The Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who played a prominent role in seizure of the US embassy in the 1970s, attacked Iran’s clerical leadership for their inept policy in dealing with the United States over the issue of atomic development. He urged negotiation with the United States. “the nuclear row should be resolved through direct talks with America to avoid war. Talk about a possible military actions should be taken seriously.” He warned clerics that war with the United States would elicit the same reaction from the Iranian population as did the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. People will not rally around such a war effort since their businesses and homes will be destroyed as a result of American bombing. Montazeri also denounced the clerical leadership for imprisoning dissidents and squelching free speech.
Montazeri, is just one of many such Iranian clerics who seek peace with the United States. History will judge harshly the Bush/Cheney approach of threats to Iran as among the greatest blunders in modern US diplomacy. Iran backed the US after 9/11 and even assisted American forces when they invaded Afghanistan. Iran offered friendship, but Bush ignored their offers and bitterly attacked Iranian leaders. In a sense, Bush is partly responsible for the decline of reform in Iran because he failed to assist those forces when they had some power in the Iranian government. They have been replaced by hard liners. What if Bush had reached out to Iranian reformers in 2001-2002?