIANIZING plan for Iran backfired on America would be the mother of understatements!

  • Jack

    Larry, didn’t I once suggest you enroll in a reading comprehension course? Well, you should’ve done it.

    I never tied Iran to the Ottoman Empire….I was discussing the origins of modern radical pan-Islamism beyond Iran.

    And I know all about the coup in 1953 that brought in the Shah.

    Nor I am not denying that the Shah’s policies helped Khoumeini and his radical Islamist movement take power. His banning of religious garb, in which he took a page out of Ataturk’s policy book in Turkey decades before, certainly fueled resentment and opened the door to Khoumeini.

    But…..there never would have been a Khoumeini were there not a radical Islamist movement formed, decades before, elsewhere in the Middle East.

    It was that radical Islamist movement which turned Khoumeini from being just another Muslim cleric into a radicalized leader seeking total political power.

    If you want to continue this, great, but you’re going to look silly when we’re done.

  • Jack

    Israel knows no such thing. As anyone can see, Israel is deeply worried and rightly so.

  • Jack

    No, Max, America is not “a bully in the region.” You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    The biggest development in the 20th century Middle East was the rising nexus between oil and radical Islamist extremism.

  • Jack,

    “No Max, America is not a ‘bully in the region’…”

    So close….You are almost there…
    Who has been the biggest purchaser of oil in the middle east since 1940?
    Which outside power has had the most influence on the Middle East since 1947?
    Which outside power has bought and paid for all the governments of the region which exist in the Middle East today?

  • Larry

    In your effort to show Max up, you revealed to know absolutely nothing about what he was discussing or general knowledge of the region involved.

    “And I know all about the coup in 1953 that brought in the Shah. ”

    But refused to consider its importance. All in an effort to make ridiculous points about “radical secularists”. (Secularism is one of many terms you throw about casually but don’t really understand its meaning)

    “I never tied Iran to the Ottoman Empire”

    Liar. You tried lamely to tie their Islamicism to it.

    “It was the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of WW I that set the stage for the Brotherhood…”
    Somehow I doubt you done compounding your prior ignorance with current spin control and lies.

  • Larry

    So what happened to their threatened air strikes against Iran about 2-3 years ago? Absolutely nothing. If they were that worried, why such reluctance to act?

    US pressure has never been useful in restraining Israel before when it came to existential threats. Do you really think the US would condemn Israel for such actions in a credible manner? Not one bit.