Iran is run by nutty, dangerous theocrats who would nuke Israel, Europe and North America if given half a chance.
There is truth and fiction in both master narratives, but one truth in a meta-narrative is that the peoples of both countries are saturated in negative information about the other people. Serious progress will be very tough under these broken conditions.
Let's fix this.
First is a brainstorm of policy suggestions that might break the logjam or loosen pieces of it. Some are easy, some are hard, some are tried and some are outside the box--a box which has produced failure so far and may need to expand. Seize the opportunities as they pop up and create more of them.
- The US should apologize for its role in the 1953 overthrow of Iran's democratically elected leader and for uncritical military support for the Shah. A simple apology without qualification, equivocation, justification or even explanation is best.
- Iran should apologize for kidnapping 52 American in 1979 and holding them for 14 months. Again, don't couch it in contextuals that sound like excuses or justifications.
- The US should initiate discussions about negotiating an end to any weapons-grade materiels produced from any Iranian centrifuges, and the US should offer to dismantle 200 or more nuclear weapons now in the US nuclear arsenal, as well as lift all US sanctions against Iran. These conditions should involve the IAEA inspections and possibly UN inspections teams on the soil of both countries to monitor compliance.
- The two countries should each invite the other to open an embassy with the guarantee of the safety of the personnel that is backed by enormous collateral. The 2011 Obama initiative to maintain an online embassy is a good gesture and not enough; it is time for reciprocity and advancements.
- The US should pull its military out of the ring around Iran as Iran moves concomitantly to affirm human and civil rights for its people. Iran has too long used US military dominance as an excuse to oppress domestic dissent and the US has too long used Iranian repression to justify its military encirclement of Iran.
- Educational initiatives should be undertaken to document and highlight the many strongly positive aspects of the Iran-US historical record, while acknowledging mistakes by both nations. The record is long, complex, and full of admirable exchanges. Citizens from both societies should learn of this.
- The US should immediately reassure Iran that it has zero intentions of attacking Iran but rather of negotiating an end to the long crisis that has waxed and waned between the two nations.
- Iran should immediately reassure the US that Iran has zero intention of attacking the US.
- The US should reassure Iran that it will not attack Iranian allies, such as Syria or Hezbollah in Lebanon, even if the US opposes them in principle and with other nonmilitary methods.
- Iran should reassure the US that it has no intention of attacking Israel or any US friend in the region, even if it will continue to have conflict with those nations. Reducing fear reduces aggression which reduces fear which...
- Renew cultural and educational exchanges between the countries.
- Generate grassroots support for one or more of these policies in both countries and focus on one success.
- Quietly work on the other initiatives until they are 'ready for prime time.'
- Build coalitions of middle class and working class support for these initiatives, beginning with the fastest.
- Go from easy to hard, incrementalizing the goals until they are winnable within short months, not a year or more.
- Celebrate and integrate every victory, no matter how small, as much as possible into each populace.