Thirty Years Later, Time To Reopen Our Embassy In Iran
Thirty years after Iranian extremists stormed the U.S. embassy and held 52 Americans hostage in Iran it is well worth asking: Isn’t it high time we serious consider reconstituting some kind of American presence in Tehran? Today the shell of the old embassy compound remains, its walls scribbled with anti-U.S. invective graffiti. It would be symbolically important to reopen its doors. As Obama as said, we do not punish our enemies by not talking to them. The same goes for not having formal diplomatic relations.
Whether we want to press Iran on the nuclear issue or pressure it to release a trio of American hikers, having a consulate or attaché of some kind on the ground would give us more leverage and a better understanding of the murky world of Iranian politics. It would also relieve us of relying on the Swiss as our intermediaries.
Right now we have scant human intelligence on Iran. Last June U.S. officials were reading about events in Iran just as the rest of us were: from scattered news reports, videos posted on YouTube, and Twitter feeds. To my knowledge, we still have a “listening post” in Dubai, which tries to pump info out of Iranian businessmen. We rely on our German, British and Israeli allies for intelligence. We also rely heavily on the Iranian diaspora, which has been helpful in revealing Iranian nuclear secrets (i.e. Natanz reactor) but is less helpful about human rights abuses (too unreliable).
It is scary how little we know about Iran, considering how much ink we spill fretting out its foreign policy and nuclear shenanigans. “When it comes to Tehran, America is effectively blind,” wrote MIT’s David Weinberg a few years back in Haaretz. Better intelligence would lower the level of uncertainty and get rid of the need to drop bombshells like the one in Pittsburgh, when it was revealed that Iran was developing a clandestine nuclear reactor. It would make our foreign policy vis-à-vis Tehran more predictable and less fly-by-night. It would facilitate more cultural and educational exchanges, which have some effect at boosting bilateral relations in the political sphere (but are less effective when official policy is outwardly hostile). Finally, it would reduce the threat of military hostilities in the Gulf.
True, it might embolden those conservatives who still chant “Death to America” and become a locus of demonstrations, to say nothing of the obvious security concerns (not sure I’d want to be posted there if I were stamping passports as a first-year FSO). That said, most of the embassies we have in that part of the world are bunker-like compounds and relatively safe. Thirty years on, let’s admit that not having a consular or embassy presence in Tehran has not helped our ability to contain or coerce Iran, much less understand its intentions. It’s time to restore some American presence on the ground there and tear down that graffiti-scribbled wall.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.
- The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
- The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
- It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.