One advantage of being older is that you understand fluctuating international relationships. America’s friends and foes have changed over the years; they will continue to do so.
While I won’t be around to find out, I’m predicting that by 2060, Iran will be a popular vacation destination for many Americans. Yes, I know that in 2020 this sounds impossible, but hear me out. Some of my adult vacation journeys were never anticipated in my youth.
As a very young child, I learned that the Germans and Japanese were going to kill all Americans and freedom-loving people. Hearing the German language was scary; it was synonymous with death, bombs and war. Everything Japanese was suspect. Fear makes us behave in irrational ways. Regardless of their status, America imprisoned first- and second-generation American citizens of Japanese descent because they looked like the enemy.
In grade school, there were some things about which I was certain. My childhood friends would remain my friends, I would go to college, ice cream would be my favorite dessert and I was going to travel to many places. But I was never going to travel to Germany or Japan or buy anything made in those countries.
Other Americans had similar feelings. Some local people may recall the reason the Toyota plant, which provides hundreds of jobs in our area, is located in Putnam County. The owner of the Cabell County property upon which Toyota wanted to build was a soldier who fought the Japanese in World War II; no money or political influence could change his mind to sell to the Japanese.
My feelings about Germany and Japan changed slowly. As I finished college, I had a chance to travel to European countries, including Germany; my attitudes began to modify. By the mid 1960s, a generation after the war ended, we happily bought a very pre-owned VW Beetle. Over the years, I have enjoyed visits to various German cities.
By the 1980s, I had been to Tokyo twice, but much more recently enjoyed visits to two places, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which I never anticipated visiting. And, we’ve been buying Japanese cars for years.
While I’ve not been there, Vietnam is one of the newest hot spots for international travel. As American helicopters retreated in fear and confusion from Saigon in 1975, who would have thought that two generations later, internet travel sites would list information for the “Hanoi Hilton” prison and today’s Hanoi Hilton Hotel consecutively?
Today, Iran is a major threat to America. We hear Iranians shout, “Death to America” and see them burn our flag; there is no ambiguity in their leaders’ attitude toward us. We still remember the 1979 Iranian Islamic religious take-over of their country and the hostage crisis where 52 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. Today, Iran is focused on building nuclear weapons. Leaders of both nations are still beating their chests but at least did not opt to start World War III last week.
We know America’s relationships with other nations continue in a state of flux. Iran has wonderful cultural sites; President Trump has identified 52 of them. Two generations from now, international intrigue, conflict and hostilities will still occur in our world, but I predict that Iran will be a popular vacation destination.