Iran is indeed the largest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world. But this does not necessarily need to be the case. Until 1979, Iran was a friendly monarchy that was in many ways one of the most modern and Westernized countries in the Middle East. Things do change and they can change in the future. If Iran’s aggression is treated as the worldwide threat that it indeed is, then in another decade or so, we can be visiting downtown Tehran the way that people will be visiting Dubai in the coming years.
Iran is a perfect example of a country that should serve as an example of better or worse alternatives. Over the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s, the Shah of Iran was the friendly dictator in Iran. He was popular among many and hated by many others. Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford all dealt with him as an ally in the region that stemmed the threats from more radical elements in Iran. But in 1979, while Jimmy Carter was President, the big shift happened. The coup in Iran by the Ayatollahs was successful and the Shah was deposed. This failure of international diplomacy cannot solely be pinned on Jimmy Carter even though it happened on his watch. There are internal workings in these countries that cannot be controlled merely via the US foreign policy. However, the job of the United States is to insure that radical elements, like ISIS do not gain a major foothold in areas that threaten US interests.
The real question is what are the US interests in the Middle East. The Obama administration favored a weakened Israel and a strengthened Islamic presence West of the Jordan river. Any statements from President Obama about Israel being our ally were then followed with major concessions to Iran. So, it was clear that Obama’s interests were diametrically opposed to Israeli interests. But President Trump has been fantastic on the level of dealing with Iran. He has avoided major armed conflict, though he took out his top general. Then, he leveled crushing economic pressure in order to stop the Iranian threat to Israel and other US allies in the region. On the Middle East, Donald Trump deserves an A. This has been one of his best handled foreign policy initiatives.