Senator McCain's recent remarks on Iran at a panel discussions (I.T. 9 - 10 February) in which he expressed concern over the Iranians ambition, "which are as old as history: a Persian domination of the region" was to me heart breaking. Such remarks could have conveyed an ambiguous message in these crucial days to the American people. His remarks are also disappointing to the majority of the Iranians as to the senator's knowledge and understanding of Iran's history, past and contemporary.
By assuming the fact that the aspirations of all nations, including those of the Iranians do not change with the going and the coming of an administration or regime, I do not recall any historian has recorded "as old as history" an ambition of the domination of the region by the Persians.
Having had the privilege of working closely from 1959 to 1979 with seven American Presidents from both parties, with all of whom I am proud to say I had most cordial friendships, I never came across a similar remark by any of them that my country at any time in its more than two and half thousand years of proud history and peaceful co- existence had an eye on the neighboring territories or indeed the ambition of dominating them. On the contrary, it was Iran that throughout the same period of her existence had been invaded by foreign adventurers, beginning by Alexander the Great in 335 B.C , the Arabs in 633-656, the Mongols in the 13 Century, the Afghans and the Russians in the 18th and 19 centuries - up to the last occupations of a neutral and defenseless Iran by the British and Russian armies during the first and second world wars.
In fact throughout post Second World War era and up to 1979 the emergence and existence of a powerful Iran was the core of the US policy under various administrations, both the Republican and Democrat, as a vital source of maintaining peace and stability of the Middle East and Western Asia. The 1979 revolution in Iran may temporarily have had certain adverse consequences on the balance of such Iranian factor of stability, but surely it has no origin in the alleged historical ambition.
Having had the bitter experience of the past invasions from east and west, north and south of the globe, the sole choice for the Iranians to deter the would be aggressors had been and is to become powerful enough to defend their land, dignity, integrity and sovereignty. This was last proved in the 1980s invasion of southern Iran by Saddam's Iraqi army; notwithstanding the generous support provided by the west and the east as well certain regional oil rich nations to the dictator of Baghdad.
Astonishingly, the distinguished Senator's remarks were made at a gathering well familiar with the Persian history; the least with the Cyrus the Great first Declaration of the Human Rights and his treatment of the Jews in Babylon, paving their return to the Promised Land.
Ironically, your paper in reporting Senator McCain's lecture on the Persian history, noted side by side a dispatch from Tehran back precisely 100 years ago; in February 1908 in its "In Our Pages" column: "of the sitting of the (Persian) National Assembly as a very stormy one due to further entry of Russian Cossacks in the Persian territory of Azarbyjan" on a pretext that need no amplification!
Villa les Roses
13 February 2008
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