Originally appeared on The American Conservative.
USA Today published a very extensive report on conditions inside Iran this week. Here is a description of the response to the reimposition of U.S. sanctions:
Still, despite rhetoric from the Trump administration and some exiled Iranians – as well as praise for Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the overwhelming sentiment on Iran’s streets is not revolutionary fervor but fatigue over decades of failed Iranian-U.S. diplomacy and the resulting economic struggles for ordinary Iranians [bold mine-DL].
“We waited for so long for good news between our two nations,” a woman, 37, in a coffee shop told USA TODAY as she despaired over the renewed sanctions and breakdown in relations.
The Trump administration doesn’t appreciate and certainly doesn’t care that reneging on the nuclear deal and moving to strangle Iran’s economy have dashed the hopes of most Iranians for a better future. Iran hawks hope to rile up the Iranian people through increased hardship and deprivation, but no nation ever responds to collective punishment this way. US policy towards Iran is sowing enmity between our two countries for years and decades to come, and both of our countries will be worse off because of it. For all of the administration’s complaints about Iran’s “malign behavior” in the region, they have made a point of penalizing Iran even though it is abiding by the nuclear deal. Iran has responded constructively on the nuclear issue, and it is being strangled with sanctions anyway.
It will come as no surprise that Iranians don’t want the US meddling in their politics:
Although demonstrators in Iran may be occasionally emboldened to call for the death of Rouhani and Khamenei, they do not necessarily view support from Trump administration regime-change hawks such as national security adviser John Bolton as the answer.
“Just look at our neighbors, Iraq and Afghanistan. After 6 p.m., you can’t go out. It’s too dangerous. This is what happens when Americans intervene in other countries,” said Mohammad, a merchant at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, referring to two countries where the United States has spent billions of dollars on military occupations and long-term nation-building missions. “The reality is that we don’t want the US interfering with our problems.”
Most Iranians can see very clearly from our government’s track record that our interference tends to make other countries’ problems worse. They understandably want none of that for their own country. Our meddling is destructive and therefore it is naturally unwelcome.
The deleterious effects of sanctions are already being felt by ordinary Iranians:
Inside Iran, there is a mixture of anger and weariness at Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions. Though Washington insists the sanctions are not aimed at Iran’s civilians, only its government and nuclear program, Iranians find that line of reasoning hard to accept; even though the sanctions don’t target them directly, restrictions on Iran’s use of the global financial system have led to severe shortages of cancer drugs, certain food supplies and key consumer goods. They also have led to an economic crisis that has severely affected salaries, prices and jobs.
“Please tell Mr. Trump that it will only get worse for ordinary Iranian workers and their families,” said Fereshteh Dastpak, head of Iran’s National Carpet Center. Dastpak lamented the likely effect of the sanctions on the 1.5 million people who earn their living in Iran’s rug industry. Nearly $100 million worth of Persian carpets were exported to the USA last year amid the lifting of sanctions tied to the nuclear accord negotiated during President Barack Obama’s tenure. The year before the deal? There were no carpets imported. “Trump needs to reconsider,” Dastpak said.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s Iran policy just keeps getting worse. While administration officials pay lip service to the welfare of the Iranian people, they obviously don’t care that their policies are impoverishing a country of eighty million people. They have no interest in what Iranians affected by their policies say about those policies, and they aren’t bothered by the damage that they’re doing to the entire population.
Daniel Larison is a senior editor at The American Conservative, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and is a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Dallas. Follow him on Twitter. This article is reprinted from The American Conservative with permission.