For Iranians, the War Has Already Begun


by Elham Pourtaher

Not a day goes by without the Trump administration imposing a new challenge on us, the Iranian people. Those who think that the travel ban has been the hardest obstacle for Iranians need to catch up with latest foreign policy developments. Encouraged by Donald Trump’s foreign policy advisors, the Iranian people today face an increasing risk of military attack by the United States. Also, the Iranian currency has lost 80 percent of its value since last year, mainly reflecting the collective sense of fear caused by the increased sanctions and the decertification of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the increasing empowerment of the most undemocratic factions of the Iranian state. Trump has proudly taken credit for bankrupting an economy that feeds 80 million people, and he has recently promised to reduce Iran’s oil export to zero.

Iran is only marginally reflected in the U.S. news, which means the American public does not hear voices that express the human suffering caused by the U.S. government far beyond its borders. The murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, Trump’s best ally in the region, is a rare instance of attention given to the nature of America’s allies and Iran’s opponents in the Middle East. Pro-democracy Iranians worldwide are experiencing a political trauma. They feel alienated from both internal and world politics. They are unable to communicate the debilitating pain of, on the one hand, expecting a military attack by the United States and on the other, the worsening of the political landscape in their home country.

Those who feel relieved by thinking that Trump will not engage in an actual war and is merely interested in making threats should realize that the war has already begun. U.S. sanctions are producing a level of suffering comparable to that of wartime. Sanctions in fact are a war waged by the United States against the Iranian working- and middle-classes. These groups struggle to make ends meet as unemployment dramatically increases even as the inflation rate skyrockets. The same people that the Trump administration is pretending to want to set free are the ones that are hit hardest by current U.S. policies in the Middle East.

I am a woman who grew up in Tehran. I arrived in the United States seven years ago to pursue my studies in sociology. This decision was strongly shaped by my involvement in the peaceful pro-democracy movements of 2009. I have always opposed, and continue to criticize, the undemocratic elements of the Islamic Republic state. While my profession and studies are very meaningful to me, the political dramas silently affecting my homeland and family on a routine basis make me feel alienated and utterly excluded from this society. I am weighed down by perpetual worry that my diabetic father is in danger of losing access to needed medication due to sanctions. My millennial friends are so consumed with anxiety over the possibility of war that their collective mental well-being is undermined, and they are unable to make any meaningful plans for their future.

Living a double life between the United States and Iran, I struggle daily with moments of despair and alienation: I am simply unable to communicate my concerns with the most caring colleagues at work and at school. U.S. civil society is so devoid of a voice representing my position that I struggle to find a way to verbalize my sense of panic, frustration, and despair. These fused feelings emerge because the wall between me and the rest of the society does not allow them to see the impact of the U.S. government’s decisions in lives lived far from them, but so close to my heart.

U.S. civil society needs to include more global perspectives on the country’s foreign policy. U.S. citizens must become more aware that their votes have grave consequences beyond their country’s borders. Although U.S. citizens are equipped with various safety nets and enjoy economic and military global superiority, their elected administration’s foreign policy is a matter of life and death for the citizens of the other countries, especially in the Middle East. For the United States to truly honor its claims to protect human rights and moral integrity, these issues need to be included in the upcoming election debates.

Elham Pourtaher is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at SUNY Albany. She works at the New York State Department of Health on programs that respond to the opioid crisis.  

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  1. Well, most of us were in a much worse situation, when Khomeini and his thugs slipped into Iran with his Trojan Horse, a gift of the French. They ransacked our heritage and we lost it all in Iran. But UK helped us all to settle and feel protected. Yes my family did get attacked by the IRGC in London. Yes we have spend years educating the diaspora and the world politicians who thought Ayatollahs were Iranians, when they are not. Yes you can see people here having a petty go at the likes of me who love Iran.

  2. Deae Elham:

    Thanks for your perspective. Yes, it is war. It’s economic terrorism raged on the people of Iran by sinister forces within the US that listen not to the people but only to the proponents of war and international bullying.
    Until this evil force is universally identified and removed, I am afraid that not only Iran will suffer but the entire world is at risk. At this moment, through the corrupting power of bribery (lobbying, PACS) the perpetual war state has total control of our two political parties, total conroll of the major media and its insidious and persistent manufacture of fear and false humanitarian crisis. With this internal power, the US War Machine is able attack vulnerable nations at will. Iran and Venezuela despite their huge disparities in military resources, have admirably confronted this American monster. Perhaps, their fortitude and courage in slowing down our warmongering will give us time to stop this genocide through the political process by listening to and electing Tulsi Gabbard as president..

  3. Yes, look into the candidacy for US president of Tulsi Gabbard. She is making our destructive and illegal foreign policies a centerpiece of her campaign. It would be great if she was allowed to participate fully in the debates to come in this election cycle, so she needs support for her campaign.

  4. Elham Pourtaher

    2009 was another attempt at regime change in Iran, its foot-soldiers being gullible people such as yourself.

    US has declared enemies of Israel to be enemies of US.

    Bush destroyed one – Iraq, Obama destroyed another one – Libya – and proceeded to destroy Syria but was stopped by Iran and later Russia.

    He signed a cease-fire deal with Iran but Trump resumed that war.

    Trump, furthermore, declared the Shia, i.e. the Party of Ali, to be the enemies of the United States (and by implication, the West).

    Think about it for a minute – you are living in a Secular Democratic Republic that is doing her best to destroy the Country of Imam Hussein.

    US are mad.

  5. Generally speaking the Americans are good and very generous people. The only problem here is that the military industrial complex (MIC) with its chosen individuals as politicians run this Republic with a lot of help from their subservient media. The mission is to deceive and to maintaining naivety amongst the people so the people won’t know how they’re spending their $800B per year military budget invading and destroying other countries for the purpose of controlling the resources of this planet. Many of the politicians are hand picked by the MIC for the poor Americans to place them in various offices by voting for them. This process deceive the people making them to think as if the country is a democracy which indeed it is a Republic. To certain degree the Ayatollahs are also doing the same thing and hand picking their favorite sons for the poor people to elect them.
    Elham, to think that the blind American people can change the policies of their “elected politicians” is only a pipe dream and it will never happen.

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