[to see the prior articles in this series, hit “Countdown to attack on Iran” in the categories list in the right hand column]
Probably tomorrow, we’re gonna get to the proposed “neighbors’ meeting” in Iraq, which may see a meeting between Iranian and US officials.
But first we need some background on US-Iranian relations. Let me say at the outset that while I would love to visit Iran, I wouldn’t want to live there.
What most people know about Iran, they got from Ted Koppel, one of the most important men in world history. On his Nightline program, he essentially created the continuous news cycle, with its hunger for tidbits, back stories, shadowy rumors, and videos of chanting crowds. Every night the subtitle of his show, like the subtitle of my little series of essays, emphasized the time frame of the “Iran hostage crisis: Day 256…” Koppel’s pioneering business plan probably contributed greatly to the Iranian captors sense of self-importance, thus prolonging the crisis. But of equal importance was the fact that Koppel tapped into American feelings of frustration after Vietnam, drew them out, inflated them, and conflated them with the resentment toward the young captors of the American embassy in Tehran. Over the months, the theme of humiliation became a national cause of action, the primary determinant of the outcome of the presidential election in 1980, and the entire theme of “muscular” foreign policy, as if America were some skinny kid on the beach who got sand kicked on him.
Entirely lost in massive coverage of the 1979-80 hostage “crisis” was the history of US-Iranian relations over the previous 40 years: the long history of peaceful civilization in Iran, the history of massive US meddling in Iran in transparent attempts to gain control of oil, to the detriment of nascent democracy.
These are the facts of the case. And they are undisputed.
—-prosecutor Jack Ross/Kevin Bacon, A Few Good Men.
In the years after World War II, Iran evolved into a democracy, electing its first leader, Dr. Muhammed Mossadegh in 1951. However, when Mossadegh nationalized British petroleum, the Brits and the American CIA hatched a plot to call him a communist, which he certainly was not. But in 1953 British and American forces staged a military coup, overthrowing the democratically elected leader and installed the Shah. Not until 1979 were the Iranian people able to overthrow the Shah. They then voted overwhelmingly to form a theocratic democracy, headed by the Ayatollah Khomeini. It was at this time that Iranian students took over the US embassy, claiming that it was filled with CIA spies intent on bringing down the government (again). Not that it justified what they did, but they were probably correct. The Ayatollah Khomeini, however, was (an still is) represented in the media as the very imbodiment of evil, thanks in large part to Ted Koppel’s Nightline, who, as far as I can recollect, never bothered to tell the real story of US meddling in Iran. (it is perhaps notable that the Ayatollah’s unflagging somber/”evil” expression is actually a religious tradition, even a requirement, of Shiite religious leaders; see also al-Sadr in Iraq.)
After Reagan was elected, and the hostage crisis resolved, the United States then acted AGAIN to try and bring down the elected government of Iran by military means, again over oil, this time using Saddam Hussein and Iraq as its cat’s paw. The result was the Iraq-Iran War 1980-86, not to mention the gassing of the Kurds and the other war crimes of Saddam, and an overall massive increase in his military strength, which would later enable him to invade Kuwait.
Things did not go very well for Saddam initially, partly because, unbeknownst to the American public, and possibly to Reagan himself, the Reagan administration sold arms to our supposed mortal enemy:
The Iran-Contra Affair was the largest political scandal in the United States during the 1980s.  Large volumes of documents relating to the scandal were destroyed or withheld from investigators by Reagan Administration officials. The affair is still shrouded with secrecy and it is very hard to discover the facts. It involved several members of the Reagan Administration who in 1986 helped sell arms to Iran, an avowed enemy, and used the proceeds to fund the Contras, an anti-communist guerrilla organization in Nicaragua. 
After the arms sales were revealed in November 1986, President Ronald Reagan appeared on national television and denied that they had occurred. However, a week on November 13, he returned to the airwaves to affirm that weapons were indeed transferred to Iran. He denied that they were part of an exchange for hostages. 
In other words, Iran was a convenient bogeyman for Reagan and whoever was running the show during his administration illness. When they needed some cash, they didn’t hesitate to sell Iran weapons. Those involved in this sorry illegal mess in which both US policy and an act of Congress were defied, included George HW Bush, Robert Gates, Richard Armitage and a number of others who found their way into subsequent Republican administrations. None have ever been held accountable.
Eventually, the US intervened more directly by sending warships into the Gulf and by allowing Kuwaiti tankers to fly the US flag. Eventually incidents occurred, but the only loss of American life was an attack by an Iraqi plane on a US ship, the USS Stark. Meanwhile, a US ship IN IRANIAN WATERS on a mission of provocation, shot down an Iranian commercial airline, killing 290 aboard, for which we have never apologized. Eventually the Iraqis and Iranians settled the war with the previous boundaries being restored. The irony:
With more than 100,000 Iranian victims of Iraq’s chemical weapons during the eight-year war, Iran is the world’s second-most afflicted country by weapons of mass destruction, only to Japan. The total Iranian casualties of the war were estimated to be anywhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000. Almost all relevant international agencies have confirmed that Saddam engaged in chemical warfare to blunt Iranian human wave attacks, while unanimously announcing that Iran never used chemical weapons during the war.
I have already briefly detailed the events which took place after 9/11. Iran aided the United States in finding and capturing al-Qaeda agents and in its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, suspending such help only when the Bush administration refused to provide information to Iran about the MEK terrorist group operating against Iran; and of course when George Bush declared Iran part of the Axis of Evil in January, 2002, Iran certainly had little reason to expect anything but war from the US.
Now, you may ask, what does the US have against Iran? what has Iran ever done to the US, really? and the answer is: nothing, aside from that hostage thing that made Ted Koppel.
Now, you may suggest that Iran is a state sponsor of terror. To which I will say, not against the US it isn’t. And its support of Hezbollah, well, that is a whole nother story. As for its nuclear program, again, another story.
The facts are that the Iranian nation is by history a peaceful country whose attempts at democratization have been attacked repeatedly by the United States, whose interest is to control the oil in the region. Iran has never attacked the United States (aside from the embassy), doesn’t have the capability to attack the United States, and has never expressed a desire to attack the United States.
Those are the facts, a history of over 50 years of Iran trying to form democratic governments, and 50 years of a constant US policy to militarily impose authoritarian regimes on Iran, included overt support of the use of weapons of mass destruction on a scale surpassed only by the US nuclear attacks on Japan. George W. Bush is now trying to make a case for war against Iran on an almost daily basis, and is bringing terrific military force to bear on Iran.
Now, from the Iranian point of view, when you hear Condi Rice say that the US is willing to sit down with Iran in a “neighbors’ meeting,” what do you think the US wants?