U.S. relations with Iran must be mended

October 15, 2010 — by Samika Kumar

By the time Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sauntered off the stage after his speech to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, his audience had lost over 33 delegations, including those from the U.S., Canada and the European Union.

Though he covered multiple controversial subjects in his speech, many people there thought his theories about the Sept. 11 attacks went beyond the threshold for appropriateness.

The Iranian leader proposed three viewpoints as to who was responsible for the attacks.

There may have been a “very powerful and complex terrorist group,” according to Ahmadinejad, that managed to cross U.S. authorities and conduct the attack.

His second suggestion was a bombshell that caused delegates to leave in a staggered succession, starting off with the U.S. delegation. Ahmadinejad said it was possible “that some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order also to save the Zionist regime.”

As threads of ambassadors started leaving the room, Ahmadinejad stated the third standpoint: the possibility that U.S. intelligence was aware and took advantage of the terrorist group that carried out the attack.

In point of fact, Ahmadinejad offered only suggestions, not his opinions. Whether delegations like the U.S. agreed with the leader’s speech or not, it was unwise of them to leave in the middle of the address. Though the importance of the address may be debatable, Iran’s participation and compliance with the U.N. is crucial, and delegations cannot afford to lose a channel of communication with Iran.

Ahmadinejad was not the first to refer the Sept. 11 attacks as an inside job. In 2008, former Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota implied that the buidings collapsed from an organized demolition. Such a polemic idea did not bring nearly as much hate upon Ventura as Ahmadinejad received. If U.S. citizens like Ventura can come up with these ideas and not be persecuted, then outsiders—even those from the Middle East—should be allowed to bring up and voice the same thoughts. Furthermore, Ahmadinejad voiced the same thought that a U.S. governor had once proclaimed, meaning the Iranian leader’s “inside job” suggestion is not too radical after all.

In all cases, Iran, like any member of the U.N., should receive a respectful audience that will listen to the country’s views, no matter how radical they may be. If delegations are going to walk out of a representative’s speech simply because they find the speech’s content to be unjust or controversial, then nations will never advance any closer to achieving unity or compliance with each other. Regardless of how controversial or disliked Ahmadinejad’s suggestions are, it is the U.N.’s duty to pay attention and take everything into account.

As Iran advocates the development of its burgeoning nuclear program, the U.S. and other U.N. members must stay engaged with Iran to influence the latter positively. Though Iran’s nuclear program is currently not world-threatening, by alienating the nation, the U.S. and its allies could potentially add another country onto the list of threats to international peace.

A better relationship with Iran will make future negotiations easier. If the U.S. can foster better relations with Iran, it will gain an advantageous foothold in the Middle East, which can lead to possible advancements in providing stability and strengthening connections in the Middle East.

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