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December 12, 2010

For the attention of President Barack H. Obama The White House, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. CC: The U.S. Secretary of State

Dear President Obama, There are two reasons that I, as an Iranian political activist, am writing to you today. One reason is the commemoration of the U.S. rescue of part of Iran from annexation by the Soviet Union in 1946, and the other is the current official action of the United States Navy under your command, in renaming the Persian Gulf for the sake of satisfying the egotistic preference of sheiks hosting the American fleet in the Persian Gulf. The Navy’s behavior goes against what America professes, namely truth and justice, and will not serve long-term American interests in the region. This surprising action has severely hurt the dignity and national pride of the Iranian people all over the world, and shaken their faith in the American values you aim to promote. The official Navy policy of using an artificial name, instead of the historical name Persian Gulf—declared by the United Nations long ago—may be signaling a dramatic shift of U.S. policy away from long-term interests with Iran, for the sake of immediate political or economic expediency. We understand that the wealth of Arab sheiks is an important injection into the ailing American economy you are trying to cure; but these sheiks traditionally transfer their God-given wealth to the U.S. and other Western countries anyway. It is they who have to court you for giving them protection against accountability to their people, not the other way around. We also understand that the Administration is trying to become darling to the small Arab states of the Persian Gulf, as they are a potential bastion against the Islamic Republic; but this does not have to be at the expense of losing Iran as a future ally, or at the moral cost of participating in the disintegration of Iran. A long-term view of the peninsula tells me that all these states, Saudi Arabia included, will be experiencing extreme social instability and political turmoil within the next two decades. Oppressed people of these states will rise for their human and political rights, and America will be blamed. Do not burn bridges with the future Iran, for if we make it through our own challenging time, we will join you in promoting human rights and true democracy in the region. While the rhetoric of your administration—after a year of unfruitful appeasement of the Islamic Republic—is now, though timidly, aimed against them, condoning this symbolic and profound name change by the Navy can only be 1


construed as an undeclared war on the people of Iran, on our national sovereignty, and on our hopes for a return to a respectable role in the world community. The people of Iran, who have been frustrated by your courtship of the Islamic Republic during your first year in office, called upon you during demonstrations last year: “Obama, either with them or with us.” We understood your cautious response, but you are now facing a bigger challenge to the opinion of tens of millions of Iranians— the naked truth that is now revealing itself about White House policy on Iran. These are sensitive times for the Iranian people, who are suffering from extreme conditions of oppressive dictatorship, official violence and government corruption. When you so respectfully and supportively spoke to the people of Iran, praising their rich culture and acknowledging their proud history, they believed you. The Iranian people wish to be able to believe in you for what you say, what you believe in, and what we might do together, someday soon. The signs from Washington, however, are not so promising. Some people now think they are being double-crossed. My own view is that there is simply instability and indecision in U.S. policy toward Iran, a lack of directional uniformity between the administration and other policy makers, and thus oscillation from one stance to another. America and Iran have been friends and often allies since the 18th century, a love affair that you are educated enough to know ended in a series of policy mistakes during the advent of cold war. In 1942, upon occupation of Iran by allied forces, the reigning Iranian monarch was ousted by the British. President Roosevelt insisted on the continuation of monarchy and we lost the chance of establishing a republic. On the positive side, President Roosevelt also insisted on and guaranteed Iranian sovereignty by requiring all invading armies to vacate the country after the war. He transformed his wish into a declaration signed by all parties concerned. He was a strong, prudent, and farsighted president and meant what he said. Another positive point in U.S.-Iran relations was when President Truman forced the Soviet Union to leave the part of Iran they had occupied, by threatening the atom-bombing of Moscow. In 1952, he supported Iranian nationalization of the oil industry and later opposed the British plan of ousting the only democratic government Iran ever had. He was a man of strong convictions, and meant what he said. Iranians remember these men. The love affair between Iran and America continued until 1953, when President Eisenhower showed little resistance to persistent British interest in toppling our popular government. He was a weak president in this matter, and not farsighted at all. From there, I’m sure you know that everything went downhill. In 1979, once again the U.S. acted out a plan largely prepared by other powers, and created the


situation we are in today. We have always suffered from weak presidency in the White House, and we remember our history, Mr. President. The American assistance of Iraq during their war against Iran showed a shortsighted revenge-type policy. America again played into a British plan, that of “the two lions must be made to destroy each other.� This gave us the impression that the White House, despite its unmatched physical power, has only an illusion of grandeur about its world affairs management and strategic planning politics. The current and continuing debates and actions regarding Iran, by the U.S. policy-making bodies and the Administration show unusual disarray and indecision. While your policy makers are having ears bent to every lobby and advisor, other power players are writing the scenario and setting the stage for the U.S. to play out its role. What we see from afar is a situation that the U.S. should not fall into. Iraq and Afghanistan have been proof that American efforts would have been more effective if its friends played honest hands. From a distance, it looks as though the White House, although it has good intentions, is unsure and asking to be led. It listens to too many advisors of questionable inclinations and loyalties. It is not able to observe and control its friends and allies with effective intelligence. It relies on multiple loyalty multiple purposed and sometimes self-serving intelligence for policy making. This action by the U.S. Navy, which belligerently ignores historical truths and official U.S. and U.N. directives, just to serve the childish egos of some selfappointed tribal rulers in the Persian Gulf is a sign of weakness in the American administration (provided we assume the action was not approved by the Commander-in-Chief.) We ask ourselves if this is an undermining of official policy or if the American president speaks to the Iranian people with a forked tongue. What is surprising to us is that you, President Obama, of all people, have developed a sympathetic ear to the radical political groups, domestic and foreign, advocating disintegration of Iran. Disintegration of Iran, just as wise presidents Roosevelt and Truman understood, would not serve American long-term interests. One immediate outcome would be decades of instability and bloodshed in the region. Undoubtedly, some new state or two will fall into the hands of radical religious groups, or they will provide sanctuary and bases for planning terrorist attacks on their neighbors and on the West. Unrest and domestic armed conflict worse than anything experienced in Turkey, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Central Asia will prevent any productive relationship with the West. The bloodshed in Yugoslavia will be dwarfed by what will happen here and you, Mr. President, will be responsible for all that suffering, and for crimes against humanity that can only be imagined. Ask yourself, do you want those many millions in Iran who want a stable and just democracy, and the many millions residing in exile, with their knowledge and expertise and deep passion for freedom, to be on your side and have faith and trust in America or have the worst imaginable human catastrophe on your conscience? 3


Also, think of the converging strategic situation in the region. Think of huge China with its economy soon larger than that of the U.S., and the military might to reckon with advancing on little countries in its path westward. Think of India thirty to fifty years from now, powerful and hungry for resources. They will leave no room for the U.S. and Europe and they will not have the strong, proud, and culturally influential Iran in their paths. Think of their forcing terrorists to move west. Think of Russia regaining self-confidence and joining interests with China, or China with India. No powerful country will exist to stand in the way as a buffer through economic and technological might. Turkey, Iraq, and Caucasus will witness increased tension and will be ripe for civil wars in a not so distant future. If fire starts here in Iran, Mr. President, the smoke will pollute the air all the way to Washington. We acknowledge that you are a wise and very knowledgeable man, the brainiest president since John Kennedy; but we sometimes fall to our own intellectual sense in lieu of being diligent, and keep looking up instead of looking down to the earth. You received the Nobel Prize not for the peace you had brought on, but for the peace that is expected you will cause. Are you going to? The current policy path toward Iran and the region does not spell peace. Your problems in Afghanistan and Iraq will multiply if Iran is not kept united, and made strong and democratic. A nation in turmoil will be of no use to America, much less to its own people and to the region. Guess what such policy will do to your own legacy as the potentially historic leader who, brilliant as he was, dragged a region strategically vital to American interests and the stability of the world into more bloodshed, irreparable chaos, and deeper hatred of the U.S. If you have spoken with honesty to my people, which I truly believe you have intended to, then it seems that you cannot control those under your command to respect official policies. If this is the case, then you will continue to lose the world’s faith that you can execute the promises and policies you announce. The people of Iran are aware of history, distrust rhetoric, and respect commitment. As a first step we expect you to renounce and reverse the U.S. Navy’s disrespectful action, as a sign that America respects those who yearn to breathe free, and can be trusted. Beautiful speeches have a short shelf life. Respectfully, Kourosh Zaim Member, Central Council Iran National front kourosh_Zaim@yahoo.com

letter to Obama  

letter by Kourosh Zaim to president Obama

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