Saturday, March 21, 2009


I have complaints against The Washington Post for its headline on a story by Ali Akbar Dareini about Ayatollay Khamanei's response to Barack Obama's video message. The WashPo's headline is," Iran's supreme leader dismisses Obama overtures."

I attribute this headline to bias and prejudice of the editors at WashPo against Iran and Iranian leaders. Tell the world that Iran is not willing to compromise or engage in serious negotiation and diplomacy. This sets the world (and Americans) up for an attack against Iran. First demonize Iranians, this makes it easier to justify bombing and killing them.

But read the article by Dareini carefully:

"Khamenei enumerated a long list of Iranian grievances against the United States over the past 30 years and said the U.S. was still interfering in Iranian affairs.

"He mentioned U.S. sanctions against Iran, U.S. support for Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his 1980-88 war against Iran and the downing of an Iranian airliner over the Persian Gulf in 1988.

"He also accused the U.S. of provoking ethnic tension in Iran and said Washington's accusations that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons are a sign of U.S. hostility. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, like energy production, not for building weapons.

"Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials? Have you given up your unconditional support for the Zionist regime? Even the language remains unchanged," Khamenei said.

"Khamenei, wearing a black turban and dark robes, said America was hated around the world for its arrogance, as the crowd chanted "Death to America."

"Prominent political analyst Saeed Leilaz said Khamenei's comments did not amount to a rejection of better ties with the Obama administration. Rather, Iran's current hard-line leaders need to publicly maintain some degree of anti-U.S. rhetoric to bolster their own position, especially with their conservative base, he said."

Khamenei and Iranians have legitimate grievances against the U.S. Remember it was Eisenhower and the U.S. that toppled an Iranian elected government in 1953 because of desires to take control over Iranian oil production. So the C.I.A. overthrew Mossadegh and replaced him with the Shah. Iranians have not forgotten or forgiven Americans for doing this. Furthermore, it was the U.S. Navy that shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988, killing dozens of Iranians.

Khamenie wants the U.S. to apologize and this is what Obama should do next. Americans can't expect Iranians and their leaders simply to forget about the downing of the Iranian airliner and the overthrow of an Iranian democratic government without having the U.S. admit that it was wrong on these and other actions aimed against Iran.

The WashPo is wrong to run the headline that Iran dismisses Obama's message. This is only the first step for both the U.S. and Iran. But Obama's message is a first step in the right direction, and Khamenei's response does not dismiss but really points forward to the direction that rapprochement requires.

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