May 31, 2010

The Common Culture of Turkey, the United States, and Iran

The Common Culture of Turkey, the United States, and Iran

By David Swanson

I’d guess roughly 3% of the Americans who watch the new Disney movie Prince of Persia have any idea that Persia and Iran are the same place. A similar number are probably aware of Iranians’ demonstrations of sympathy following 9-11 and of Iran’s assistance to the United States in Afghanistan in 2001. But surely an even smaller percentage of Americans know that Iran, Turkey, and our own country all fought revolutions against British colonialism, and developed democracies, our own serving as an inspiration for the others, our nation serving as a friend and ally to them. And you could probably fit into one football stadium every American who knows that Turkey’s democratic advance succeeded where Iran’s failed, principally because Teddy Roosevelt’s grandson, working for the CIA, overthrew Iran’s elected leader and installed a dictator, whom the United States proceeded to support and arm for decades.

The people of Iran, despite everything our government has done, are fond of the United States, but I’m not sure the reverse can be said. The people of Turkey want to be partners with western nations, but is the feeling mutual? Any new book by Stephen Kinzer is always worth reading, and his latest is of critical importance. It’s called "Reset: Iran, Turkey, and America’s Future." In it, Kinzer argues for partnership and improved relations between the United States and the only two Muslim nations in the Middle East that have significant democratic traditions. And he argues for a reconsideration of the tightness of U.S. relations with two other countries in the region: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Continued. . .