by Henry Precht
Old Iran hands are familiar with the American record of assisting in the development of that country. Our major aid program ran until the late 1960s while a Peace Corps contingent remained into the mid-1970s. Their objective was teaching English and other technical skills.
Now that we appear to be approaching the restoration of more normal relations between countries that were once friends, perhaps it is time to think of restoring the balance in aid transfers. More to the point, shouldn’t Iran be assisting us with some of our major developmental problems?
At the top of the list would be sorting out the large number of candidates—especially Republican—who line up for the presidential nomination. Can the Iranians advise us how to get the number down to a manageable two or three or so?
The Iranians regularly have this dilemma with hundreds of candidates not a mere dozen. They solve it by having a committee of worthy religious scholars vet the eager contestants and exclude those who don’t measure up. If Iran established a “Peace Not War Corps” (PNWC), its volunteers might advise us on setting up something similar.
As the U.S. is not a fundamentalist country in a spiritual sense, the Iranians might advise our authorities to select worthy divines from our true religion— sports. Five deeply thoughtful grandees from the world of athletes would be selected to winnow candidates. LeBron James might be the chairman of the group. Next problem?
For generations the U.S. has been wrestling with the influx of foreigners—immigrants who insist on coming to our shores. It is well known that Iranians have an abiding love of poetry, which is perhaps what makes them such a mellow, hospitable race. Where else in the world can you hear poetry recited on prime-time radio?
The answer for the US problem might be for teams of PNWC volunteers to come to this country and teach poetry (in English to be sure) in some of our immigrant-averse villages. Sufficiently softened up, Americans would soon be offering welcoming cups of tea to our Hispanic neighbors and others from more distant lands. Next question?
Our citizenry is divided over what role money ought to play in politics. Should the dollar have a louder voice than a simple citizen’s? Iranians are free of such concerns. They worry more actively whether religion counts strongly enough in the voting of citizens. After due deliberations, a PNWC team might be formed to explain that while Iran reveres its Imams, America worships its CEOs, bankers, and other plutocrats. Money is a more powerful force than even a bases-loaded grand slam. The dollar’s importance should be downgraded, the Iranians might instruct, from CEO level to that of the ordinary citizen.
And now we come to the justice systems of the two formerly-in-conflict nations. Surely there is nothing that the medieval Iranian system can teach the US. But, let us think objectively and calmly. Think about all those Wall Street tycoons who were responsible for the terrible losses of the Great Recession. Not a one has gone to prison for fraud or such crimes. The PNWC could teach Washington and New York exactly how sharia works. They might even give helpful guidance for the amputation of the hands or stoning of convicted thieves.
The final area of American need for outside help is the extreme difficulty our two political parties, two legislative houses, and the executive branch have in coming together and agreeing on wise policies. Alas, the fairly chaotic political arena in Tehran isn’t exactly a model waiting to be copied. Not even by a capital in as desperate straits as Washington.
But, wait. Think about the tranquil days under the Shah. There were two parties, one we called the “Yes, sir” Party. The other was known as “You’re right, sir” Party. Never a chirp of disagreement was to be heard from them. Probably some of their members are still lodged in Evin Prison or like accommodations. They could be recruited for the PNWC as volunteer instructors to give the disputatious Americans guidance on respecting authorities.
Cooperating on mutual problems is an excellent way of drawing two nations together. Who knows, Israel might even ask to join in.
Photo: Iranian poet Moalem Damghani