Former American Embassy in Iran Attracts Pride and Dust – NYTimes.com

A symbol of the past US/Iranian impasses in relations, but maybe an institutionalization that could lead to a warmer future?

“Before that moment, it was the U.S. who dictated the history of nations,” said Mohammad Reza Soghigi, who guided the foreign reporters visiting the site. “After the takeover, it was Iran that dictated the history of the U.S.”

For Iranian hard-liners, the embassy compound is a symbol of the lasting power of the Islamic Revolution. But the atmosphere in Tehran has shifted since the reformist Hassan Rouhani replaced his hard-line predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the country’s president. For many here, the embassy is a relic that is long past its sell-by date.

“All this stuff is old,” said Mehdi Zohari, a 31-year-old electrician and Basiji. “Maybe it’s time we forgot about all of this.”

via Former American Embassy in Iran Attracts Pride and Dust – NYTimes.com.

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8 thoughts on “Former American Embassy in Iran Attracts Pride and Dust – NYTimes.com

  1. trawson7 says:

    This too is an interesting article; US-Iranian relations have definitely changed since 1979, and they have been hostile at best. I cannot help but be defensive about the comments this article makes about the United States though. There are some definite inequalities and imperfections in this country, but I still wouldn’t rather live anywhere else in the world. The United States is still the greatest country on the earth, in my opinion. However, it is also important to note that lots of other countries are rising to become technological, industrial, etc. powerhouses; it is not longer just the United States. In that respect, you could argue we’re declining.

    After reading this article, I cannot help but wonder how the situation with the old American embassy building in Tehran will change now that Iran and the United States are trying to be diplomatic with each other. Perhaps Zohari is right: “Maybe it’s time we forgot about all of this.”

  2. I think it’s overly optimistic to believe that Iran or the US will be able to “forget about all of this.” Putting aside the question of Iran’s President, we must deal with the influence of the more powerful Ayatollah. Keeping in mind that the Ayatollah is the spiritual leader of the country, I do not think that he will be quick to let go of what many perceive to be the victory of an Islamic state over an infidelic Western one. To let go of that would be a major concession of power, and for that reason I believe that forgetting about the overthrow of the embassy and all the political and social implications thereof is a distant dream.
    Furthermore, I think it’s a little too soon to label Rouhani as a reformist. He has made some comments that seem promising, yet, in my opinion, there have not been enough actions on his part to warrant this label. I hold out hope that US-Iranian relations will thaw, but I also think talk is cheap. I’m waiting to see a handshake.

  3. oliviaronna says:

    Yeah, we need to remember that the Ayatollah has the biggest influence, and so, even with Rouhani, the politics of Iran are not likely to forget the struggling relationship between our two countries. I thought that it was interesting that this article quoted an Iranian who compared the face of Lady Liberty to Satan. With this kind of attitude, it will be hard for everyone to just forget all about the past tensions. I am curious to see what kind of influence Rouhani can have now that he is president-whether his intentions could actually be in the US’s favor and how he will work with the Ayatollah.

  4. I liked that the article described interactions with three distinct personalities, two Iraqis and a sympathetic foreigner. The idea of “forgetting all of this” is impossible on the grand scheme, but if relations thaw a little more, changing the building, or at least the purpose of the building (which seems to be a propaganda tool) would be a positive move. I found it especially interesting that the Iraqi who proposed forgetting about the deep antagonism between the countries “would like to emigrate to the United States.” As negatively as the United States is portrayed, there is still some desire to come here. Clearly there is still good told among the bad, probably good truths told alongside bad truths told alongside good lies and bad lies.

  5. I think this article reflects some of the strong negative feelings that still prevail in Iran against the US, given the nations’ rivalrous history. While it is no surprise that the general Iranian population continues to view the US as a foe, it will be interesting to see the implications of such antagonism on the renewed attempts at diplomatic relations that Rouhani and Obama are seeking to establish. True, the need for a lifting of sanctions in Iran is an important factor towards their economic progress, but that does not necessarily mean that a hatred towards the West, which clearly runs deep, will dissipate anytime soon in the region.
    Such feelings demonstrated in this article raise the question of how much of their country’s foreign policy does the people in Iran understand or agree with, and is the majority of them truly hoping for a reconciliation between Middle East and West? Perhaps more realistically, how much does the opinion of the general population really matter?
    Whether Rouhani means everything that he has said, or whether US-Iranian relations will substantively improve, I still think that paving the way for open communication and seeking to create a friendlier future is the best course to pursue at this time. Let the dusty American Embassy in Iran stands as a symbol of the past. Let us look forward to a more positive future.

  6. araujophm says:

    The issue with Iran is an issue of trust. While Americans can’t decide whether to trust Iranians or not, the same feeling is influencing those in the other side of the world. I don’t know if there will be a time where the U.S. and Iran can just go back to having the same relations as they did in the past, but I do think that efforts must be made by both sides to come to an agreement that would mutually benefit both countries. It will be interesting to see over the next few months what will be done by the administration of both countries in order to re-solidify the relationship between these two nations.

  7. mckaycorbett says:

    I think this article articulates the attitude that both Iranians and Americans alike have towards future relations between the two countries. Especially the ending with the Iranian saying he doesn’t think the Americans will ever return because too much has happened. It seems that while there are many extreme Iranians who hate the US and see it as the enemy there are still some who wonder if it would be better to make peace. With the election of there moderate President it seems that this is becoming more popular. But I agree with the Iranian. Too much has happened for the Americans to return to Iran with an ambassador. I don’t know if that will ever happen but if it does, there are many other things that have to come before. Starting with the nuclear situation.

  8. jbs4395 says:

    I really liked the insights of the above comments, especially from trawson7 and johndgriffith. While I agree that the efforts of both the United States and Iran to reach diplomacy should be encouraged and never given up on, I think tension will always remain between the two nations. While presidents may come and go in both the US and Iran, the Ayatollah remains, and his influence is greater than any president’s in Iran. But that has me thinking: what do we have? What is our “Ayatollah?” DO we have an Ayatollah of sorts? Is it the Constitution? Is it the idea of America? Is it the cause of freedom? It has occurred to me that if we can pinpoint this – if we can identify the guiding force of our nation – perhaps we can essentially rise again in our power and influence for the better. This article speaks of the United States as though it is just another political power to fade away into the ash heap of history. Such is not so, and such need not be so if Americans can unite together to find that guiding light of our nation – the transcendent core values of our nation. I believe that in doing so, we will with greater clarity be able to see our place in the world as a force for peace and freedom. With such a vision, we will be more effectively able to actually create peace and in our associations with other nations while being true to our ideals

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