Saturday, November 20, 2004
Clueless in Iran
Nicholas Schmidle: Iran’s paradoxical views of America
Just beneath the veneer of avid pro-Americanism, the Iranian mind is crowded with a vivid sense of nationalism and memory of past American deeds. Kaveh, a doctoral student at Tehran University's faculty of law, illustrates the complexity of Iranian relations with the United States. One evening, Kaveh railed against the Islamic regime. "This government is not a 'national' government," he said. "They only care about their family, friends and their pockets." The next night, Kaveh knocked at my door and handed over a note. It explained that he thought my room was under surveillance and our conversations were being recorded. He wanted to resume our discussion "on tape," but this time, direct his diatribe toward the America government. It quickly became apparent to me that he was as passionate in his criticism of the U.S. as he was of his own government. "The United States is only looking to establish an economic and militaristic foothold in the region," he contended. "They want Iraq to be another Okinawa."