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Iran

Who Will Iranian-Americans Vote For?

Iranian women hold an anti-American poster bearing a cartoon of U.S. President Barack Obama outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 2.
Iranian women hold an anti-American poster bearing a cartoon of U.S. President Barack Obama outside the former U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 2.

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U.S. President Barack Obama and his Republican Party challenger Mitt Romney have both vowed to defend Israel and prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
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By Golnaz Esfandiari
On election day in the United States, Portland-based journalist Goudarz Eghtedari will abstain from voting; D.C.-based businessman Shahriar Etminani will cast his vote for Republican candidate Mitt Romney; and California-based attorney Mike Kazemi will vote for the Democratic incumbent, Barack Obama.

The three differ when it comes to who they think should be the next president of the United States, but they share one thing in common -- all are Iranian-Americans who moved to the United States shortly before or after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

They are among the estimated 1.5 million Iranians who live in the United States, and their votes tell a lot about how one of the campaign's major foreign-policy issues has played out among the relatively small, but significant, voting bloc.

For many Iranian-Americans, how the next administration deals with Tehran is a key determinant of how they will cast their ballots on November 6.

Both Obama and Romney say that Iran's possession of a nuclear weapon is not an option. And both candidates have said that military strikes aimed at curbing Iran's controversial nuclear activities should be a last resort.

But the differences between the two candidates when it comes to Iranian nukes are in the details.

Obama has said that as long as he is president, Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon, while Romney has emphasized that a "nuclear-capable Iran" is unacceptable, even if it doesn't actually possess the weapon.

Obama has touted his role in implementing "the strongest sanctions against Iran in history" in an effort to persuade Tehran to abandon its controversial nuclear program. The sanctions are widely believed to have crippled the Iranian economy and facilitated the collapse of the national currency.

U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and Republican candidate Mitt Romney largely agree on the broad issues of Iranian policy.
U.S. President Barack Obama (right) and Republican candidate Mitt Romney largely agree on the broad issues of Iranian policy.
Meanwhile, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, has said that he would have put harsh sanctions in place earlier and has pledged that, if elected, he would further tighten the sanctions.

'We Haven't Engaged'

For journalist Eghtedari, neither candidate is pursuing an Iran policy that would win his vote. He says it is painful to watch from afar how the sanctions are harming average Iranian citizens while the country's leaders are left unscathed.

Eghtedari campaigned in 2008 for Obama but is now feeling disillusioned and frustrated with what he describes as a lack of real change in the United States' relationship with Iran.

"We need to really engage them and we haven't engaged them," Eghtedari says. "Engagement is something that Europe did in the 1990s with Iran, [to] be economically involved with them. We have to open up ourselves and get involved so we have a ground place to be able to influence the situation in the country."
Romney has the same policies that have led to the expensive, bloody, and unnecessary war in Iraq and failure in Afghanistan.

But for businessman Etminani, engaging the Islamic republic is out of the question. He wants to see an uprising that would bring the regime down.

His vote for Romney is very much determined by the U.S. reaction to the mass street protests that followed the disputed reelection of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad. Obama initially said the United States was troubled by the violence that accompanied the protests. Later, he condemned the beating and imprisonment of protesters.

Etminani believes Obama's actions were insufficient. He says Obama decided against offering direct support to the Iranian opposition movement because his administration hoped to negotiate with the Islamic republic and didn't want "to antagonize" the regime.

The next time Iranian people rise up, Etminani says, he wants to see "tangible help."

"But based on what President Obama has done, it’s pretty much guaranteed that he will not do that because he's made zero indications that he is willing to do that," Etminani says. "So you have a chance of zero or a small possibility. Based on the last three years, I think it is more likely that Governor Romney will take that route than President Obama would."

Step Backward

Attorney Kazemi disagrees. He believes that Obama's policies toward Iran have been relatively effective in raising the heat on the regime and backing it into a corner.

He would view a Romney presidency as a step backward.

"Governor Romney has the same policies that have led to the expensive, bloody, and unnecessary war in Iraq and failure in Afghanistan," Kazemi says.

Kazemi believes if Romney were elected the chances of war with Iran would likely increase.
We need to really engage them and we haven't engaged them.

"I believe that war would be a silly approach or outright stupid because it is, on the one hand, exactly what the regime in Iran desires," Kazemi says. "Because as soon as the bomb drops, that would lead to some kind of consolidation of their power and further suppression of the [opposition] movement in Iran under the banner of national security and national interests."

A 2011 survey by the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA), which polls the Iranian-American community, found that there had been a significant decline in the diaspora's opinion of Obama when it came to his handling of Iran. Despite this, however, 55 percent of Iranian-Americans indicated that they were inclined to vote for Obama in the 2012 election.

And while the United States' Iran policy is a key issue for Iranian-Americans, U.S. domestic issues such as the economy are also likely to play a determining factor in their vote.

Differences In Voting Patterns

Morad Ghorban, director of government affairs and policy at PAAIA, says the 2009 Iranian election and its aftermath led to a spike in the interest of the Iranian-American community in Iran and the U.S. policy toward Iran.

The situation appears to have changed since.

"When we asked the same question again in 2011, those numbers have basically evened out with each other so about half say domestic issues are the most important, the other half say Iran-U.S. related issues are the most important issue."

Maboud Ansari, a professor of sociology at William Paterson University in New Jersey, says there is a difference in the voting preferences of first- and second-generation Iranian-Americans.

"It seems that the second-generation Iranians, who make up about half of the Iranian-American community, will vote for Obama because of job security and also because he didn't pursue a war policy," Ansari says. "The second-generation Iranian-Americans are in favor of creative diplomacy."

Ansari, who has authored several books on Iranian-Americans, says the vote of first-generation Iranian-Americans is likely to be divided, with some voting Republican and others for Obama because of his health-care policies.
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Smith from: Canada
November 02, 2012 16:29
By the headline I thought I am going to read some data and a poll on Iranian American position. Instead here we are. Three hypothetical persons who amount to nothing. Journalism has sunk so low in recent years.
In Response

by: Arash from: Prague
November 03, 2012 15:38
Well said. Most of waht you read in this site about Iran is hollow and often risible.

by: Ali from: MD
November 02, 2012 16:35
Good report, Miss Esfandiari. I'm Iranian American and I will vote for Obama eventhough I don't agree with his sanction policy.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
November 02, 2012 22:30
you should seriously rethink your position. Mitt Romney will do the job best to further trash Axis of Evil (US government+Israel+Saudi Arabia+Pakistan).. Look how good George W Bush did! Even after 4 years US is still in deep poop, all thanks to the brilliant Republican minds, Romney among them

by: Anonymous
November 02, 2012 18:57
Obama!
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
November 03, 2012 00:31
Sure.Obama bin Osama,muslims will always vote for a muslin and his Hillarious Hillary -the Godmother of the Muslim brotherhoods.Bad old Mitten didnt specify how many women for a man,and that`ll cost him the presidency,shame on all republicans!!!

by: William from: Harris
November 02, 2012 21:47
What difference does it make who they will vote for? The Republocrat duopoly will win the election, again.

by: Ludwig Densch from: USA
November 02, 2012 22:12
My girlfriend of three years is Persian. In the past three years I have learned much about Iran and the Persians. I tell you this: I am so ashamed of our politicians including these two clowns that the thought of either one of them holding the Office sickens me. The only representative who makes sense in regards to Iran and israel in Ron Paul who will not be elected. The rest of them are so beholden to israel and its interests that will NEVER deal with Iran fairly; this includes going to war with Iran for the "chosen people."

So y girlfriend and I will be voting for David Duke. He has treated Iranians and Americans with more wisdom and honesty than any politician beholden to AIPAC and israel ever would. A protest vote which I hope more people would cast.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
November 03, 2012 15:05
if your girlfriend of three years was able to swing your opinion 180 degrees from being a faithful American citizen dutifully believing what you are told to believe by our democratically "elected" government and "free" US media, what does it tell about your?

You should always believe what US government tells you, or you are anti-American and should be investigated on wire fraud charges. Remember, some unpatriotic Americans had to be burned alive at Waco, TX by our democratic government, to prevent undemocratic ideas from spreading further. Some other unfaithful ones had to be shot at Ruby Ridge, ID, and some more jailed in Michigan for thinking they could exercise their second amendment rights without government permission

by: wavettore from: usa
November 03, 2012 01:37
Once again, the next US presidential election will be fixed. Mitt Romney will be elected even though Barack Obama would have received more votes in the 2012 election. The politicalassassination will be perpetrated by Bush hiding behind Crossroads GPS, the most influential group of Neocons.

The Neocons will have Mitt Romney elected to first use him and then let him fall easy prey. All blames and responsibilities will fall on the new Mormon president for the events already planned.

Mitt Romney will be the spokesman for George Bush and his job inauguration is on January 21 2013. The next Israeli election instead will be on January 22 2013. These two dates are overlapped in preparation for War.

The new World War of Religion is already a done deal behind the backs of all people to bring chaos and poverty and to favor in the end one New World Order.

It will be just from chaos that one voice will rise with the promise to fix all and everyone. That will be the forked tongue of the New World Order.

There is one single Solution to prepare for this future scenario.

http://www.wavevolution.org/en/humanwaves.html
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 05, 2012 00:05
You have provided these forecasts across the last 12 months on thise website and I admire your conviction in stating them again so close to the election. You have a 50/50 chance - Romney will either win or he will not.

If Romney wins then you will feel vindicated. If he should lose then I suggest you review all of your underlying assumptions. If you are not willing to challenge all of your underlying assumptions, then why do you believe that 7 billion people on this planet will review theirs just because a "new religion" happens to announce itself? You should answer this to yourself before the election results.
In Response

by: William from: Aragon
November 07, 2012 22:01
Your forecast has not come to pass. Please continue to think globally - too many people think in terms of their own "hill-tribe" - but you would be well advised to change your sources of information and rethink some of your ideas. I honestly wish you well in that. Regards, William of Aragon.

by: matt from: Los Angeles
November 03, 2012 04:06
I don't agree with sanctions, since people are the one who get hurt. You tried sanctions for years, and it is time to do something more effective!!! or maybe it is not in the interest of world powers, when they can get it all for free or cheaper! So only people of Iran take the heat.

by: sara from: california
November 03, 2012 04:37
No one we don't care about America. Care about saving Iran from Stupid Americans.

by: Mandy from: New York
November 03, 2012 04:44
Mr. Eghtedari shows his ignorance when he advocates following the European's engagement policy with Iran, which the Europeans themselves are the first ones to admit was a failure!

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