Kiroku Hanai of The Japan Times is critical of U.S. policy toward Iran and believes it undermines the Middle East peace process:
Olive branch to Iran overdue, By Kiroku Hanai, Japan Times: A new Iranian government under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be inaugurated Aug. 4. While outgoing President Mohammad Khatami is a moderate, Ahmadinejad is a hardline conservative whose relations with the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush are likely to be tense. As this is undesirable for stability in the Middle East, it is hoped that Japan and the European Union will do their best to help avert a conflict between Washington and Tehran. In his State of the Union address … Bush named Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as an "axis of evil." ... Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice ... included Iran in what Washington called the six "outposts of tyranny." … It is hard to understand why the U.S. takes such a hostile approach to Iran. ... Although Iran released all the hostages 444 days after the crisis began, Washington has continued its freeze on Iranian assets in the U.S. and its economic sanctions against the country under the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.
To justify its hostile policy toward Iran, Washington cites the lack of democracy in the country. … In the last presidential election, though, the council showed unprecedented flexibility. … Two conservatives entered the first-ever presidential runoff, in which a clergyman and ex-president lost -- results nobody had expected. Egypt … will hold its first multicandidate presidential election in September. Saudi Arabia, the most loyal U.S. ally, is also the most laggard in democratization. ... And Saudi women have no voting rights. Among the Middle East countries, Iran has some democratic elements in its political system. The Iranian revolution has promoted, among other things, the education of women. ... At government-run medical universities, women account for more than 50 percent of total enrollment. This is a great accomplishment in the Middle East, where the education of women is largely neglected.
Washington often accuses Tehran of trying to export an Islamic revolution by sponsoring foreign terrorist groups, as if it was oblivious to the fact that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency assisted in the overthrow of the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1951. The CIA also aided the overthrow of the Chilean government of President Salvador Allende in 1973. Both governments were democratically elected. Washington's policy of labeling Iran a "rogue state" to isolate it internationally undermines the Middle East peace process. I believe the U.S. should reconsider its policy toward Iran … In an opinion poll of Tehran citizens taken in 2002, more than 70 percent of the respondents favored reconciliation with the U.S. Most Iranians presumably are fed up with the diplomatic standoff that has continued for 26 years since the Iranian revolution. ... The question is whether the U.S. is ready to show generosity as a major power toward Iran to settle the problem…
If this is how our friends view us, as a country that must be talked out of picking a fight with other countries, then whether our actions are justified or not, we are losing the political battle on the world stage. No matter how well intentioned we are, we cannot bully the entire world into changing according to our wishes. We need a new approach.