April 28

It's our last night in Iran and it's 2AM. I am looking out at the park along the river in Esfahan, a fabulously beautiful city, full of parks and squares and monuments more beautiful than the next. It is beyond my imagination to conceive how the US could think of bombing such a place, or anyone here.

When I spoke with Medea earlier tonight, she told me about the FOX news hour on nuclear proliferation in Iran. I subsequently read Internet articles about ads being bought in the US depicting a nuclear threat to NYC. I felt a moment of total insanity wash through my psyche, I couldn't reconcile the week I had spent here and all the people I had met and spoken with.... and what I was hearing from the US.

There isn't much Iranians agree on, but responses to my questions about the US bombing them always include incredulous laughter. "Unthinkable, insane, outrageous and impossible." 

is a question that comes up rarely, as they cannot think of any reason for a US attack. When I respond by questioning their nuclear proliferation, I yet again receive a laugh. "Your administration's propaganda," is the invariable response.

On occasion, a few have commented, "Well, what if we do have or are making a bomb? Why can't we have one to protect our natural resource, which everyone wants? We are surrounded by Pakistan, India and Israel, we have US bases surrounding us in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq. We are the vulnerable ones. Why can the US break treaties and demand that we obey? How can they speak about democracy, they have no idea what it means if they can also have veto power, and veto power doesn't exist in democracy." On countless occasions I heard them ask, "Can't we all just get along?"

"If the US wants to do something about all the violence and terrorism in the world, how can bombing a country bring understanding and world community? Study our history, we have never invaded, we have been invaded over and over again and still suffer to this day from all these invasions going back hundreds and hundreds of years."

"We may want changes in the laws of our country and we may want freedoms and democracy but we can only achieve those from working towards these changes from within our country, no one from the outside can impose these on us, and especially not the US through unwelcome military aggression. If the US was to bomb us it would unite us against them immediately, just as we were united against Iraq."

"We are just emerging from a very dark tunnel, a failed revolution, 25 years of sanctions and a very horrible Iran/Iraq war. To invade or bomb now would send us backwards and would be a horrible crime against the people of our nation. We like Americans. However, we don't agree with the American Government. Its attitude towards Iran indicates to us that it has un-checked power and rampant corruption which is leading it to behave in an unintelligent manner towards us".

"Iranians are just trying to live their lives and this just sounds to them like a lot of propaganda not worth giving the time of day.... they don't want to be controlled by the American government's stupid thinking".

They laugh that we are taking it seriously, that we traveled all this way to ask these questions. Don't we know that we are just being manipulated by the stupid American propaganda, which wants to make us afraid. They refuse to have their chains yanked by it and made afraid. They are suspicious of the US government's tactics and their timing around Iranian elections and think it is a manipulative ploy. However, they know that this will not affect their votes.

During our meetings with local NGOs we were told about the  destructive consequences of Rumsfeld's comments about the US government working to make changes in Iran through their civil society. This comment has sparked a crackdown on Iranian NGOs, thereby damaging the very movement for change that Rumsfeld referred to.

Iran is neither Iraq nor Afghanistan. Iranians are not Arabs, as every Iranian will remind you. They are much more affluent, with a population of 70 million, 60% of whom under the age of 25. They ask how crazy would the US have to be to invade Iran. The US can't deal with Iraq and Iran is much larger.

All Iranians serve 2 years in the military, which means that there are probably 5 million reservists who could be called back into service within a month. Each year, 2 million Iranians turn 18. Think about it. This is one of the reasons given when I ask them why a US attack is considered to be impossible. They reply, "Does Bush know about who we are, our history and what he would be coming into?"

In the Internet café I have just had a conversation with a woman from NYC who comes to visit her family once a year. She too laughs, "The Iranian people are not afraid of the US and their silly propaganda", she says. "I am not sure why the US is perpetuating this silly talk, but it is out of the question. This is Iran, they can't be that stupid."

It reminds me of what a few other Iranians have said. "Foreign policy is one thing our current administration is doing right, because we don't owe anything to the US and our trading partners are Europe, China and Japan. We can stand up to the bullying tactics of the US and it makes us proud that our government is not letting the US walk all over us, unlike other weak and fearful countries that the US can and does manipulate."