Iran: Land of Intrigue
In June 2004, I had the unique opportunity to visit ancient Persia—what is now known as Iran. While I was on vacation and technically not working (I’ve spent my career advocating for freedom and democracy at home and abroad), I was still eager to see how the politics of that country worked.
Iran was what one might expect—wonderful people who prioritize education above all else, gorgeous architecture, beautiful bazaars filled with countless rugs, and a throw-back to a simpler time. What was missing were tourists, a thriving economy, and progress.
Make no mistake of it, Iran was—and is—a dictatorship. At the time, things had eased up a tiny bit. Women were required to wear a headscarf and long sleeves, but that headscarf could be sitting far back on your head and your sleeves could be ¾ length. Citizen weren’t free, but they were inching—very slowly—gaining more freedom.
That ended abruptly. A week after we left, there was a government crackdown. Headscarves were to be tightly worn at the hairline—no exceptions—and sleeves should cover their wrists, lest they be hauled off by the morality police (that’s a real and frightening thing!). These are small, everyday examples of how governments can control their citizens in a theocracy.
America’s agreement with Iran turns one-year-old this week. And there’s a lot to be proud of. The Agreement is working. Capable nuclear inspectors have been on the ground around-the-clock to ensure that materials that could make a nuclear bomb are removed. According to a military expert I spoke with just yesterday, enough material has been removed that there is so little, there is not enough to make a bomb.
We need to continue to ensure that Iran lives up to this agreement and that they are brought into the community of nations to continue to work toward diplomatic solutions.
At the same time, we will continue to stand with Israel and work toward security advances that make us all safer.
America is strongest when we use all the tools at our disposal—the military, diplomacy, democracy, and international institutions. We are weakest when we try to use a one-size-fits-all model.
Relations between the United States and Iran will continue to be challenging. However, we must forge ahead knowing that by doing so we are supporting citizens who are yearning to be free.