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Iran’s Detainment Of U.S. Hikers Analyzed

With news coming in that Iran will release one of the detained U.S. hikers on bail, the family of the woman involved – as well as most Americans – must feel a profound sense of relief. The woman, along with her two male companions, has been imprisoned in Iran for about a year – mostly in solitary confinement. Iran’s version of what led to the hikers’ arrest was that they were captured in Iranian territory, and that they had “equipment that could only be used for spying”. Meanwhile, the U.S. alleges that the hikers had no intentions of espionage. The general public may never know if the three Americans were spying or if they were merely reporting on the events in the area, but the reaction of the governments of both countries is interesting to analyze.

The Battle Of World Opinion

If we adopt the opinion that the American version of events is correct, we might wonder why Iran would bother detaining the three hikers. There are several possibilities. For one, tensions between the two countries have been high for many years. From former president Reagan calling Iran “an evil empire” to former president George W. Bush dubbing it part of the “axis of evil”, the U.S. has hardly taken a favorable view of Iran, nor has Iran been kind with its rhetoric about the U.S. Also, Iran’s goal of developing nuclear technology is opposed by the U.S., as well as by most of the Western world. So, both countries are waging a battle of public relations; each wants to appear correct in the eyes of the world so that it can win favor amongst its allies. This favor, for both countries, makes it easier to achieve their respective goals. With this in mind, it makes sense that both sides are trying to portray their position on the hikers as defensible and morally right.

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