The Washington Post reports that America is becoming more popular in Iran, for a surprising reason–surprising to the Post, anyway:
In recent months, Iranians say, the appetite [for better relations with the U.S.] has grown for an unexpected reason: Iranian pilgrims returning from Iraq are spreading admiring stories of their encounters with American troops.
Thousands of Iranians have visited the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala since the war ended. Many have expressed surprise at the respectful and helpful behavior of the U.S. soldiers they met along the way.
Leila Araki, waiting in the back of a Renault sedan as her husband peddled shoes, recalled that her mother-in-law somehow lost her money on the road to Karbala. She said a U.S. soldier reached into his pocket and handed her taxi fare back to Najaf.
“This is something quite contrary to what we have been told about Americans,” said Araki, 31, who was told of Americans flashing thumbs-up and saying, “Good, Iranians.”
“They were really surprised. I would never be this respected and well-treated even in my country, by my countrymen.”
This is not the first time that American soldiers have been our country’s most effective ambassadors. It is interesting to contrast the Iranians’ experience of American soldiers with John Kerry’s depiction of his Vietnam-era “brothers” as mass-murdering torturers and rapists. I suspect that this contrast is due more to Kerry’s skewed perceptions (and political opportunism) than to any change in the character of young Americans.