The interventionist 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston famously said that "Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests."
He was half right.
Jon Stewart's Rosewater -- coinciding as it does with the urgent need for America and Iran to mend relations on all levels -- reminded me of a wise old friend who clued me in years back: "The only constant is change."
Whether or not the movie makers set out to show us the larger context, they go far beyond Iranian authorities' abusive treatment of the British-Iranian reporter.
Starkly present in the movie is the vivid 60+ year backstory of American direct interventions, intrusions and manipulations in Iran. In 1953 the US Central Intelligence Agency orchestrated the coup that overthrew Iran's democratically elected Prime Minister. In the P.M.'s place, we installed Shah Reza Pahlavi, a puppet of Big Oil. Backed by the U.S. Government the Shah ruled as an absolute monarch until his overthrow in 1979, when the current government took control. Savak, the Shah's secret police, was the natural parent of Iran's current human rights abuses.
Unlike Iran, Israel has been supported by America from day one at great economic and political expense to US. Israel's aggressive intervention in American political discourse (e.g., AIPAC and Netanyahu's recent speech to Congress) is as understandable as it is unwelcome. Ultimately it is destructive for all parties. Israel is so intent on being the sole nuclear power in the Middle East that as negotiations proceeded to reduce Iran's nuclear options, Israel spied on its principal benefactor -- America -- and turned what they found over to Congressional Republicans as fodder for reactionary propaganda.
Fortunately, diplomacy is at work as we continue to negotiate with Iran on the clearly vital issue of eliminating nuclear weapons from the Middle East rather than adding to Israel's stash. Arguably, America's interests are best served by initiating negotiations to remove Israel's actual nuclear weapons along with Iran's presumed efforts to obtain them.
Though too often misinformed and misguided, America's deep engagement in the Middle East may, just possibly, have a positive effect, or at least begin to remediate some of the damage we've caused. Our missteps are often consequent to improper influence by special interests, specifically oil and Israel. Oil and Israel have effectively controlled America's policy toward the Middle East (Jews, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, Samaritans et al, etc.) for more than half a century. Is that in America's best interests?
All people are created equal. All people are chosen. Everything changes, even nations' interests.
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