Some Thoughts on the Prisoner Swap and Iran Sanctions

I’ll have a nice, Day 16 update on the Malheur Federal Wildlife Refuge sometime tomorrow – I promise.

Right now I want to address the prisoner swap with the Iranians, as well as the initial lifting of sanctions for 90 days for Iranian compliance with the P5+1 Accords and the limited sanctions we’ve just imposed on select individuals and companies.

One of the things that is very clear in our inability to effectively deal with Iran is not just Iranian intransigence or hardliners, but rather our own special brand of American domestic politics. This screws up a lot of our policy discussions and limits the strategies we develop on a wide variety of domestic and international issues because it places artificially narrow limits on what our objectives might be and how we might go about achieving them.

This has certainly been the case with Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. American’s domestic attitudes towards Iran have been locked into a simplistic and binary “Iran-evil, US-good” dynamic since the Embassy was overrun and American personnel were taken hostage. While the Iranian religious authorities, the folks that actually run Iran, have also done a good job of installing this belief in Iran too, it has really complicated American policy making and strategy in the Middle East. The biggest problem has been the inability to conduct even the most basic interactions. Along with the sanction’s regime that we imposed on Iran we also broke ties using a cut out when it was necessary to communicate. We watched and listened to what Iran did/does and always saw the worst and they did the same thing. The invasion of Iraq and the strategic failure of Operation Iraqi Freedom that led to the fragmenting/unravelling of Iraqi state and society was actually a gift to Iran. And the Bush 43 Administration’s stopping of two attempts by the Iranians to engage didn’t help the situation either. I’m not suggesting that the Iranians were completely on the level, but this wasn’t even trust, but verify. It was simply we aren’t going to interact at all.

The P5+1 negotiations, as well as the separate negotiations leading to this past week’s prisoner exchange, mark something very different. These have both been small, steady steps that have begun the process of creating a small amount of trust between the US and Iran. Iran’s actually decommissioning and entombing the Arak reactor as part of the P5+1 certification process is a tremendous deal. This is because Iran desperately wants out from under the sanctions regime and to be allowed back into the global community as just one nation among 191 others. Living up to its P5+1 obligations helps to get Iran there. As the sanctions are lifted something new is going to happen between Iran and the US – Iranians and Americans are going to begin to interact with each other on a more normal basis.

Iran announced last Fall that it would update its aging fleet of commercial airplanes as soon as the sanctions were listed. This is now going to happen. Not only will there be economic interaction, but there will be professional interaction. Iranians will need to come to the US and Germany and Americans and Germans will need to go to Iran to train pilots on the new Boeing and Airbus platforms and teach engineers and mechanics how to maintain them. These interpersonal interactions are going to drive more change in Iran than almost anything else we could do. The detractors of the diplomacy that has brought us the P5+1 Agreement and the prisoner exchange are also the biggest boosters and proponents of the free market and its power. The opening with Iran, made possible through diplomacy, is an opening for free market interactions. Interactions between people, as well as interactions in the economic realm.

No matter how reactionary and authoritarian the Iranian religious authorities are, they cannot stop those signals. The have reached a be careful what you wish for, you just might get it moment. They wanted out from under the sanctions regime. They wanted to be just one state among 191 others. For the first time in thirty-six years they are. And now it will be interesting to see what happens as a result.

And this is why the targeted sanctions that were just announced on specific individuals and businesses is both a good approach and a potentially effective response. Punishing Iran, as in all of Iran and Iranians in general, never got us what we really wanted over the past thirty-six years – a real change in the Iranian state and society. While there’s no guarantee that we will see change now that the P5+1 compliance has led to the lifting of sanctions, nor what kind of change it will be, there is a greater chance of it happening now than even a year ago.


84 replies
  1. 1
    David *Rafael* Koch says:

    Obama should have sent them machine guns and missiles just like St. Reagan.

    Maybe before he leaves office Obama can lay a wreath at a Waffen-SS grave yard, just like Ronnie.

  2. 2

    I always thought it was a good thing that Iranians got student visas to study in the universities over here.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Thanks, Adam. I remember when there was worry that the Dems in Congress would scuttle the deal due to domestic pressure. Glad to see it’s working out so far.

  4. 4
    Starfish says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: And had anchor babies.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Baud: That was all the domestic politics. Our domestic politics places a lot of narrow constraints on our policy and strategy discussions. The Israeli-Palestinian issue is one. Iran is another. China too. Some of these are left over from the Cold War and fears we’ve never exorcised. Others are domestic issues. We can’t do anything about crumbling infrastructure and a power grid that’s up to code for 1954. Not because we don’t know how to fix these, but because we’ve got a budgeting debate that starts and ends with no tax increases ever, tax cuts for the wealthy at all times, and spending cuts for everything but defense and security. This all limits the policy options and possible strategies to do anything.

  6. 6
    Baud says:

    Next season’s Shahs of Sunset is going to be so awesome.

  7. 7
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Nice overview. Thanks. Engagement is, as a rule, better than non-engagement.

  8. 8
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    This is an excellent summary. Thanks. I think only Airbus deals have been announced thus far. (Iran probably hopes that keeping Boeing in reserve will help minimize any talk of additional sanctions for their missile misdeeds, etc.)

    Our countries have lots of common interests, and lots of Persians pushing for better relations. I went to grad school with a few, I worked with a fellow whose family escaped the Revolution on horseback, and my hair-cutter still has family in Tehran. (Her 92 year old father just died recently.) The present youth of the population, the vast numbers of college-educated women, and the need for the government to open up to have economic opportunities for the smart, vibrant people all point to great opportunities for sensible relations between our peoples.

    Our insistence of treating our relationship with them as being frozen in November 4, 1979 was a huge mistake.

    Fingers crossed.

    Thanks again.


  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yes it is.

  10. 10
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: When I was in college in the 1970’s, it seemed as if half the nuclear engineering grad students were Iranians. This was before the Shah was overthrown. I always wondered what happened with them – if they finished before 1979, did they go back and then work on the post-revolution nuclear program? If 1979 came while they were still enrolled, did they have to go back? Did their funding get cut? Did anyone go back in, say, 1977, then defect after the revolution?

  11. 11
    WereBear says:

    Invasion worked for Grenada! Have they bothered us since?

  12. 12
    Starfish says:

    @Gin & Tonic: They were here as part of the Atoms for Peace program. Some of them went back and some of them stayed.

  13. 13
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gin & Tonic: A lot of those students stayed here. A lot went back. Depended in the student and their family.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    Also, with both Iran and Cuba, I’m glad Obama broke the rule that said only the proverbial Nixon can go to China.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: I think SoS was always Kerry’s dream job. My feeling is that he ran for POTUS in 2004 out of a feeling of obligation not burning desire.

  16. 16
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @WereBear: Had to get the med school students out before the volleyball tournament.

  17. 17
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Gin & Tonic: What I found interesting in talking with my Iranian fellow grad school students was that the social ranking of prestigious occupations was very different there than here.

    The ranking was something like:

    1. Architects
    2. Engineers
    3. …
    4. Physicians
    5. …
    n. Lawyers

    Architects were on top. Susanne (IIRC) would be pleased. ;-)


  18. 18
    Mike J says:

    Alborz Habibi ‏@AlborzHabibi 8h8 hours ago
    My very first tweet from sanctions-free Iran. Also first time tweeting without having to use VPN to bypass censorship.

  19. 19
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Yup. His father was in the Foreign Service and it made a big impression.


  20. 20
    Punchy says:

    Iranian oil primed to hit the market. Expect gas under $1/gal, no?

  21. 21
    Baud says:


    Stocks across the Middle East tumbled as the easing of sanctions against Iran raised the prospect of a surge in oil supplies to a market already reeling from the lowest prices in more than a decade. Shares in Tehran gained.

    Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index dropped 5.4 percent to its lowest level since March 2011. Abu Dhabi’s ADX General Index fell into a so-called bear market. The Bloomberg GCC 200 Index, which tracks 200 of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council’s biggest companies, traded at 9.5 times estimated 12-month earnings, the lowest in almost seven years. Iran’s TEDPIX Index climbed 0.9 percent, according to data on the bourse’s website, extending Saturday’s 2.1 percent advance.

  22. 22
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Punchy: It’ll be hard for them to sell a lot into this glut.

  23. 23
    FlipYrWhig says:

    I feel like Iran’s people have been very badly served by their crazy ass government. I want them to cease being a pariah nation. I feel like they have a lot to offer, and that if Iran were ascendant and Saudi Arabia knocked from its perch, that the world would be much better off.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Punchy: No. My car needs premium.

  25. 25
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Relieving the sanctions will do more to put pressure on the Iranian religious authorities that really run the place than just about anything else. It will take a little time, but it will happen.

  26. 26
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Punchy: Gas? Maybe oil.

    Bloomberg from November:

    The country’s return to the oil market comes as the world is producing much more oil than it needs. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global oil production in the first half of 2015 averaged 95.7 million barrels a day, while average daily consumption came in at only 93.8 million barrels. The difference of almost 2 million barrels a day — equal to the daily consumption of France — has forced traders to turn supertankers into floating storage facilities. The Iranians had to make a similar move when sanctions hit in 2012, converting their extensive fleet of crude tankers into giant storage bins that have spent much of the past three years anchored in the Persian Gulf.

    More Iranian oil on the market in 2016 will extend the oversupply. The impact will reverberate across the world, hurting oil-producing countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, as well as entrepreneurial shale companies in North Dakota and Texas, and major oil companies including ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. As traders anticipate the return of Iranian oil, the futures market is already lowering its expectations for prices next year, with contracts for December 2016 trading at less than $60 a barrel.

    Zanganeh has repeatedly said Tehran would increase its production by 1 million barrels a day within weeks of the end of the sanctions, expected to be lifted sometime during the first half of 2016. The IEA estimates that within six months of sanctions ending, Tehran could bring daily production to 3.6 million barrels—or about 800,000 barrels a day above current production. That would mark Iran’s highest level of crude output since 2011.

    Oil is already under $30 and heading lower.

    All of Iran’s increased production won’t be exported (at least if the economy starts growing, as it should), but any additional production will put more pressure on oil prices to fall.

    (Who doesn’t expect oil to fall to $1/bbl, but wouldn’t be surprised if it goes below $20/bbl before it stabilizes and starts rising again.)

  27. 27
    David *Rafael* Koch says:

    @Baud: I’m hoping for a new spin-off “The Shahs of Tehran” – they’re gorgeous.

  28. 28
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Who said anything about $1/bbl? People would sort of stop drilling at that point, yes?

  29. 29
    Mike J says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: RBS was predicting $16/bbl

  30. 30
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I did. ;-)

    Oil fell to ~ $7/bbl around 1986..

    It costs very little for the Saudi’s Saudis (sigh) to pump oil. If they want to make it impossible for Iran to make any money (as I’m sure they would like to do), they could keep pumping and cut off their own noses.

    As I said, I don’t expect it to fall that far.


  31. 31
    the Conster says:


    Iran is a much more natural ally – they have western traditions that our beheading ally Saudi Arabia will ever have, plus, having a Shiite ally as a counterweight to ISIS gives us more options. How often do Iranians have public beheadings?

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: Seven is, I understand, seven times greater than one. But my math may be off. I am not a STEM guy.

  33. 33
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: The OPEC rules are that Iraq and Iran cannot produce more than the other. Basically they tethered the two countries as a way to prevent complications from the historic rivalry.

  34. 34
    Starfish says:

    @David *Rafael* Koch: She’s really getting away with wearing her head scarf that far back and the lipstick? New government is lax.

    Also Rich Kids of Tehran.

  35. 35
    jonas says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: This is crazy. Remember, it was a Saudi-engineered oil glut in the early 80s that effectively brought down the USSR. I wonder if we won’t see a Saudi-Iranian standoff over global oil prices that brings Putin to his knees in the end. The Saudis are pissed at the Russians for their support of Assad, so no price supports for you! The Iranians and Russians are allies of convenience over Syria/ISIS, but the Iranians aren’t willing to hold back oil sales because they need foreign currency so bad (to pay for, among other things, aircraft parts and the like).

    The party in Russia is *so* over. And in the Gulf States, I might add. And Iraq — which is not good news. Crazy high oil prices suck, but crazy low oil prices could open a whole can of worms we just don’t need right now.

  36. 36
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Interesting. Thanks.

    But we all recall that OPEC had problems in the past with some countries producing far more than their quotas

    I don’t know how strongly the cartel would be able to resist the desire to break the quotas now. Especially when the Saudis seem so intent on punishing Iran now.


  37. 37
    Mike J says:

    @the Conster:
    From 2014, so a bit dated:

    Last year’s global increase is due in part to more executions in Iran and Iraq, followed by Saudi Arabia, the report said. The number of officially acknowledged executions in Iran was at least 369, but the rights group said “credible sources” reported 335 more. The group said Iraq executed at least 169 people.

    The report doesn’t mention how or where executions were carried out

  38. 38
    Mike J says:

    @Starfish: Rich Kids (Glen Matlock form the Sex Pistols, Midge Ure from Ultravox)

    Nothing to do with Iran, but when you say Rich Kids, I think power pop.

  39. 39
    zanamu says:

    I really appreciate your insights. Iran has its own diverse political complications, even among the various imams & other ruling elites. Finding pockets of political agreement there is as challenging as the US, even though the political leadership is more ruthless and generally more intelligent than the Americans.
    My personal stake would be to experience an upgrade of Iranian domestic aviation. I have had many terrifying flights over that country. When you book a flight, they always lie & tell you the plane is a Boeing – more likely they are old Tupelovs that don’t even fly in Russia any more. The trains are always completely booked (the Iranians know what is in the air!) so flying is really the only option for quick transportation, and is still safer than anything on the pavement. It is a testament to Iranian domestic aviation that so many of those old planes are still in the air, but sometimes its like riding in a buckboard. Progress!

  40. 40
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    I’m in the dungeon (apparently for editing a post). Help?



  41. 41
    Ruckus says:

    I used to have an Iranian fellow working for me, he and his father owned a mfg business in Iran before 1979 and had to leave to keep from being killed. Very skilled and educated man. I got the impression that many many people in Iran were as skilled and educated.
    I’m glad that we (at least some of us anyway) have learned that bluster, bullshit and military power is not enough to be a member of the worlds countries. It’s a big place, we are part of it, not the owners.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @efgoldman: I’ve spent too much time in the public sphere to be a natural – although thinking in six minute blocks is a learned behavior. Seven doesn’t enter into it.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    I always thought that was the thing that was stressed every day, not just the first thing taught.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike J: “You either got it, honey, or you ain’t.”

    Sorry, Glen.

  45. 45
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Seven is Six plus One, I think. So, it’s one better.

    Not as pithy as 1 + 1 = 2 though.


  46. 46
    the Conster says:

    @zanamu: I read on twitter that Iran had put in an order for 114 Airbus commercial jets in anticipation of sanctions being lifted. So there you go.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: This one goes to eleven.

  48. 48
    Eric U. says:

    @Gin & Tonic: all the Iranian grad students I knew went back to fight the Iraqis fairly soon after the revolution.

    I worked for an Iranian prof part-time until recently. Good guy, I really like the Iranian grad students I have worked with. I guess that would mess up my security clearance if I wanted to reactivate it. Of the two students I know really well, one is observant Muslim, but not obnoxiously so. The other one is fun to have a beer with, if you get my drift.

    I got a paper from an Iranian university to review, and asked one of the grad students if he knew anything about the school. He told me there are hundreds of engineering schools in Iran. Huh

  49. 49
  50. 50
    Mike J says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Glen was better off in a band with musicians, even if they never had the fame of his earlier band. And he got publishing from the Pistols and didn’t have to tour with them. Sounds like a big win.

  51. 51
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Indeed.

    How low will it go? Who knows. It looks like it will keep falling though.

    Bloomberg from December:

    Even so, it’s possible the incentive to store will expand to the point where vessels will do so in the first quarter, Lindell said. So-called “supercontango” levels witnessed in 2008-09 may still be reached as oil refineries shut for regular maintenance and demand growth slows. This may drive down spot oil prices to as low as $30 a barrel and widen the contango in the process, he said. Onshore storage space may also be exhausted in the period, PIRA Energy Group, a consulting company, said in a report this week.

    Brent crude, the international benchmark, dropped 2.9 percent to $38.58 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange as of 3:57 p.m. local time. Prices dropped for a sixth day as the International Energy Agency forecast the global oil glut would last at least until late 2016.

    While there’s still the oversupply of crude this year, meaning ships are waiting longer to unload than normal, the carriers are doing so because they have to. Some on-land storage depots are filling up to such an extent that vessels can’t discharge their cargoes until space has been cleared, according to shipbrokers and tanker-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Tankers able to hold more than 100 million barrels waited for days or weeks at a time off the coasts of crude-consuming countries in the middle of November, little changed from six months earlier, according to ship-tracking data. They normally arrive and depart within 48 hours.

    Just as it did during the recession, an increase in on-land supply has boosted rates for tankers. Very large crude carriers, each hauling 2 million barrels, earned an average of $57,766 a day so far this year, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker. That will be the highest since 2008. When ships have to wait to unload, it diminishes the number that compete to haul cargoes, boosting rates.

    (Contango is what they call the spread between the price and the cost for storing it in a tanker while waiting for the price to rise.)

    Everything is pointing for the price to keep falling, even before Iran’s oil enters the market.


  52. 52
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mike J: I was about to argue with you, because Johnny did interesting things with PIL, but then I focused on the fact that you talked about musicians. You are probably correct about Matlock.

  53. 53
    Anoniminous says:

    Any analysis of US-Iran relations needs to start with the 1953 coup.

    In August 2013, 60 years after the coup, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) admitted that it was involved in both its planning and its execution, including the bribing of Iranian politicians, security and army high-ranking officials, as well as pro-coup propaganda.

  54. 54
    benw says:

    The nuclear physicists behind the Iran treaty. Physicists are the best.

  55. 55
    Redshift says:

    Ms. Redshift teaches at a local community college. Iranian students used to be among her best, but they were hard hit by the post-9/11 changes in visas for Middle Eastern students that started to bite around 2004. She’d be happy to have them back; hope it happens.

  56. 56
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Anoniminous: Operation Ajax?

    Wasn’t Ajax the 1st try that failed, and then the US tried a 2nd time and succeeded? Putting the Shah in power.

    I recall reading something once that the blowback from Operation Ajax was the worst in the history of the CIA…

    What about the aftermath of WW I and the Sykes-Picot Line?

    I’d be of the opinion that the British and French deserve credit for far more of the trouble in the ME than they ever want to take responsibility for. Same all across Africa and SE Asia…

    Nothing that happens in human affairs is never not related to what happened before it.

  57. 57
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @The Republic, Blah Blah Blah…: Okay. let’s put a bunch of blame on the Brits and the French. How does that change our current situation? I am all for historians accurately describing how and why, but from a policy standpoint, how does it matter? Are the Brits and French excluded from the discussion or are they included because they might have more expertise? It’s a complicated world.

  58. 58
    Steve in the ATL says:


    I feel like Iran’s people have been very badly served by their crazy ass government.

    It’s just like a red state!

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @The Republic, Blah Blah Blah…: Kermit Roosevelt was sent over to oversee the fomenting of the coup. He spent the entire time holed up in a basement because it wasn’t safe to go out and foment the coup. By the time he emerged it was all over. The Intel folks have been spinning their on the ground success ever since. They used it to lobby for why they could pull off Bay of Pigs.

  60. 60
    Suzanne says:

    @I’mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet: I had two Iranian classmates in architecture school. One was a woman.

  61. 61
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Just pointing out that events don’t happen in a vacuum… if you’re looking for cause and effect, you need to understand more than just what happened last year or the year before… or before 1979, for that matter…

    Personally, I’m really pleased w/ what’s happened between the US and Iran of late…

    In some ways it’s not unlike what happens in this country when some interests keep wanting to go back and refight the Civil War… you’d think all of that got settled 150 plus years ago but not for some parties… and if you don’t understand that, you don’t understand what’s going on…

  62. 62
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Not surprised to hear about the Bay of Pigs part… and that worked out well for them, didn’t it?

    It seems advantageous in life to learn to take a broader view… you end up understanding things better, IMHO…

  63. 63
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: There is a point in mentioning them from a historical perspective. But as they are part of the P5+1 coalition they deserve some credit here. Not to mention all the countries involved will enjoy some great benefits. I am just dying for the price of pistachios to drop like a stone.

    @Suzanne: Every Iranian woman I have ever met has been whip-smart, friendly, and willing to learn as much as she could. The thumb of the Revolution must sit on their backs so heavily, especially considering how things were before the Ayatollahs.

  64. 64
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Yutsano: Thank you.

    It’s funny how in this country, the whole process of negotiating the agreement has basically been covered as a US-Iranian show w/out much mention of the OTHER parties involved…

  65. 65
    Amir Khalid says:

    @The Republic, Blah Blah Blah…:
    It’s funny how American mainstream news media seem have the mindset that all Earth is divided in two parts: the USA and the rest.

  66. 66
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Amir Khalid: Yup… serious problem, IMHO… it’s kinda like that old gag map of the US that was on the cover of New Yorker magazine decades ago… there’s New York City… there’s Jersey across the river, then the Midwest and then California… oh yeah, there’s someplace called ‘China’ too…

  67. 67
    Mike J says:

    David Patrikarakos @dpatrikarakos
    BREAKING: #Iran banks just reconnected to the SWIFT international wire transfer system

  68. 68
    scav says:

    @Mike J: There’s something I never would have expected to produce such a solid little glow of pleasure. International banking.

  69. 69
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Punchy: Nope, still over $3 a gallon here in CA.

  70. 70
    Ruckus says:

    Not at costco

  71. 71
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Ruckus: I can get it for $2.50 in the East Bay (Oakland)…

  72. 72
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @Ruckus: Didn’t have enough gas in the tank to risk the 5 mile drive on the 5 to Costco Burbank(traffic looked like a real mess); so I filled up at the local Unocal.

  73. 73
    BillinGlendaleCA says:

    @The Republic, Blah Blah Blah…: We had a refinery blow up here, so it’s constrained the supply of product.

  74. 74
    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @BillinGlendaleCA: Yeah… now that you mention it, I remember that…

    California has its own special problems, apart from the rest of the country…

  75. 75
    Zinsky says:

    @the Conster: The Conster brought up a point that few Americans realize – Iran is a much more modern, Westernized country than Iraq. Have you ever seen downtown Tehran? It looks like Chicago! When Cruz and the rest of the right-wing imbeciles talk about attacking Iran, as if it were just another Third World country of mud hovels and camels, they don’t really understand what they are advocating. Carpet-bombing a city like Tehran would kill thousands of innocent, well-educated civilized human beings with 20th Century infrastructure and turn the entire world against us!

  76. 76
    Tokyokie says:

    I’m for anything political policies that will allow the flow of Iranian pistachios into the U.S. market. Iran produces twice as much tonnage of pistachios as the next-largest producer, the U.S., and Iranian pistachios, albeit smaller than the U.S. variety, are far tastier. And if opening the U.S. to Iranian pistachio production were to cause pressure on the domestic supply and cause some U.S. farmers to take some acreage out of production, considering the amount of water consumed by California nut production, that would be a good result as well.

  77. 77
    El Caganer says:

    @Tokyokie: Don’t forget the caviar…..

  78. 78

    One point on sanctions and why Iran is buying Airbuses rather than Boeings: Most US sanctions will remain, and trade between the US and Iran will be very limited. Also, Iran and the US do not have diplomatic relations, and probably won’t for some time.

    I’d like to see a lot of students and others going in both directions, but the interactions will be mostly with Europe, China, and Russia until the sanctions and diplomatic recognition change.

    OTOH, the US is involved in redesigning the Arak reactor, which was a bit of a surprise to me anyway. So there will be some interaction.

  79. 79
    Tokyokie says:

    @El Caganer: Yes, but I consume far more pistachios than caviar.

  80. 80

    @Zinsky: Ha that’s what you think libtard! The Rest of the World would be shocked &awed by our genital display… errr indiscriminate bombings and bow and genuflect to marvel at our awesomeness!

  81. 81
    Loviatar says:

    Funny how, Americans conversations about Iran always seem to begin with the 1979 hostage crisis instead of its actual start point: 1959 Iran Coup.

  82. 82
    Chris says:

    @The Republic, Blah Blah Blah…:

    I’d be of the opinion that the British and French deserve credit for far more of the trouble in the ME than they ever want to take responsibility for. Same all across Africa and SE Asia…

    And in mid-20th-century Iran specifically, the blame did indeed go on the Euros – the British and the Soviets, specifically. America, on the other hand, was actually pretty well regarded. Sure, it had its own history of imperialism, but not so much in the Middle East. All they knew about us was that a couple progressive presidents had supported European decolonization, and that our entry into the Saudi oil market had been done on the basis of a 50/50 split of the profits (a hell of a contrast with the British, who on their best day only offered the Iranians 16% of the profits). In the late forties and early fifties, we actually had a window to convince the Iranians that we were different.

    Then the 1953 coup happened.

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    The Republic, Blah Blah Blah... says:

    @Chris: That’s pretty much the way I understood it, too…

    Until the coup, we were well regarded in Iran…

    Similar sort of situation in Vietnam, too… the Vietnamese just wanted the French OUT after WW II and we kinda backed the French in that little faster cluck until they got their butts licked so badly at Dien Bien Phu and withdrew…

  84. 84
    OGLiberal says:

    @Starfish: I think that look is pretty common and tolerated in Tehran. Not sure about the less cosmopolitan areas but Iran is a far cry from Saudi Arabia – our ally – when it comes to what woman can do.

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