Phone Call Heard Round the World

In phone convo, President #Rouhani and President @BarackObama expressed their mutual political #will to rapidly solve the #nuclear issue.

— Hassan Rouhani (@HassanRouhani) September 27, 2013

Obama makes historic call to Iran’s president

There is, of course, the possibility of making too much out of largely symbolic acts when two countries have been at odds with each other as long as the U.S. and Iran have.  But today’s phone call between Pres. Obama and Iran’s Pres. Rouhani, apparently initiated by Obama, is a promising sign of a continuing thaw in relations. It was the first direct contact between leaders of both nations since 1979.  Here is a memorable tweet from Negar Mortazavi about it:

No sleep tonight for hawks in Tehran, Washington & Tel Aviv, while millions of Iranians were sleeping & dreaming of a better future. #HOPE

— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) September 28, 2013

I continue to be angered by the journalist mandarins at the NY Times and elsewhere who warn that Rouhani won’t be able to carry the day because of opposition within Iran.  Why is Iran always viewed as the weak link?  The same holds true regarding our own government.  We’ve not even begun to see the level of vitriol and propaganda that the combined forces of the Israel Lobby, neocons and GOP will mount against any possible deal.  This could be like the 1949 “Who lost China” imbroglio times 100.  Will Obama, not known particularly for standing up strongly for principles when the going gets tough, hold fast?

Peripheral fallout from this development, should it eventually be successful, is that Israel will be rendered ever more marginalized from the Middle East as a region and within the scheme of U.S. foreign policy.  Bibi essentially shanghaied U.S. policy toward Iran for almost a decade for reasons too obscure to bother parsing here.  But in the end, he will have taken Israel out on a limb which Rouhani will have helped saw off.  He will have only himself to blame as Israel becomes ever more estranged from, and irrelevant to the international community.

Another MSM meme I’d like to kill off: due to punishing U.S. sanctions the ayatollahs are crying “uncle” and suing for peace.  As a result, they’re willing to, or should be willing to kill off their nuclear program.  Ain’t gonna happen folks.  Not only is it any nation’s right under the NPT to enrich uranium and run a nuclear reactor, this is an absolute deal-breaker for Iran.  It will conduct a nuclear program.  It will enrich uranium.  How much and to what percentage are all questions for negotiation.  But to think that Iran’s going to roll-over and give this up is utterly foolish.

In that sense, Bush made a catastrophic decision to shun Iran’s Grand Bargain offer in 2003.  Then Pres. Khatami actually suspended Iran’s nuclear program for two years and offered to give it up if the U.S. worked out an agreement to end sanctions and normalize relations.  So we’re now being penalized for refusing a better deal offered a decade ago!

It’s also noteworthy that the UN Security Council, which for months has been stalemated over the Syria issue, passed a new resolution giving some teeth to the demand that Syria renounce its chemical weapons program.  Though the resolution doesn’t call for military action if Syria fails to comply, it does give Obama some added cover should Syria renege and the president decide that an attack is warranted.  It also gives Obama and Rouhani more common ground should they also seek a compromise over the fate of Syria.