Code Pink delegation members Medea Benjamin, Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese traveled to Iran and stayed in Iran for 10 days. This is what they experienced and said about Iran at The Real News Network’s studio in honor of International Women’s Day.
MARGARET FLOWERS: I went there to see for myself, to see Iran. We don’t get a lot of information about Iran here in the United States. And to make connections with people of Iran. And we had great success at that. We also went to the University of Tehran, where we met with world studies students, some who were doing American studies. And because of the travel ban in the United States they can’t come to the United States to see it firsthand. There’s also very little exchange. It’s difficult for them to provide books from the United States, because even when the authors agree to have the book translated, then they can’t make the financial transaction with the publisher to complete that contract. Iranians love Americans
So spending time with the students, and just seeing Iran proved me that it’s a country with such a deep history and such a mature society. It just struck me what a real loss it is to people in the United States to not be able to have a cultural and academic exchange with Iranians.
I felt safe the entire time that I was there. And in fact, people went out of their way to welcome us. It’s the complete opposite of what we hear. Iranians love Americans
You felt like a real democracy there
KEVIN ZEESE: I think we still have a lot of work to do. I think we’ve made some great first steps, built some excellent contacts. And I was very impressed with how much Iranians love Americans. people said it to me so many times, whether I was in a bazaar, at a shop, or at the University of Iran with students or academics, or with government officials. It was all so positive. They really want to have good relationship with the United States, and they’re so upset that they don’t. And so I think there is an opportunity for us to really work toward achieving a positive relationship. Iranians love Americans
I do think it is like–Tehran, Iran is 2,500 years old. I mean, it’s 2000 years old. It’s 10 times as old as we are. We’re an adolescent bully to this really mature country with. In addition of being a country for 2,000 years, 7,000 years of civilized history and a very complicated government. We went to the Parliament. And just like our Parliament fights about the budget, they were 11 days from the budget deadline, and they were shouting at each other in the Parliament about various aspects of the budget.
You felt like a real democracy there, real debate. And sure, like our democracy is flawed, theirs is flawed, too. Limited debate is common in our country, as well as theirs. But there is debate and there are lots of checks and balances. I think we understand a lot about Iran there and a lot we can learn. And if we had a more positive relationship we could probably help each other a lot. Iranians love Americans
It’s like two ships passing at night
When we were at the Peace Museum they showed us the history of the Iraq war (1980-1988) and the U.S. role in that. The U.S. encouraged the Iraq invasion. They attempt to take land from Iran. The U.S. provided Iraq with chemical weapons, the precursors of chemical weapons, with intelligence information. The U.S really was a partner in the Iraq war that killed a million people. It’s having an impact on the current generation of not looking favorably upon the U.S.
And we later went to the cemetery, where thousands of martyrs, they call them, are buried. And the cemetery is full of those martyrs. One woman went and came up to our group and said that her only son, died in the war. and she has been coming to the cemetery every day since. This is a country that does not want war. And yet we have people like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump talking about war all the time. It’s like two ships passing at night. Iran wants to find a way to peace. They’ve made efforts to do that. They negotiate in good faith. They’ve lived up to the agreement on the nuclear agreement. And yet here we have Trump, Pompeo and Bolton threatening war and trying to conduct regime change operations against Iran. It’s absurd, sad and embarrassing. Iranians love Americans