Mark Bowden has written a lengthy though easy to read book on the Iranian hostage crisis entitled Guests of the Ayatollah. It is with the respect of the memory of the Iranian hostage crisis that I ask the question: Should the United States normalize relations with Iran and accept the theocracy there as the legitimate form of government?
Leaders in the United States face a tough quandary because Iran has provided assistance to Hezbollah and Hamas organizations that the United States has branded terrorist organizations and then there’s the further issue of the last disputed presidential elections that led to days and weeks of large scale protests that needed to be beaten back by security forces loyal to the governing ayatollahs.
Then there is the matter of the 1979 takeover of the United States embassy in Tehran. Any embassy throughout the world is considered territory of the state who occupies said embassy, so in occupying the U.S embassy, Iran in effect invaded America and held our citizens hostage.
None of these incidents should ever be forgotten, especially since we are still dealing with first and second generation revolutionaries in Iran. But today we conduct foreign relations with states that would’ve been unconscionable thirty years ago.
Russia as part of the Soviet Union engaged in large scale spying and espionage and we almost had a nuclear disaster over the Cubin Missile Crisis. China keeps sending us cheaply produced, lead paint coated, hazardous goods that kill our children and pets and we’re still friendly with them. Up until his very last breaths in power, we were friends with Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and are often game to support any general in Pakistan as long as he’s not a radical Islamist. My point being that we’ve given shadowy characters this basic respect before, why not Iran?
Several countries mentioned above have killed American citizens and they still get diplomatic recognition. Such recognition may actually prove to be a benefit to the United States. At last report, the United States was receiving word on our two detained hikers through the Swiss embassy. Maybe if we had diplomatic ties, we could be pressuring towards their release. Diplomatic recognition could also be helping on other issues like the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. Recognition could make the United States more forceful within the six party talk structure the nuclear program talks demand.