In a carefully-scripted but bold videotaped message to Iran last Friday, President Obama clearly signaled that the United States was ready to open a dialog with Iran. There is much to commend such a move to Tehran and to Washington.
Obama’s message made clear that our government was not extending a blank check to the Iranian regime. Rather, he clearly implied that for a dialog to move forward, support for terrorism and violence must stop. And, while Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seemed to throw cold water officially on the American President’s olive branch, a careful reading of his public response — like a careful reading of Obama’s words — indicate there may be room for both sides to maneuver to the negotiating table.
Considering that the bellicose tactics pursued by the former administration of George W. Bush failed to achieve the desired results of brow beating Iran into renouncing its belligerent policies, Obama’s more measured moves should be welcomed by all interested parties. The new American president’s language reflects as well the fact that Iran remains a major economic and political player in that region of the world. The country also figures importantly in US-Russia relations and in the geo-political strategies of both superpowers.
It should also be borne in mind that the carrot-and-stick approach reflected in Obama’s words mirrors the words and strategy employed productively over many years by other U.S. presidents confronting other adversaries, including the Soviet Union. A one-track strategy confronting our adversaries, relying solely on military action or threatened military action, has rarely, if ever achieved desired results. Obama appears to realize this — as did his predecessors, including Ronald Reagan — and his launching of a multi-faceted strategy toward Iran, if allowed to proceed, may be productive indeed.