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Now is the Time for Wrestling Diplomacy

This week the Team USA wrestling team was in Iran doing what they came to do, i.e., wrestling. At first, the Iranians were not going to let them in. But then they relented and the team did go. The story was covered on some of the network news shows and was written up in the New York Times this Sunday:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/18/world/middleeast/iran-us-wrestling-team-jordan-burroughs-kyle-snyder.html

The headline was – Iran hails wrestlers from the U.S.

The American wrestlers were cheered wherever they went. Some said that they had never been as popular at home. That was exactly what we experienced when we were in Iran. People couldn’t get enough of us and everybody was friendly. As a wrestler was heard saying, “It’s hard to believe that the Iranians are anti-American.”

The fact is that Iranians are not anti-American at all. Without getting into all the political grievances between our two countries, grievances that have existed since prior to 1953, when the CIA-run Operation Ajax helped overthrow the democratically elected government of Iran, it would be fair to say that the United States is much more popular in Iran than Iran is popular in this country. The Iranians seem more capable of distinguishing between the government and the people.

At the present time, because of Mr. Trump’s irrational attempt to keep people from seven predominantly Muslim countries out of the United States, the Iranians have reciprocated, at least for now, and are not processing American tourist visas. This may change at any time but we don’t know when that time will be. All we can do is hope that the Iranians act more rationally than we are acting and stop cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Keeping out American tourists is not likely to help the Iranians and it is disappointing people in the U.S who want to travel to Iran and see what it is like for themselves.

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