The news is full of commentary on the Iranian nuclear negotiations. On this side there is serious doubt about how the Iranians can be trusted Very little direct commentary from the other side.
Trust is perhaps the fulcrum upon which everything else turns. Americans point out that Iran supports terrorist groups, but Iranians feel they are boosting liberation forces for the Palestinians and fellow Shiite followers. Americans have meddled in all sorts of countries. They overlook that back in 1953 the C.I.A. organized and supported a coup d'tat that replaced an elected premier, Mohammed Mosaddeq in Iran in order to protect western economic interests and went on to help set up a brutal secret police force, Savak. The Americans have also been involved in Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Chile and others. Iran has not invaded any country in the past several centuries, but have been invaded by Iraq with support from the United States. Iran, before being named as part of the Axis of Evil actually provided logistical assistance to the Americans and currently are fighting against a common enemy ISIL.
Militant presidential candidates and other Obama bashers need to realize that additional nations are part of the negotiations and need to be considered in any adjustments of the agreement. Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany each have a stake in negotiations. We need to have trust amongst our allies and adversaries. Bear in mind that each of the parties on our side has a different perspective on the issue and some compromises are part of the deal. If we don't respect one another how can we expect the other side to respect us.
That is all in the past; what can be done for the future? We can be sure that military and intelligence resources will be preparing for the inevitable expiration of the agreement. What will be done to build up mutual trust? Ten years is half a generation when we probably need a full generation to really make a difference in attitudes (theirs and ours).
The Middle East is a mess. Invading Iraq has opened up a lot of problems. Al Qaeda was not welcome there at the start of the American attack, but now it and more extreme elements are threatening the whole area. Sunni and Shiite distrust and fear each other. They used to inter marry and carry on business together. Fundamentalists and extremists are forcefully trying to impose their views on others. This is an internal dilemma best handled by other Muslims and we need to be careful not to take sides except to defend against violence.
We feel very uncomfortable with dark skinned people, especially if they are Muslim But we have a responsibility to help with the refuge problem generated by Mideast conflicts. Refuge camps are potential sources of violence. One way or another the stresses have to be relieved. Canada has stated a preference for Christian refugees which might be commendable, but doesn't really deal with the problem. Americans are not much better while some countries have tried to pick up the slack.
Education is an area where there is a limit to what can be forced upon the resistant masses. From both the top and grass roots, efforts should be encouraged for cross cultural projects. They generally take a long time to have a national impact, but are important to start the ball rolling. Sports and cultural exchanges have been useful with Russia, China and other nations.
I remember years ago having problems with my auto tires. A persistent slow leak was very inconvenient and took it to my regular reliable garage, but the problem soon returned. It took a Syrian immigrant I encountered at a gas station to really fix it. He made my life better and I am sure he did for others.
Palestine is very often used as an excuse or rationalization, but might there be something to it? Israel is a haven for Jews that are still discriminated against around the world. Millions of people (mostly Evangelicals) around the world feel Israel has Apcoylyptic meaning that lends very significant support to Israel despite any evidence of unfairness. The Palestinians feel that it is their land and other Arabs and Muslims feel they have been mistreated by western and Jewish powers. Settlements are an obvious affront to any honest attempts to reconcile the two races and somehow have to be stopped if not reversed.
During the recent Israeli elections Netanyahu expressed what many consider his true feelings that no two state solution will be instituted while he still has power. He has backtracked a little, but we should also realize that the Israeli voters have very strong concerns about security. Emotions such as fear are very difficult to overcome. Outsiders are painted as not understanding or worse. We like to think we have their best interests at heart and we truly realize that war is bad for everyone. Palestine has tired of empty promises and the one sided rhetoric against them and are trying to involve the International Court of Justice. United States, Russia and China have avoided the court, but in reality the court might be able to accomplish in a more neutral forum what the bigger powers with their vested interests cannot. Might the Muslim world credit the west with finally rectifying an injustice?
While we look at this from a distance we have more interests and responsibilities. Climate change, most likely caused by industrial nations has factored into the Mideast by way of droughts. Ironically some of the same people who believe the Jews have to control the Holy Land before the second coming also believe the climate is controlled by God and we humans should not interfere. To me they overlook that we have been interfering and not showing respect for God's creation. Climate change is affecting the entire world in different ways including floods, rising ocean levels, sea water acidification, stifling heat as well as droughts. The Mideast is just one area bearing the burdens of climate change and few see the connection. There are bound to be more tensions stemming from climate change.
Anti-Muslim forces seem to be strongly influencing America and other nations. Allied with climate change deniers, conservative right wingers use whatever available tools for their own greedy economic interests. It is time to take a longer range view or we will all suffer.
An earlier take on some "Persian" experiences: http://www.johnfdavidson.com/2012/10/my-three-persian-experiences.html
Some of you may know that I have family ties to the Arab Muslim part of the world. Like anyone else when I hear another perspective I often notice that those giving it are decent people with much in common with what I aspire to, it actually is more understandable. Close your heart and your mind and there is no shortage of weird violent people out there.