Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, best known for sharing the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden, joined Glenn on radio this morning for a full hour. While discussing current events, Glenn asked Greenwald what his take was on the Obama administration's negotiations with Iran.
While many have been critical of the negotiation, Greenwald said that the United States has a long history of allying with countries that have oppressive regimes, most notably Saudi Arabia, and that Iran has "more enlightened" government compared to others in the region.
"Our closest allies in the world are the most oppressive regimes on the planet, right? We sit down with Saudi Arabia. Obama just announced we were lifting our freeze of transferring to arms to the regime in Egypt. In Qatar and the United Emirates, Bahrain, the most oppressive regimes are the ones with whom we work most closely. So the idea we are sitting down with the table is a oppressive regime has been the staple of American foreign policy for decades," Greenwald said.
"But it shouldn't be," Glenn said.
"But doing that with Iran, compared to those other regimes, actually they are a more enlightened, more progressuve regime, certainly than Saudi Arabia, certainly than the gulf states. Women are an important part of their government, they are more educated, there's more secular rights there. Iran is a horribly repress I have regime, but compared to some of our best allies - I'd rather live in Iran," he said.
"Secondly, of course, we have higher expectations for political rights when it comes to states in the United States than we do foreign countries. Foreign countries have the right to create their own set of political principles and we shouldn't go around demanding that political rights we want here at home are the same ones that have to happen in Iran as well. I don't think that's our place."
Glenn argued that America no longer stands for anything, and our alliance with Saudi Arabi violates our founding pricnipels as much as our potential alliance with Iran.
"It's not our place," Glenn said, "but that's what's gotten us into this trouble around the world. Nobody knows what our principles are, because we get into bed with Saudi Arabia, so what the hell do we stand for?"
Greenwald then went into the background of a lot of the anti-American attitude in Iran.
"And people make a big deal of the death to America chanting, which happens in Iran. That is a disturbing thing, right? You are an American and you're hearing death to America. Now, most people understand that rhetoric and actions are not the same. Iran cannot actually impose death on America and hasn't actually tried. They're rationale actors."
"There's a background to that, as you said. Iran had a democratically elected government. The CIA overthrew that government in the 1950s and imposed this had heinous dictator called the Shah of Iran, who oppressed people in Iran violently and brutally for decades. And everyone knew it was the United States that supported him, just like we support the Saudi monarchs. If you are an Iranian citizen, or American citizen, and if you had some brutal dictator being propped up by a foreign power, of course you would be hostile to that foreign power. So I think it's not a question of ever blaming ourselves, but I think rational adults think about their own actions and how it affects the rest of the world."
Ultimately, Greenwald believes that despite the region being filled with religious extremists, there are enough "rationale actors" to sit down and negotiate. After all, the alternative could mean endless war in the Middle East.
"That region, like most regions, is filled with lots of extremists. The irony is now in Iraq and in Syria we actually are fighting as allies with Iran against ISIS. Just as was true in Afghanistan when Taliban became the principle concern of the United States in the wake of 9/11. Iran hated the Taliban and gave us all kinds of assistance, because they understood Afghanistan and also feared the Taliban, because they fear Sunni extremism because that's been one of their enemy as far as long time as we. If you look at the region, yes, it's true, there's lots of religious rhetoric that's disturbing that comes from Iranian Mullahs. But if you look at their actions in the world, I do think there's a basis of rationality to be able to sit down. What is the alternative? I mean, the United States cannot possibly afford to fight a war with a country three times the size of Iraq."
While Glenn didn't fully support Greenwald's opinion on Iran, they did both agree on the dangers of endless war.
"It becomes the policy of the country, it destroys financial security, it means that we essentially are a country that goes around trying to rule the world," Greenwald said.