New York Time’s columnist Nicholas Kristof recently spent some time in Iran and posted some interesting columns (including videos) on the trip: Hugs From Iran, Pinched and Griping in Iran, In Iran, They Want Fun, Fun, Fun, and Not-So-Crazy in Tehran.

He was able to travel without a guide (theoretically at least), which I envy. While I learned a lot from Professor, my guide during my trip, some of the most interesting experiences in the country happened when I was alone. I’m curious what else Kristof was able to come away with that he couldn’t/didn’t fit into his writings and videos.

I was most heartened by his final take, “We can’t do much to nurture progress in Iran, but promoting Internet freedom, shortwave news broadcasts and satellite television all would help. A war would hurt. […] Iran looks childish when it calls America the ‘Great Satan’ or blusters ‘Death to America.’ Let’s not bluster back or operate on caricatures. And let’s not choose bombs over sanctions and undercut the many Iranians who are chipping away at hard-line rule in tiny ways — even by flashing their hair.”

This was not so far off from my take in 2006, of Persians as a group of people that loved their country but hated their government – so long as no one attacked it. Iran is one of the few places I’ve traveled where most people, especially the young and educated, seem to genuinely like Americans. Given time and appropriate encouragement, this will help further U.S. interests far more than bombing Natanz.

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