Mr. Trump, When You Were Dancing In Riyadh...

When you were calling for a “regime change” in Iran, the Iranians were changing their regime just a little more.

Dear Mr. Trump, when you were dancing in Riyadh and calling for a “regime change” in Iran, the Iranians were changing their regime, just a little more. This is what they have been doing over the past decade, step by step, one election at a time, and without American boots on the ground. That is without carnage, which you would like to end. You might argue that those elections are not really democratic as select candidates receive support while other, potentially qualified, ones are barred. I agree with you — except it will be ironic from a billionaire who financed his own way to the Whitehouse.

Mr. Trump, if you were interested in reading, I would refer you to book after book that describe the complexity and vibrancy of current Iranian society; a book like A History of Modern Iran by the distinguished historian of Iran Ervand Abrahamian (himself of Christian Armenian heritage). Or, you could simply browse the web to read about Iranian women populating top Iranian universities, illiteracy rates close to zero among the 15 to 25 year olds, women writers occupying the bestseller list, its annual book fair attracting over 2 million people to the capital, its bloggers numbering among the top three in the world on the internet, its cinema claiming first prize in the prestigious film festivals, its music, theatre, flower festivals, and more.

You cannot seriously argue that there are good reasons for isolating a country and changing its regime. Not if you want the world to take American foreign policy seriously.

Perhaps you will have enough patience for checking out one website. Please just google Elahe Gallery and take a look at one art gallery in Tehran, the way visual arts has flourished, the way the Iranian youth flock to these sites of artistic creativity as contributors and as spectators.

Mr. Trump, yes, in Iran women have to follow a modest dress code. Yes, Iran has not had a woman president yet. Yes, Iran has political prisoners, among them journalists, as well as those who have been dismissed from office because their views did not support the perspectives of those who occupy the halls of power. But standing in Saudi Arabia, and having just dismissed a few who do not endorse your perspective, you cannot seriously argue that these are good enough reasons for isolating a country and changing its regime. Not if you want the world (outside Saudi Arabia) to take American foreign policy seriously.

There is another minor detail. It is really not possible for the US, even if the Saudi’s sign billion dollar contracts to make it happen, to either change the regime in Iran or isolate the country. I hate to break it to you, but Iran is a little different from Iraq and it is already out of isolation after reaching the famous agreement with the 5 plus 1. That is, Europe, led by far-sighted leaderships in France and Germany, as well as others such as China and Russia, are already doing that. America can chose to leave the arena and isolate itself, if she likes.

Mr. Trump, I will not raise petty personal issues such as the fact that you actually bowed to the Saudi king for which you had criticized Mr. Obama. I won’t touch on your First Lady following the same dress code for which you had criticized the First Lady then. I am not going to point to the famous pattern that when rulers are in trouble at home, they turn to creating new enemies abroad.

But I tell you this, please be careful as you dance in Riyadh to the Saudi tune. A few decades ago, Mrs. Thatcher of the United Kingdom danced with the then Mojahedin in Afghanistan to get the Russians out of that power zone. We are still dealing with the resulting nightmare. They have since become the Taleban.

CONVERSATIONS