It is difficult to live through the last years of the Obama administration, symbolized these last weeks by the Iran-U.S. Nuclear Deal and the rapprochement with Cuba, without coming across the idea of "A New American Era."
Perhaps no country is as prominent in the Iranian eye as America. For good or bad America has almost a permanent presence in public discourse. Unlike other rentier states of the region, Iran is a socially and economically diverse country. The potential tie between the two countries goes much deeper than becoming a ritzy filling station for the U.S. fleet. What bring the two countries close are their ideals and dreams.
America's independence and its ideals has long established its position as a beacon of hope for generations of Iranians tired of world powers meddling. Constitutional Revolution of Iran in 1909 even has an American Martyr among its rank; Howard Baskerville fought and died along Iranian constitutionalists in Tabriz, birthplace of Iranian constitutionalists movement. In his words the only difference between him and his comrades was his place of birth, which he saw as insignificant.
For many around the world, the old American dream was the typical expression of the concept of "The American Century" formulated in a 1941 Life magazine article of that title by Henry Luce. The article was devoted to what Luce called "American internationalism."
The American dream is the spiritual pulse of the U.S.. But it also has multiple meanings for people elsewhere in the world. To some, it represents an imperialistic attitude, to others a symbol of economic and social achievement. Some, meanwhile, believe that the American dream is an effective tool for the domination of other traditions. In short, the American dream has become a measure for all things in today's world. Therefore, the American dream is not only the utopia of the American society, but also an ideal for those who hate this utopia or want to join it.
From the very beginning, America, the land of the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence, has also been the world's dream: a society built on new foundations, held together not by one tradition, but by the idea of a territory open to a plurality of experiences. As such, the secret of the American dream's power of attraction lies in the "invention" of America as a dream.
On the other hand America interventionism along with its gunboat foreign policy of the cold war, demoted its position among many who shared the same values with it. It can be argued that militant foreign policy which reared its ugly head following the CIA's coup of 1953, to overthrow the democratically elected government of Muhammad Mosadeq, not only failed in ensuring long-term interest of U.S. and its allies but also contributed to the current extremism and chaos. It deprived the region the chance of organic development of democratic processes.
The Kennedy administration and its handling of Cuba's missile crisis provided a glimpse at what an effective diplomatic exchange model can resolve; alas same approach was not adopted dealing with crises elsewhere. In Iran, memories of the coup along with support of Saddam Hussein, during Iran-Iraq war, put a great dent in America's moral capital. However as estranged the relationship has become, realities of the region and shared values between the two nations, have kept them as an inseparable partner. Rapprochement with America is not the question of if, but when and how.
Now we are at a historic juncture again, after two unsuccessful wars in Afghanistan and Iraq with most of the Middle East in turmoil, Obama administration made the historic and bold decision to directly engage with Iran over its nuclear program. No other issue throughout the last years of the Obama administration has dominated the public debate more than the Iran-U.S. nuclear deal and the rapprochement with Cuba. Both issues have the hallmark of "A New American engagement era." In the case of Iran, the rationale for the long march toward partnership can not be found in strategic alignment or expediency of politics alone, it runs much deeper; for many Iranians, America represents the new world, where individuals thrive on the merit of their skills and character, rather than old world feudal hierarchy.
It can be argued that among world powers, relation with America is unique, as it has a complex multi-dimensional exchange characteristic, one that is not only economic, but has a deep emotional and intellectual aspect as well. In other words, America also "belongs" to the world. Can this universalizing potential today be released in newly generous, enlarging ways, even for those who will remain forever beyond America's shores?
Martin Luther King Jr., stressed that Americans cannot themselves be free unless people are free in the poorer nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In this sense, Martin Luther King's dream of total interrelatedness and his vision of the beloved community have fuelled the concept of the American Dream in the past fifty years. Therefore, King called the attention of his native land and the world to the ways our everyday existence was dependent on the social creation of what he called a "world house" when he wrote: "This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great "world house" in which we have to live together- Black and White, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Moslem and Hindu -- a family unduly separated in ideas, cultures and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace."
King was able to guide America to a more equitable society, because he was able to see its future more clearly than many white or black Americans. Indeed, he possessed that rare clarity of moral vision that nonviolent struggle -- perhaps like no other environment -- can nurture. Today such an inclusive, interdependent awareness is essential in helping us initiate a dialogue between America and Iran which will establish the idea of transformative exchange as a paradigm for understanding and reshaping the world order.
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