If Attacked, Iranians Would Stand Behind their Government


After spending two weeks in Iran, I learned a number of things about the
peoples’ perspective on their government, foreign policy and the United States.
Most of the people I interviewed revealed that they were not pleased with their
religious rulers or the laws they passed. Even ultra religious Iranians feared
that the form of imposed Islamic rule was causing some Iranians to reject Islam
in defiance.

Nevertheless, all agreed that they would quickly stand behind their government
if Iran was attacked by an outside force -- even if assaulted by the country
that, on a personal level at least, they greatly admire, the United States.

In the early days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iranians were thrilled to
see the downfall of Saddam Hussein, the dictator who had vexed Iran from his
deal with the Shah to exile Ayatollah Khomeini, to the eight year
Iran-Iraq war that cost Iran hundreds of thousands of lives.

As the 2003 battle evolved into a chaotic quagmire, though, Iranians lost
confidence in the United States.  In fact, America is now seen as the force
that is responsible for the suffering of the Iraqi people rather than their
liberator. No one wants to see Iran suffer the same fate.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a modern, developed country with an educated and
open-minded population. They enthusiastically circulate American movies and
adopt American culture. After 9/11, vast numbers of Iranians even gathered in
squares carrying candles in sympathy for the victims. But any rash move on our
part would quickly turn the people against us.