(14 of 15)
The options for U.S. policy toward Iran are limited. So long as the hostages are in captivity, Washington must use every possible form of diplomatic and economic pressure to get them released. The Carter Administration has all but said that military action may well be necessary if the hostages are killed. But if they are released unharmed, many foreign policy experts think that the U.S. would be well advised not to retaliate for the seizure but simply to cut all ties with Iran and ignore the country for a while — unless, of course, the Soviets move in. Primarily because of the intimate U.S. involvement with the Shah, Iran has turned so anti-American that just about any Washington attempt to influence events there is likely to backfire; certainly none of Iran's contending factions can afford to be thought of as pro-U.S. Iran needs a demonstration that the U.S. has not the slightest wish to dominate the country.
The U.S. must try to contain the spread of Khomeini-inspired anti-Americanism in the Middle East. The best way :o do that would be to mediate successfully the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations, to ensure that they will lead to genuine autonomy for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. The degree to which the Palestinian problem has inGaza. The degree to which the Palestinian problem has inflamed passions even among Arabs who consider themselves pro-U.S. is not at all understood by Americans. Says Faisal Alhegelan, Saudi Ambassador to the U.S.: "All you have to do is grant the right of Palestinian self-determination, and you will find how quickly the entire Arab world will stack up behind Washington."
There are also some lessons the U.S. can learn that here are also some lessons the U.S. can learn that might help keep future Third World revolutions from taking an anti-American turn. First, suggests Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard professor of government, the U.S. should stop focusing exclusively on the struggle between the U.S. and Communism and pay more attention to the aspirations of nations that have no desire for alliance with either side.
Says Hoffmann: "To me, the biggest meaning of Iran is that it is the first major international crisis that is not an East-West crisis, and for that very reason we find ourselves much less able to react. There is very little attention given to the problems of revolutionary instability and internal discontent. Americans don't study any of this, and when such events happen, we are caught by surprise."
A corollary thought is that the U.S. must avoid getting tied too closely to anti-Communist "strongmen" who are detested by their own people. Says Selig Harrison: "We should not be so committed that we become hostage to political fortune. We should have contact with all the forces in these countries, and we should not regard any