Magazine article Newsweek

The Editor's Desk

Magazine article Newsweek

The Editor's Desk

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Meacham

Our history with Iran is, to say the least, a checkered one. In the 1950s, under President Eisenhower, a CIA operation restored a pro-American shah to power; in the 1960s, the Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled; in the 1970s, the Islamic Revolution toppled the shah, Khomeini took control of the country and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, helping elect Ronald Reagan and George Bush (an event that made the presidency of George W. Bush a possibility), and in the 1980s, the United States supported Saddam Hussein in his long war against Iran. For a generation, the mention of Iran tended to evoke images of protesters chanting "Death to America!"

As the new century began, then, Tehran and Washington did not enjoy the cheeriest of connections. When Osama bin Laden struck America, however, Iran saw a chance to build up some good will by reaching out. For a few months in the autumn of 2001, we were allies in the war against the Taliban. But by January 2002, when President Bush decided to link Iran to Iraq and North Korea in the Axis of Evil, we were back in the twilight and now, in the early months of 2007, we are in the midst of a hidden war not only in diplomatic terms but on the ground in Iraq.

As our cover story, written by Michael Hirsh and Maziar Bahari with reporting from a team that included Babak Dehghanpisheh, Christopher Dickey, Mark Hosenball and John Barry, explains, the Iranian regime's nuclear ambitions and its alleged role in arming militants in Iraq are elements in a compound of emerging conflict. Drawing parallels with the administration's drive to depose Saddam, skeptics worry that Bush is secretly planning to attack Iran. In fact, our reporting suggests that the truth is more unsettling than the conspiracy theories. According to our team, it is likelier that the two mutually suspicious nations will stumble into bloodshed in some kind of unexpected clash that could speedily spiral beyond our control and, like so much else in the region, prove impervious to our will. …

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