Friday, December 02, 2005

Nicholas Burns: Americans share the Iranian people's vision for a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Iran

R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, gave a speech titled "U.S. Policy Toward Iran" at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in washington, D.C. on Wednesday, November 30. Here are the highlights of the speech :

The United States and Iran: A Complicated History

...A quarter of a century ago, the Iranian revolution unseated a close U.S. ally in the Shah. After his fall, we nonetheless attempted to engage with Iran's new Islamic leadership. The forces that had come together in the revolution were diverse but united in their goal of overthrowing the Shah. As in most revolutions, however, they lacked unity when it came time to create a new way forward and a new government. The result was a disastrous and bloody struggle for power that ultimately stifled the Iranian people's quest for greater freedom and democracy.

By seizing the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and holding American diplomats hostage, Iran's hard-liners commandeered the new Iranian state and stripped away the very democratic rights which many Iranians had sought. Those who stood for Iran's democratic future were suppressed. The country's international standing was shattered, as was its long relationship with Washington. Thus began a new era of complex and troubled relations between Tehran and Washington, characterized by direct Iranian support for Lebanese Hezbollah's terrorism against the United States, beginning in the early 1980s.