Obama’s Iran Overture Has Merit

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.

15 comments Add your comment

Reality Check

March 23rd, 2009
11:05 am

Thank you Mr. Barr. the notion the we can strong arm Iran into anything is just silly. His attempts to reshape the nature of our dealings with Iran changes the way in which we are viewed in the rest of the Middle East. If nothing else, it allows us to retake the moral high ground and that is huge when it caome to what we can present to the rest of the world. As much as we hate to admit it, The worlds opion matters….

et gentin

March 23rd, 2009
11:08 am

Mr. Barr -

unfortunately prior attempts to “talk” with Iran failed. Jimmy Carter tried and failed (as he always does, miserably). Reagan tried. Clinton tried. Even George W was willing to engage if Iran suspended their rush for a nuclear weapons program, but that failed. While diplomacy is always a preference to threats or war, we need a basis to believe it has even minimal chances of success when if we wait Iran will get their nuke and create an arms race with her Arab neighbors….


March 23rd, 2009
11:55 am

We should be Constitutionally adherent and avoid these endless foreign entanglements…especially within the Middle East. This would encompass immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq & Afghanistan, & ending U.S. taxpayer funding of Israel & all other Middle East nations. Let them sort it out amongst themselves, and let the U.S. focus on improving our economy (via abolishment of the private Fed, IRS & a return to the gold standard/end of fiat currency).

Jack Franklin

March 23rd, 2009
1:03 pm

One columnist wants Obama to end hunger in the world: Now Barr wants Obama to appease Iran. Obama can’t even get his own house in order. Speculation about his ability to do anything other than orate is ridiculous


March 23rd, 2009
10:53 pm

Naive B O is now discovering reality, what conservatives have known for years. We can’t deal with rogue and radical nations. President B O extended the hand and Iran took off the gloves, only to reveal a set of brass knuckles. Iran will NEVER make peace with the US until the US abandons Israel. When the U S does that, we are a doomed country.


March 24th, 2009
2:06 am

While there is no denying that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a loose canon and a radical anti-semite, it is well to consider a few facts. Iranians endured for over thirty years the increasingly repressive regime of Shah Mohammad Pahlavi, who this country backed financially and militarily. Iran also fought off a full scale invasion by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, who once again this country backed both financially and militarily. The resulting war lasted 8 years at a cost of about one million Iranian casualties, including an estimated 200,000 civilian deaths. Finally, Iran is a signator of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty while both Israel and India, with whom this country shares nuclear technology, are not. It is neither unpatriotic nor unreasonable to weigh these facts in pusuit of constructive diplomacy.


March 24th, 2009
8:05 am

The war in Iraq was much bigger than the majority of the world seems to realize. Not only was the purpose to stabilize Iraq and bring the country into the world, but also to ashphyxiate the Iranian economy. The Iranian military is no match for the U.S. However, waging conventional war against Iran would be very diffucult due to the Iranian geography and proximity to Russia. Iran has coveted Iraq and the geographic advantages it has for centuries. The sweet crude oil resources would be a bonus. Yes, Iran has oil but it is sour and can only be refined by a few countries(the U.S. is one). The Iranian economy has been contracting for years. Unemployment is rumoured to be 20% or higher. Only 40% – 50% of the population is Persian. The rest of the population consists of ethnic groups that have been persecuted for years. You can’t support terroism without money. Eventually, the mullahs will destroy their economy. At that point, they mey be weak enough to be ousted by a restless populace that has had enough.

The other option is not so pleasant. Presdient Obama will have a tough decision on his hands if the situation continues on its present course.

Just Nasty & Mean

March 24th, 2009
8:52 am

Bob, don’t be an idiot.

Where does Obama think the conversations should start? Please don’t wipe Israel off the map? Or, Please believe in the Holocaust? Or, please don’t bomb kill any more American soldiers? Or, please don’t sell Iraq insurgents more roadside bombs? Or, please don’t provide more rockets for Hamas and Hezbollah to launch helter-skelter into Israeli citizens?

Where do you start, Bob?

These ragheads never pass an opportunity to attack the US and our allies. They make no bones about their mission from Allah, and their “peaceful religion” to kill all infidels (pigs).

Is it beyond comprehension, Bob, that Iran would like to kill all Americans, Christians, Jews, and any other flavor of their own religion they don’t agree with? Is it possible that this theocracy is so deeply intertwined with political and international policy that centuries-old writings by a rag salesman and child molester, Muhammad, that they will be at war with ANYONE opposed to his teachings?

So, tell me Bob. Where does one begin in talking to a nutcase like Ahmadinejad?

Wasn’t it just last week Obla-bla-ma reached out to Cuba, only to have them threaten to bring in Soviet bombers into this Hemisphere?

Why not learn from centuries of history, Bob, and understand that what Obla-bla-ma did–in their society— is construed as a sign of WEAKNESS and a crack in our resolve—to be taken advantage of by Iran et al.

Suggestion: Stay on Liberterian issues, and leave international affairs to Buchanan, Hanson, and others who can incorporate history and religion into the equation.
Otherwise, you look the fool.

Chris Broe

March 24th, 2009
9:04 am

I guess my Shia Superstate never happened.

seems a shame.


March 24th, 2009
12:37 pm

i agree with just nasty and mean


March 24th, 2009
1:38 pm

Bob, You never cease to amaze me, reason in the midst of confusion. I have always thought that you truly had the American people’s interest front and center.

Keep up the good work. Enough with the “my way or highway” crowd. You cannot expect dialog by giving orders.

Mutual Respect.


March 24th, 2009
3:35 pm

Obama has good intentions I think. He sees that particular former strategies have been less than successful. I want him to succeed in this endeavor in a way(hopefully peaceful) that is truly beneficial for the US , in the long term. So we don’t have to deal with it anymore. That said, the people running countries like Iran today, are pragmatic with respect to their ongoing need for power. They KNOW if they don’t appease the more radical right wingers of their supporters, they will more than likely end up taking a dirt nap. 1 of the questions is, how long does the US wait for real substantive positive results? Or what has to happen for us to respond militarily?
The true answer will come, if we are lucky, when the USA no longer requires Middle Eastern oil for day to day functions. The week this happens, Iran, Iraq, and the rest of the oil barrons near the Strait of Hormuz become much less relevant. Once we stop buying their product, a huge money spigot will get shut off for them and they might have to change their international public policies.
There’s really only 2 ways for it to end. 1) Nuke them into extinction, rendering the US the largest mass murderers to ever walk the planet. 2) Get completely off their oil rendering them the largest country in the world whose only resource is SAND.

Eleanor Rigby

March 24th, 2009
9:25 pm

You hit the nail on the head. Not only would it make the mid-east less relevant but it would stop funding for terrorists. I believe there must be some alternative to petroleum. If we could turn our attention and resources to a viable alternative we could find a way. Ethanol is not the answer. If we could find a way to turn kudzu and garbage into fuel that might work. We have plenty of that. That’s kind of tongue-in-cheek, but still…


March 25th, 2009
8:02 pm

The “us against the world” attitude of clueless belligerence doesn’t work and usually makes our foreign relations even worse.

Don’t like Iran? Think they’re run by lunatics? Then IGNORE THEM. Don’t deal with them, trade with them, or pay them any attention at all. If they start attacking allies, pursue containment and sanctions as needed.

On the other hand, if they just want to smack-talk about Israel… who cares?

john doe

April 8th, 2009
2:10 pm

‘Just Nasty & Mean’ is a complete neocon fool. Iran is a paper tiger and just uses threats to get attention and concessions. Bush should have dismantled the state department because his only strategy was to use foolish force to control the world’s oil. He and cheney were foolish failures.