The Time is NowruzPolicy

In President Obama’s speech to the Iranian people for the Persian New Year, he talks about new beginnings and the respect for them and their culture. This is a dramatic shift from the Bush Administration and one I wholeheartedly agree with. Relations with Iran will not improve overnight with just one speech. This is a process that will take years to mend. Many Americans, understandably so, believe the problems with Iran started during the 70’s with the Revolution and hostage situation. But it started much earlier than that. During the early 50’s, the Dulles brothers enlisted Kermit Roosevelt to perform the CIA’s first overthrow of a democratically elected government, which would go on to set the standard for the doing the same in Latin America. In Iran’s case, by overthrowing Prime Minister Mosaddegh, who was a very stubborn but honest man, the US paved the way for the Shah’s return, who had lost power to Mosaddegh due to corruption and incompetence. This time the Shah’s rule was no better and when he was overthrown a second time it was with democracy and fundamentalism combined.

It is imperative to improve relations with Iran because we simply cannot afford not to. We already have 2 active wars on both of their borders which they are making much more painful for us than it needs to be. We cannot react to them militarily, as many Neocons wish to do, because of all the proxy wars they will start with us from Hezbollah, Hamas, and even possibly Venezuela. Iran is repeatedly requesting OPEC to convert off the Dollar to a Euro standard which would devastate our economy even more. And of course, bullying Iran will not prevent them from gaining a nuclear weapon.

Improving relations with Iran will take time. The first step is having a real dialogue with Iran which was unavailable to us for too long. We are already seeing Khomeini trying to prevent cracks in his regime among moderates and hardliners from Obama’s speech. Along with continued dialogue, the US should put their most powerful weapons to use, our economy and technology. Iran has massive oil reserves with crude they are unable to refine to keep pace with demand and in turn import much of their petrol. American oil companies have the technology to process these reserves and employ the thousands of out of work Iranians. Without a middle class, Iran will remain polarized. Trading with Iran instead of sanctions will not only help moderate their country but in a future far away could even make them an ally in the Middle East.

  • Steven Osborne

    President Obama’s address was fundamentally flawed in many ways. He directly extended the olive branch to the mullahs, and in doing so discouraged future empowerment of the Iranian people.

    We need to understand why the mullahs are against us. It is not because of economics or trade sanctions. It is about their desire to see the return of the Islamic Mahdi. Already Iranian government controled propoganda has been priming the Iranian people for the man they call the Mahdi. Some are even pushing the idea that A-Jad is the Mahdi.

    The only way that we will gain the respect of the mullahs is to reject Israel and elevate Islam in America. Obviously, this is unacceptable. So instead of always trying to grope after an impossible peace, we should be preparing for the possibility of war. That is not a neo-con position, that is a common sense position.

    As the saying goes, if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.

  • Mark

    Amit -

    Excellent piece, and right on the money.

    Unfortunately you and the President have to contend with those, like Steven above, who would prefer to see the world in simply black/white, good/evil terms when it is in fact many shades of gray.

    Thank you Mr. President for your demonstration of leadership on this critical issue.

  • Britt Howard

    Peace Sells, but who’s buying?

    -Apparently not Iran.,2933,510020,00.html

    “Any quick gestures by the ruling clerics to mend ties with Washington could be perceived by hard-liners as a betrayal of the revolution.” – from the Fox News article

    “Have you released Iranian assets? Have you lifted oppressive sanctions? Have you given up mudslinging and making accusations against the great Iranian nation and its officials?” Khamenei said in a speech in the northeastern city of Mashhad. The crowd chanted “Death to America.”"

  • Steven Osborne

    Obama’s Foreign Policy Month Two

    With all of the focus on the economy, Obama’s foreign policy has not gotten the kind of scrutiny it deserves. Russia has run all over the Obama Admin. while China has grown more aggressive, and Iran embarassed Obama when he unwittingly offered the olive branch to mullahs who have never before been reconciled to the West.

  • Loudoun Insider

    These radical Islamist cretins will never be on good terms with us. i wish it were otherwise but it will never change until more moderate leaders take charge. Of course which doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon. And most likely we’ll see Pakistan and Eqypt not far behind in being radicalized. I don’t see anything in our future but endless conflict in a new religious war.

  • Amit

    like I said before, one speech is not going to fix the hatred over the past 30+years. of course the top Iranian leadership is going to reject the initial olive branch. what is more important now, is that the Iranian people know that America is willing to try diplomacy with their leaders. It was clever to put the speech on YouTube because we want this to be viral in Iran and to Iranians outside of the Middle East. We need the Iranian people to also have a dialogue with themselves on what to do with America. this is an opportunity for the moderates in Iran. THIS WILL TAKE TIME!!!!! but every marathon starts with the first step. and I’m glad America was the stronger country in this instance to take the first step.

  • Steven Osborne

    While the goal of peace is admirable, President Obama did not show a clear understanding of his listeners. The Iranian leadership and their people are not one in the same.

    Tone is also very important in Middle Eastern culture. Pres. Obama sent a meek tone. While we may appreciate such a tone here in America, the people of the Middle East expect their leaders to be bold and decisive. That is why a “rant” given by Nasrallah or A-Jad is apprecaited there. Pres. Obama failed to deliver a decisiveness in his tone. He tried to give the same message to two groups that are on different wavelengths.

    Also, something that should concern all of us, a few days ago an Iranian blogger mysteriously died while being jailed for criticizing the Ayatollah.

  • Amit

    Steven, I think the tone has to be appropriate. When a leader speaks to his own people, he/she can be more direct and aggressive. But when that same leader is speaking to someone else’s people, giving compliments is more considerate and appealing. and of course the Iranian blogger who died should concern us. how many Russian journalists were killed over the past several years?

  • Steven Osborne


    That is exactly my point. Here in the West, we would see it as impolite to address someone else’s people in a direct way. In the Middle East however, the culture respects directness in tone. That is not my assesment alone, I gathered that from author Bridget Gabriel who grew up in Lebanon.

    The Iranian people have been seriously abused by there leaders. Our extending our hand in friendship to the people who abuse them, will only serve to discourage them from seeking freedom.

  • Amit

    Steven, I think the Middle East is too vast to put all their citizens in one bin. Iranians in particular tend to be more educated and entrepreneurial and in my opinion more prone to listening to an Obama-esque message. all that aside, am I to understand that you agree with the approach but disagree with the execution? or would you chart a different direction altogether?

  • Steven Osborne

    I believe that we should work with those Iranians which desire freedom. Perhaps we could set some of them aside and train them in how to take back their country, similar to the Eisenhower Admin. approach to the Cuban issue. Except this time, provide the proper air support, etc. when needed.

    The people of Iran do not have a real voice in who their leaders are. They actually hold America in high regard. That will change if we betray them to the mullahs.

    The mullahs refuse to work with us unless we start supporting the Palestinians as they fight Israel. The approach that Pres. Obama is taking is the approach that various European nations have already tried, and Iran’s leadership does not take them seriously.

    While I know that peace is something to strive for, we live live in turbulent times, and it is unrealistic to think that the barbaric mullahs or the power hungery Russian leadership that empowers them, will work to any end that sees the United States remain a superpower.

  • Amit

    remember when we worked with Chalabi on Iraq?

    as far as “proper air support”, I believe you are referring to an all out war because a handful of Iranian rebels will need ground support as well. Iran is not going to go down like the Bosnian war. I would contest that we would not have 3 wars simultaneously on our hands but at least 5. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah, and Hamas. Perhaps Israel can handle Lebanon and Palestine, but do you think Russia is not going to assist our adversaries? And this time around who is going to support us? not the Europeans, and not the Chinese. and we would not want India involved because of Pakistan.

    I personally believe military action in Iran would start a disastrous World War III and even if we “win” we will have lost too much in the process.

  • Steven Osborne


    The war that you have just described is already taking shape. We need to be realistic and see that World War III may come regardless of what we do. No amount of niceties will cause Iran, or the larger antagonist Russia to back off of their desire to see the United States lose it’s superpower status. We did not cause this conflict, Russia and the forces that they are gathering have a common goal, and that is to diminish the relevance of the United States.

    Iranian proxy Hezbollah is second only to Al Qaeda in the number of Americans that it has killed. Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen have been captured opposite our troops in Iraq. An Iranian drone was shot down over Iraq. Iran has already fired the opening shot here.

    There is a new wave of nationalism, bordering on fascism, that has arisen in Russia. The Russian leadership is shrewdly building a world alliance to counter NATO. Venezuala has just recently offered to base Russian bombers on one of their islands.

    We should be using this opportunity to modernize our military, and to build alliances with nations that we can rely on. Great Britain, Canada, Poland, Israel. Instead Pres. Obama is cutting our military by 11%, and insulting the British diplomatically. All the while signaling that he will continue to push the “land for peace” debacle on Israel. Pres. Obama should be building those alliances right now, the approach that he is taking will only discourage and confuse our allies, while emboldening our enemies.

  • Joshua

    I certainly agree that we should work to improve relations with Iran. Any people who have had their leader or leaders overthrown by a foreign power would obviously be wary of that nation. The best way to promote our nation and our ideals is via trade, not sanctions and wars. Although Obama is doing his best to shred the Constitution and install socialism, domestically speaking, his foreign policy is a welcome change to the threat of preemptive Congressionally undeclared wars.

  • PC

    There have been other times where the olive branch was extended. After 9/11 for example they were actually cooperating in the War against Al Qaeda but since our foreign policy was dominated by Straussian ideologues, those ties were severed in the beginning of the war against Al Qaeda when we decided to put them on the “Evil” list. The hard line is what gave us Amanutjob, he got voted in right after we escalated our rhetoric.

    The thing that must be understood about most of the advertised governing philosophies is that they are just the marketing slogan to control the behavior of their citizens, talk can go on behind the scenes that may appear opposite to what they say in person, because it takes time to shift opinion of the masses. Rapid change is impossible without some sort of unexpected crisis, but in those cases it usually goes more radical. This will take time, but to look at contemporary history, the current state, and just throw up your hands saying that it can’t be done is naive. That said I don’t think Obama will be very successful at it, but it can be done.