Saving face

By By Ana Breton and By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

How the United States perceives Iran is key to Iran’s survival, said a scholar at Cambridge University’s Center of International Studies.

At a Hinckley Institute of Politics forum on Wednesday, Roxane Farmanfarmaian explained why perception is crucial in preventing a potential war with Iran.

In the 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush stated that Iran was part of the “axis of evil,” saying that Iran’s “terrorist allies?threaten the peace of the world.”

Reality, however, is the complete opposite, Farmanfarmaian said.

“This is just a way to save face,” she said, noting the current criticism on the Iraq war.

Because of the ongoing war on terror, it has become critical for the United States to engage Iran as an ally rather than to confront it in a new war, she said.

Besides the nuclear threat, Farmanfarmaian said, Bush is considering a war with Iran because he believes its citizens deserve a better life.

“It is important to remind ourselves that Iran has a constitution-making it a unique political partner in the Middle East,” she said.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the first Iranian constitution, she said, adding that Iranians hold elections regularly on local and national levels.

Perceptions about Iranians and the country’s economy are also flawed, she said.

“Today, there are more Iranian women graduating from universities than there are men,” Farmanfarmaian said. “When asked ‘how is this possible?,’ the girls described how Islamic values promote education.”

Such facts about Iran are unknown to the U.S. president and most of its people, she said.

Artak Aleksanyan, senior in communication, said that the United States’ interest in Iran should concern more important things than nuclear weapons.

“Nukes are their only concern,” Aleksanyan said. “They tend to focus on international issues to escape local issues, like Iran’s poverty.”

Simon Runolfson, sophomore in English and political science, said both countries should change their perception and their tactics.

“There is really no reason go to war with Iran,” Runolfson said. “On the other hand, Iran needs to open better dialogue to be better understood-that would be the right step to take.”

Bobby Sakaki

Roxane Farmanfarmaian discusses American perceptions of Iran in a lecture at the Hinckley Institute of Politics in OSH on Wednesday.