Understanding the past can help us use wisdom in navigating our futures—this is true in our personal lives, and in navigating conflict on a global scale. It’s also true in seeking to improve US-Iran relations so that both countries can work towards building a better future.
The Coup of 1953
Much discontent and distrust from Iranians towards Americans and the British began with this political plot twist to Iranian democracy. The 1953 coup of Iran led to a democratically elected prime minister by the name of Mohammed Mossadegh being ousted from power, and a monarch being propped up by western power and interest and clerics like Ayatollah Kashani, to take his place. The prioritization of oil assets over democratic rule by The United States in this situation planted seeds that have grown into a great divide over time.
The Revolution of 1979
The United States had previously signed a nuclear deal with Iran to help them cultivate a nuclear energy program for their country. A revolution rose up to prevent these goals—led by those against the monarchy, including nationalists and leftist groups. Anyone who’s heard of the 444-day US embassy hostage crisis in Iran is thinking of this particular political uprising. This revolution for democratic rule was unfortunately hijacked by Islamists, and the chaos redirected into a direction that many behind it did not intend.
Building Tensions, and the “Axis of Evil”
The intended nuclear deal of the 1950s continued to be prolonged up through the Bush, Jr. administration. There was the Beirut Bombing incident, in which a US war ship shot down an Iranian passenger airline and killed 290 people on board—and Iranian regime skeptics of America and its politics saw this as a sign of mistrust and ill will from the American government. Whenever George W Bush made his televised declaration against the “axis of evil” through military might, including North Korea, Iraq and Iran, the move further presented a wedge in diplomacy between the United States and Iranian leadership.
A Turning Tide?
The distance has been generally maintained between US-Iranian relations. President Obama’s wrong judgment of a “moderate” President Hassan Rouhani has never ended up with an openness between the two countries, and remains the same as it has been under last four US administrations.