Thirty years ago an international drama played out that would eventually take down an American president, ushering in a conservative titan that changed the Republican party forever and who was in large part responsible, another thirty years later, for a financial crash in which we're still trying to dig our way out of. The current mood of the American electorate tells us we have not yet done so. But that isn't the only ramification of what happened.
Obama released this statement (what's in bold is the salient section):
Thirty years ago today, the American Embassy in Tehran was seized. The 444 days that began on November 4, 1979 deeply affected the lives of courageous Americans who were unjustly held hostage, and we owe these Americans and their families our gratitude for their extraordinary service and sacrifice.
This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation. I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We do not interfere in Iran's internal affairs. We have condemned terrorist attacks against Iran. We have recognized Iran's international right to peaceful nuclear power. We have demonstrated our willingness to take confidence-building steps along with others in the international community. We have accepted a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet Iran's request for assistance in meeting the medical needs of its people. We have made clear that if Iran lives up to the obligations that every nation has, it will have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community.
Iran must choose. We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for. The American people have great respect for the people of Iran and their rich history. The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights. It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.
The outcome of the revolution was varied (it's not Jimmy Carter's favorite memory), but it certainly gave some in this country a suspicion of all things Iranian, including those trying to bridge the divide caused by zealots. During J Street, Michael Goldfarb's attack against Trita Parsi, someone I have interacted with and heard through conference calls, accused him of being "Iran's man in DC." The right is always willing to defame someone for suggesting a relationship with the Iranians would be good for this country and our national security, and maybe even Israel's. Blasphemy! The Goldfarbs of the world, including Jeffrey Goldberg, are evidently not getting how the Iranians helped us in Afghanistan after 9/11, and how they could again. For the right, no dialogue is their strategy, no matter the cost. All of this coming out of what happened 30 years ago, as the right builds on suspicion that long ago quit doing anyone any good.