A Media Artist's Response To Failing Diplomacy

When BriAnna Olson's pacifist views were confronted by an adamant American couple, she decided to heed their challenge and head to Tehran-- the epicenter of the Axis of Evil nation.

Amongst a landscape of failed diplomacy and media smear campaigns, she and fellow artist Michael Pope found a society far more alive and hospitable than they'd ever been led to believe.

Like jesters of a modern-day Magellan, they've returned with stories and insights to a culture few American's have seen first hand.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Iranians' = Pro-American

When Michael and I introduced ourselves as Americans in Iran (which was always, by the way, we never even considered claiming we were Canadian), we were always embraced with a sincere love and admiration. We were taken a back... in fact, we started to go out of our way to let people know we were from New York because we knew that people would light up and open up far faster than if we were from, say, Australia. "We love Americans", we'd hear often. Way different than traveling through the Czech Republic, where it was almost impossible to avoid being lectured on the incompetence of George Bush.


The following was lifted straight from here, check out bibijon's page on Iran's Image:

Middle East is dotted with anti-American populations led by unstable but friendly governments. The exception is Iran, with a pro-American population governed by a stable regime openly critical of American self-defeating policies in the region. Although, on cooperating with U.S. efforts against al-Qaida, there was little daylight between Iranians and their government.

Based on surveys taken in Iran in early 2008 by WorldPublicOpinion.org and Terror Free Tomorrow:

“While Iranians, like many other Muslim populations, have negative opinions of the U.S. government and U.S. foreign policy, they have a mildly positive image of the American people, and believe "common ground" can be found between the two societies. Most Iranians desire closer ties with the U.S., including more trade, investment and tourism.”

The jaundiced opinion of U.S. policies, however, is not an affliction exclusive to 'Muslim populations'. For example, as Cathy Young, the contributing editor of the Reason magazine, puts it: “A staggering 43 percent of Russians agreed in a poll last year that “one of the goals of the foreign policy of the United States is the total destruction of Russia.””


The New York Times: The Best of Enemies? By Thomas L. Friedman, Jun 12, 2002

Quick quiz: Which Muslim Middle East country held spontaneous candlelight vigils in sympathy with Americans after Sept. 11? Kuwait? No. Saudi Arabia? No. Iran? Yes. You got it! You win a free trip to Iran. And if you come you'll discover not only a Muslim country where many people were sincerely sympathetic to America after Sept. 11, but a country where so many people on the street are now talking about -- and hoping for -- a reopening of relations with America that the ruling hard-liners had to take the unprecedented step two weeks ago of making it illegal for anyone to speak about it in public.


International Herald Tribune: Many in Iran bear the U.S. no ill will by Michael Slackman, Feb 11, 2008

America’s image in the Middle East is arguably as low as it has ever been. From the occupation of Iraq to the Israeli bombing of Lebanon to the prisons of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the United States has been cited in polls as the gravest threat to peace in the region. But Iran is different, even the Iran of bearded fundamentalists …

Generally speaking, Iranians like Americans, not just American products, which remain very popular, but Americans. While that is not entirely new - Iranians on an individual level have long expressed desires to restore relations between the two countries - the sentiment seems much more out in the open now.


  1. It's amusing. I always point out to my european internet friends that I am very well aware of how incompetent Bush has been. I usually then ask them if they don't have some incompetent leader of their own that they should be worrying about. One of the things I heard you say at some point that has left the most mark on my memory is how an Iranian told you that Bush & Ahmadinejad are "cut from the same cloth." Polyester, I assume...

  2. Polyester! (snicker) Yeah- the Iranians I met were quick to point to a number of similarities. End time beliefs, the cowboy "man's man" thing, support of the more religious crowd.

    Did I ever mention that on more than one occasion someone said "If you guys hadn't elected George Bush, we'd probably have a way more moderate president"?

    It's sort of a hardline thing-- if your playground bully represents you... then we gonna elect ours.

  3. i'm iranian and i love america
    i want to know we hate this goverment
    i ask you to search about the anicent persia...
    about great cyrus and iranian art and ...
    belive all iranians hte mullahs and call him internal arabs (because arabs in past attack iran and destoyed our country)
    sorry my english is not very good