Secretary of State
United States Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Albright:
Having had the opportunity to study more closely the content of the remarks you recently made to an Iranian-American audience on March 17th, I am taking the liberty of sharing some of my personal observations with you.
Let me begin by saying that I take no solace whatsoever in seeing the continuation of a state of estrangement that has come to exist between my country and the United States during the past two decades. Moreover, I too, would wish to see a resumption of normal and correct ties between our two countries, viewing such a development as an important factor for the promotion of a more open, more flexible society within Iran, as well as another crucial step towards its reintegration into the international community. Without wishing to go into detail, you have, in your speech, stated most frankly the major impediments that have so far prevented such a course of action. Moreover, despite the overwhelming position of advantage which your government now enjoys, you have shown a large measure of good faith in presenting the Iranian leadership with an olive branch that is theirs for the taking, if they have truly learned from the futility of the types of policies which they have promoted – and continue to promote – ever since their inception. I have long held the view that greater contact with countries blessed with a long tradition of democratic values, can only assist the cause of promoting greater pluralism within Iran by gradually enlarging the democratic franchise and eventually dismantling its existing “Islamic Apartheid” system. I believe the trend we have witnessed over the past three years is irreversible, and I am confident that the people of my country will ultimately overcome those wishing to obstruct its much-desired outcome.
While, many Iranian-Americans have welcomed the thrust of your speech, my office has, nonetheless, been inundated by an influx of calls from many concerned and offended Iranians, objecting to the somewhat apologetic tone of your remarks that inferred a feeling of remorse on the part of the current administration for policies that were conducted by a previous administration, almost a half a century ago. While, I have assured them that your comments were simply conciliatory rather than apologetic, I feel that I must also express the honest opinion that I do not find these kinds of comments to be useful for promoting the objectives we all seek.
In writing to you at this time, I am not motivated by personal feelings, but make my suggestions on the basis of an assessment that I consider to be both impartial and realistic. It is my view that what took place in Iran in 1953 only facilitated an outcome that would in any case have been inevitable. Bearing in mind the priorities of the day – i.e., to stem the threat of Soviet expansion- a state of affairs with which you must surely be personally familiar – coupled with the great popularity which my father enjoyed at the time (taking special note of the fact that Prime Minister Mossadegh’s popularity was a parallel phenomenon), it is hard to imagine how an isolated government which had proved itself incapable of solving Iran’s various social and economic needs could have sustained itself in the longer term (without exposing our people to other more serious threats and interventions) . It is not my intention to debate the merits of the argument that one might present to challenge the possible inference, which you have made. Indeed, in the past I have criticized the previous Iranian administration for its failures in foreseeing certain problems, and especially being rather shortsighted on the subject of giving at least equal weight to the process of political liberalization, parallel to our economic progress. I have independently and often acknowledged the contribution, which Prime Minister Mossadegh had made to the cause of Iranian nationalism.
But, in the current context, I find such insinuations to be most unhelpful and positively incapable of attaining the rather too obvious objectives for which they are designed .As for such notions having “set back the cause of political development by brutally repressing political dissent”, I need hardly remind you of the 21 year old record of those to whom you are directing these remarks. I doubt if there is any objective Iranian who would not acknowledge that the system of repression under the current regime – in a modern world, not plagued by the uncertainties of the Cold War era – is many times worst than the most exaggerated claims ever made against the record of the previous regime.
Allow me to conclude by saying that there is hardly any reasonable party – either American or Iranian – who does not recognize the need for the construction of a new Iran-US relationship based entirely on a new agenda for the future. This prevalent realization has come to exist for many reasons, amongst which the bi-lateral experiences of the past fifty years also figure prominently. It is my hope, and that of most young Iranians, that every effort should now be made to promote the consensus we all need on the basis of what is required to bind us in the future, instead of what divided us in the past.