...when he says the U. S. should apologize. In 1953, the CIA backed a coup that ousted the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh and installed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. Mossadegh had been threatening to nationalize the West's oil interests in Iran and the Shah, it was thought, would make a more reliable ally in the region. The U. S. was engaged in the Cold War with the Soviets and needed to ensure the security of Israel and the free flow of oil through the Gulf. The Shah, however, proved to be a brutal dictator and was ousted in the 1979 Islamic revolution. While most Americans are only vaguely aware of these events, Iranians are profoundly bitter.
With the benefit of hindsight, Americans are now ready to see their mistakes. If the U. S. is really the greatest country in history--and I think it is--then it should surely be big enough to admit when it was wrong and harmed others, no matter how well-intentioned its actions were at the time. Given the terrible state of relations with the Muslim world, an apology would go a long way to easing tensions. The Iranian people, unlike their leaders, find much to admire in the U. S. and the West. Any sign of conciliation on our part might bring them closer to us. Obama has said he wants to reach out to the Muslim world. This would be a good first step.