Writing From Tehran—On March 20, at the start of the Persian New Year, President Obama delivered a speech offering "the promise of a new beginning" in relations between the U.S. and Iran. But Obama also told Iranian leaders that the right to be part of the world's "community of nations" came with responsibilities and could not be achieved "through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions." An aide to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted this Op-Ed article in response to Obama's speech.
President George W. Bush's actions during his time in office generated hatred and mistrust of the U.S. throughout the world. But in fairness, he was also one of the most honest American presidents, because his deeds and words matched.
America's Democratic Party has historically been less honest than its rival Republican Party. I hope President Obama can change this approach and that he will turn out to be the most honest U.S. president of all.
Mr. Obama's recent message to Iran on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, contained some encouraging signs -- and some negative ones.
The president expressed a willingness to talk openly with Iran's leaders. This willingness is promising. The Islamic Republic of Iran appreciates friendly behavior that stems from respect and courtesy toward other cultures and nations.
We support justice and humane ethics in international relations. On the other hand, we condemn arrogant, bullying and insulting behavior.
The U.S. has a long history of interfering in Iran's domestic affairs, starting with its backing of a coup against the lawful government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953. Later, your country provided all- out support to the dictatorial regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi. The U.S. nurtured counter-revolutionaries plotting against the Islamic Republic of Iran and froze assets and properties owned by Iran in the U.S. and Europe.
There is evidence that your country also encouraged the dictatorial Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to attack Iran militarily in 1980. During the eight years of war that followed that action, the U.S. interfered in favor of Hussein, downing an Iranian passenger plane and imposing widespread economic and trade sanctions on Iran.
For decades, the U.S. has heaped insulting invective on our nation and made continuous threats of toppling its lawful government. It has put obstacles in the way of Iran's progress in technological and scientific fields.
For all these reasons, Mr. Obama's claims of responsibility and honesty must ultimately be put to the test.
We are, however, pleased to observe that Mr. Obama seems to be attempting to rehabilitate the tainted image of the United States.
Mr. Obama's efforts to replace aggressive rhetoric in official U.S. statements with the language of peace and mutual respect is a step forward. If this change of tone is also manifested practically in the official policies of the U.S., it will be an important step toward remedying the impaired image of the U.S. in the eyes of other nations.
The U.S. has too frequently in past decades resorted to violence, war and bloodshed around the world, in part because of its leaders' desire for hegemony and in part because of Zionism's manipulation of U.S. administrations.
Mr. Obama has talked about his commitment to creating constructive diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Iran. He must first begin dressing the deep and old wounds inflicted on the Iranian nation and start to correct the misunderstandings created by the misconduct of previous U.S. administrations in their actions against Iran.
In his Nowruz message, Mr. Obama on the one hand offers an appreciation of Iran's civilization, culture, art, music, literature and innovation. But on the other, he accuses Iran of terror and pursuing weapons of mass destruction. These two antagonistic approaches are mutually exclusive. Mr. Obama needs to break with the wrongheaded approach of previous administrations and promote peaceful policies toward Iran.
The Iranian nation, in keeping with true Islamic precepts, does not covet the territory of other countries and has not attacked any other country. We have always acted only in defense of our land. We wish other countries well, and we even pray for our foes. We hate death and destruction -- and wish prosperity and a better life for all nations.
Our Iranian civilization, culture, beliefs, traditions and Islamic values are incompatible with terror, war and bloodshed. Mr. Obama should take note that the era of gaining superiority through weaponry and state-sponsored terrorism has expired. The world must move forward ruled by divine values, rationality, morality and respect for culture.
Mr. Obama expressed his country's willingness to see our Islamic Republic take its true position in the international community. This new approach by the United States is appreciated, but we would note that Iran already occupies a distinguished position in the international community. President Ahmadinejad is one of the most beloved dignitaries in the world, and freedom-loving nations in all corners of the Earth love Iran.
The policies of previous U.S. administrations led to a rise in hatred, anger and worries. In all corners of the world, it is worth noting, the only flags being set ablaze belong to the U.S. and the occupying Zionist regime.
President Obama has proclaimed a policy of "change," and the American people have embraced it. But to remedy its image in the world, the U.S. needs to truly change its past methods.
Change is mandatory for the U.S. administration. For as history demonstrates, either you change, or you are forced to change.
Ali Akbar Javanfekr is the presidential advisor for press affairs to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.