U.S. Offers Iran Quake Aid, Iran Says “No Thanks”
AP Photo/Ali Hamed Haghdoust, Mehr News Agency
As we approach World Humanitarian Day
, there’s something I’d like to note. Something very interesting that happened last week, something the U.S. did to help another country, but something so scarcely reported it almost flew beneath the mainstream news radar. As you may know, Iran recently suffered two large earthquakes. Amid continuing American concerns about Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program, the U.S. offered to send humanitarian aid to help with the quake relief. Of course, since we have sanctions in place against Iran, this presented some difficulties, as this repor
t in The New York Times notes. Sanctions were not the only difficulty, as Iran apparently declined our offer of aid
, curtly stating that if we really wanted to help we could simply end the sanctions. What strikes me most about this is not the back-and-forth between the U.S. and Iran but how the offer of aid itself is so in keeping with the spirit of generosity that the U.S. had displayed so often in the past. It reminds me of something Nobel Laureate Alexander Solzhenitsyn
once said about the American character:
The United States has long shown itself to be the most magnanimous, the most generous country in the world. Wherever there is a flood, an earthquake, a fire, a natural disaster, an epidemic, who is the first to help? The United States. Who helps the most and unselfishly? The United States.
The diplomatic tussle between the U.S. and Iran will no doubt continue, but perhaps the people of Iran will take note of our offer of aid and note as well that the U.S. makes a distinction between the actions of their government and their needs as a people. Governments come and go but the people remain. Perhaps in that realization there is hope that eventually the issues between us can be resolved peacefully.