Etemad a daily newspaper of the reformist camp published an interview last week with John Limbert one of the political officers of the American Embassy who was held hostage by the revolutionary students in 1979 a few months after the Islamic Revolution. Limbert stressed that he believed relations between the two countries were unhealthy after the 1953 Coup d'etat against the nationalist priminister Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh.
He said he believed that in addition to the foreign factor there were other elements that provided support for the Shah's dictatorial regime but circumstances were such that everyone thought the regime relied only on the US for its existence. He pointed to a reality and an image and said that in the takeover of the American embassy the Iranians saw the image. He acknowledged that granting entrance to the US for the deposed Shah was a strategic mistake.
Paul Newsom a former deputy Secretary of State also had mentioned the fact that he and even President Carter initially opposed the idea but gave in to the pressures by David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger (More about this at New York Times).
Limbert regrets the fact that relations between the two countries have been in a deadlock and attempts to improve them were always thwarted by parties who do not want to see this happening.He said he believed there were many reasons for the two countries to work together on the basis of their mutual interests.
I think this was a noteworthy interview and being published by a reformist newspaper I think it is an indication of the sensitive times we have ahead of us. Inspite of the harsh rhetoric that the neoconservative administration is using against Iran , I think there are many people within the system who believe in changing the approach. The neocons are not ready to relinquish their arrogant tone and policy vis a vis Iran. Bilateral negotiations for the future of Iraq, cooperation on issues like terrorism and narcotics , increased exchanges at the non governmental level are issues that should be promoted.
Constant threats and pressure for sanctions and regime change and adopting 75 million dollar bills to weaken Iran are futile tactics that only serve to increase security pressures leading to more difficult times for the civil society, independent social and political activists and independent media. In short it serves as a major impediment for democracy in Iran.