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Prudence Bushnell
Diplomat

Prudence Bushnell

As CEO of Sage Associates, Ambassador Prudence Bushnell lectures and consults on international and leadership topics.

Enough Surprises!

Let's remember our history with Iran. We propped up the Shah after a CIA-assisted coup in 1954 and made him our best friend until he was forced to leave the country in 1979. His vulnerabilities surprised us. The Ayatollah Khomeini's power surprised us. The takeover of our embassy surprised us. Enough already with the surprises! Let's do our homework this time, figuring out what we want and then going about the process of influencing the right people.

Key to this process is understanding what is happening in Iran and where Ahmedinejad fits. We have fallen into the trap of focusing too much on leaders and too little on the dynamics around them. This man is a political player, not the political player in Iran.

We need to become very clear about what we, the U.S., want both in the near and longer term. We need to nurture our allies and understand our adversaries in Iran and in the international community. We need to determine our strategy and act on it with intention, flexibility, integrity and patience. Nothing is likely to change for the better any time soon but we can certainly begin a journey in that direction, keeping track of milestones along with way. After 30 years of stiff arming one another we may actually begin talking. That's a start.

By Prudence Bushnell

 |  September 28, 2009; 5:17 PM ET
Category:  Leadership personalities Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Equating Iran (a people with a culture and history that extends beyond Islam) with the Islamic Regime run by Shi'a theocrats is just as big a mistake as leaving Afghanistan after the Soviets were driven out in the 80's, fertile ground for the Taliban to move in and run roots deep enough to present a daunting challenge to the US and NATO today.
LET'S get it right: Focus on Human Rights and support the grass-roots movement inside Iran that has broken through the "Islamic Republic's" frame work and gaining real momentum for true reform.
- Kauveh Auhangar

Posted by: TheBlacksmith | September 29, 2009 6:46 PM
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Just for the sake of historical accuracy, the Dulles brothers staged their Iranian coup on Iran on August 19, 1953. You must have it mixed up with the Dulles brothers' coup of Guatemala in 1954.

Allen Dulles was head of the CIA and his brother, John Foster Dulles, was Secretary of State under Eisenhower. This malignant pair of nincompoops have caused us over 50 years of pain. We really should consider renaming the airport.

Anyway, Iranians still blame us for the coup in 1953, and have declared a holy war against us. They will settle for nothing less than the death of millions of Americans. This is why they are so eager for nukes.

Posted by: alance | September 29, 2009 6:28 PM
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There is no question what we, the US, want in both the near and long term: an Iran without nuclear weapons. Anyone who thinks that Iran won't either use a nuclear weapon or won't sell one to someone who will is living in a dream world. Pray God we don't have such fools in the Halls of Power.

Posted by: rocks1 | September 29, 2009 4:57 PM
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It is Iran that wants to recreate a Caliphate in the Holy Land.

Lebanon-Syria-Palestine-Jordan would be under their control and they would use Hamas and Hezbollah as their inforcers.

Now there may be irrationalists in Israel but not once have I heard it uttered that all Muslims should be done away with.

All I heard is we want to stay here because we love the land, the land is Holy.

I agree the land is Holy and all three faiths should have access to worship and give praise to God at the Holy sites of all three faiths - what is wrong with that?

And they should be able to do that without fear and without rancor. Is that goal unethical? I don't think so.

Posted by: agapn9 | September 29, 2009 11:22 AM
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Something that I'm not understanding: How is Iran a threat to the US?

I can see that Iran and Israel are in a regional arms race (with Israel having an uncontested lead since she already has nuclear weapons).

It appears to me from what I see and read that Israel is invoking the US to punish and deter a potential rival.

Does Iran have a right to self defense? Israel has a long history of military actions outside of her borders (see the recent interdiction of a shipment of russian missles bound for Iran).

How can Iran not be expected to be a bit nervous?

Perhaps the best action here is for the US to strongly encourage Israel to take a less aggressive stance toward her neighbors.

Posted by: jlhistory | September 29, 2009 7:39 AM
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"figuring out what we want ' is a good first step."understanding Iran and where Ahmedinjad fits' is a good second step.

The third step is to remove the cancer which has been contaminating the region for the past 50 years. That is the Israeli-Palestinian situation.
It seems resonable to suggest that Iran has religious and territorial ambitions- by way of influence, if not physical occupation, in the Middle East. The plight of the Palestinians has provided it with the oppportunity to use organisatons like Hezbollah and Hamas as proxies to further those ambitions.
Iran is seen by Muslims throughout the world as possibly the only bulwark to Israel's intentions of expansion.One can understand this thinking when Muslims hear Israeli settlers claiming God gave them the land they are stealing from Palestinians. The issue of the 'promised land" is probably the single most tall barrier to the two state solution but no one seems to want to address it.
"we need to become very clear what we, the U.S want both in the near and longer term"
" We need to determine our strategy, and act on it with intention, flexibility, integrity and patience"
Wise counsel Prudence-thank you!!


Posted by: Charles15 | September 28, 2009 9:56 PM
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