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In euphoria over Iran breakthrough, Wash Post poll says 85% of Americans approve

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What an amazing day. The White House website publishes its photo of the day, of the president’s historic conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, (above by Pete Souza), and the Washington Post poll overwhelmingly reflects American opinion in favor of the opening:

Should the U.S. seek to improve relations with Iran?





19946 people have taken this poll.

The Obama announcement of the call verged on triumphant:

I do believe that there is a basis for a resolution.  Iran’s Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.  President Rouhani has indicated that Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.  I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations.  So the test will be meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place.
Resolving this issue, obviously, could also serve as a major step forward in a new relationship between the United States and the Islamic Republic of Iran — one based on mutual interests and mutual respect.  It would also help facilitate a better relationship between Iran and the international community, as well as others in the region — one that would help the Iranian people fulfill their extraordinary potential, but also help us to address other concerns that could bring greater peace and stability to the Middle East.

A path to a meaningful agreement will be difficult, and at this point, both sides have significant concerns that will have to be overcome.  But I believe we’ve got a responsibility to pursue diplomacy, and that we have a unique opportunity to make progress with the new leadership in Tehran.  I also communicated to President Rouhani my deep respect for the Iranian people.

Jasmin Ramsey says “It may be the most positive message put out by the US government on Iran since before its 1979 revolution.”

From the Hassan Rouhani twitter account many believe to be legitimate, Rouhani spoke of a “phone convo” and spoke of “regional matters.”

, agreed ground shud b prepared 4 solving of other issues, incl regional matters. FMs tasked w/ follow-up to expedite coop

He retweeted this John Kerry tweet:

Good first steps w/ this wk. Positive meeting w/ last night. Historic POTUS and call today. -JK

Robert Mackey says a series of even more ebullient tweets about the convo was removed later.

Ramsey at Lobelog: “[this] tweet via Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s account of his phone conversation with President Obama summarizes what many people are feeling: today may mark the beginning of a US-Iran detente — or even rapprochement. (Rouhani retweeted Costolo by the way).” Costolo:

I feel like i’m witnessing a tectonic shift in the geo-political landscape reading tweets. Fascinating.

The Times editorial board tries to restrain its excitement:

the phone call was the most audacious sign of a new day, and Mr. Rouhani immediately told the world about it on Twitter. It’s hard not to be swept up in the euphoria, especially when an adversary begins to seem not only reasonable but personable.

The Times news report and NPR this morning say that hardliners in Tehran pelted Rouhani’s car with eggs to indicate disapproval of the opening. But it’s not just hardliners in Iran who want to stymie these talks. I’d point out that on MSNBC yesterday, Joy-Ann Reid, a true progressive, threw cold water on the opening, describing as extremist Rouhani’s demand that “Israel… give up its nuclear weapons.” Is this really the progressive American position, that de-nuclearizing the Middle East is a bad thing? Chomsky has called for what Rouhani calls for. Reid’s comment was likely scripted.

Netanyahu, whose twitter feed is silent right now, is also expected to dismiss the opening. Ramsey:

It has already been suggested that Netanyahu will compare Iran to North Korea at the UN — a continuation of his description of Rouhani as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. Israel boycotted Iran’s speech at the UNGA on Tuesday and has been alleging that Iran has been questing for a nuclear weapon for years, so it will be interesting to see if Netanyahu continues this line next week.

Meantime, J Street, whose annual conference begins today, makes it clear that it wants to be the Israel lobby for the new American center. It thoroughly approves the breakthrough:

J Street is encouraged by President Barack Obama’s telephone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani – a possible first step on the road to solve the crisis caused by Iran’s nuclear program.

Such dialogue is exactly the type of move needed if the parties are to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis in a way that preserves regional security and avoids a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. J Street views with cautious optimism the President’s announcement that both presidents to have instructed their negotiating teams “to continue working expeditiously, in cooperation with the P-5 plus one, to pursue an agreement”, and commends President Obama’s commitment to “stay in close touch with our friends and allies in the region, including Israel” throughout the process.

A few weeks ago, 131 Members of Congress urged President Obama to test Rouhani’s campaign overtures about constructive engagement on the nuclear file. We agree with the President’s assertion today that “the test will be meaningful, transparent and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place” and “respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations.”


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32 Responses

  1. amigo
    September 28, 2013, 11:16 am

    I bet the candles are burning in Tel Aviv tonight.I bet the zionist anti peace crowd are in a complete stupor and are trying to see how they can put an end to this Peace nonsense.

    Expect dirty tricks. Zionism,s very existence is at stake here.

    But they won,t keep this process hidden from those 85% of Americans who will be watching to see how this pans out.

    • riyadh
      September 28, 2013, 4:48 pm

      I was thinking the same thing. It serves Netanyahu right for completely humiliating Obama during his last White House visit. I bet that asshole wishes he would’ve halted settlement construction now. It should be a pretty interesting conversation when he visits the White House again on Monday.

  2. pabelmont
    September 28, 2013, 11:28 am

    As to regional issues: If Rouhani called for removal of the Israeli settlers, the wall, and perhaps the settlement buildings, who would listen? Would such a call from Iran be regarded (by he world generally) as peaceful, pro-rule-of-law, etc.? If not, from what country (which might reasonably make such a statement) would such a call be regarded (by the world generally) as peaceful, pro-rule-of-law, etc.?

    Let us recall that originally, the USA called the settlers and settlements illegal. All of them, not just new ones. And the USA failed to veto UNSC 465 which says much the same and calls for (as I read it) removal of settlers and calls (clearly) for dismantlement of the settlement (buildings). OK, that was then. 1980.

    In recent years, AIPAC has been so ascendant that the USA has merely asked (not demanded) cessation of building of NEW SETTLEMENTS. And gotten nowhere.

    So it is time for some country to call a spade a spade, to say what everyone knows, and to demand removal — a demand to be enforced by sanctions — of all settlers, all settlements, and the wall.

    What holds them back? Will EU jump into the deep end after dipping its toe into the shallow waters of near-meaningless sanctions against Israeli businesses operating inside the OPTs? Brazil (angry at USA)? Russia?

    Seems not anytime soon. Will Russia get anything back as quid pro quo for deal on Syria?

  3. JohnAdamTurnbull
    September 28, 2013, 11:36 am

    All good news that seems to demonstrate the underlying common sense of Americans and Iranians.

    Despite the regular talk of sanctions against Iran, I wonder how many westerners realize what the sanctions really are. I’m not clear myself on the detail, but I know that Iranian businesses have been destroyed by the constraints on banking, and that poverty there has worsened. Not surprising then, that Rouhani declined a public handshake. (Imagine that shoe on the other foot.)

    I wonder why we are not connecting sanctions on Iran with boycott of Israel. One is a more powerful and far more damaging version of the other. There are other significant differences, but in the end, withdrawing business activity seems to be approved by popular political commentators in one case and not the other. Is that a hypocrisy that we should note?

    • just
      September 28, 2013, 12:08 pm

      Yes, John.

      One of many, many hypocrisies.

    • Citizen
      September 28, 2013, 1:29 pm

      Yes, John, it’s a glaring hypocrisy that goes totally unmentioned or even hinted at in the US mainstream media.

  4. just
    September 28, 2013, 11:49 am

    “a possible first step on the road to solve the crisis caused by Iran’s nuclear program.”

    There IS no “crisis”– that is so patently false. It’s an Israeli self-made “crisis”. Who are we and Israel (both nuclear powers) to dictate to the Iranians???

    “I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations. So the test will be meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions, which can also bring relief from the comprehensive international sanctions that are currently in place.”

    Well, duh! Tell Israel to contribute “meaningful, transparent, and verifiable actions”, as well. Declare your miserable stockpiles and stop assassinating Iranian scientists….–start there!

    For years I have fervently wished for normalization of relations between the US and Iran…the time is NOW. We have launched two massive wars on Iran’s borders, contributed to the death of many, many Iranians and done our level best to destabilize the “region”, while always kowtowing to the Israeli ‘leadership’ (all of them), the and their wicked agenda. We also kowtow to SA and the Gulf States. Basta!

    The demonization of Pres. Ahmadinejad was undeserved. And, for the Israeli delegation to once again “walk out” on Pres. Rouhani’s speech was flat- out adolescent, foolish, and proves again that they do not seek peace, rapprochement, or anything resembling justice in the region.

    • Citizen
      September 28, 2013, 1:33 pm

      @ just
      The mainstream media boilerplate is that Iran sponsors and funds the terrorist groups; no mention is ever made of being in Iran’s shoes regarding direct state terror by Israel and US, and as well, both Israel and US sponsorship of terror groups .

      • annie
        September 28, 2013, 3:06 pm

        both Israel and US sponsorship of terror groups .

        the US sponsors israel. there’s no entity iran supports that does more damage and causes more terror than israel. none! hezbollah isn’t carrying out a crime against humanity everyday. nothing even remotely close to the ethnic cleansing of palestine. nor are their leaders war criminals.

  5. Marco
    September 28, 2013, 11:50 am

    A U.S.-Iran detente would obviously be good for this country, but you have to wonder what Rouhani is offering in exchange. I don’t believe the administration would be readily accepting the olive branch – with much of the, until now virulently anti-Iranian media going along, unless Rouhani and company were offering some major, major concessions.

    Is Iran signalling that its open to dropping support for Hezbollah and Syria? What are they telling Obama about Israel and the Palestinians?

    • just
      September 28, 2013, 12:06 pm

      Why should Iran offer anything in exchange? What has Iran done to us? We are the aggressors. We have behaved abominably. We have imposed punishing sanctions on the people of Iran. We are the warmongers.

      I don’t understand why it is requisite that they give when we are the traditionally the takers…

      • Bandolero
        September 28, 2013, 12:47 pm


        “Why should Iran offer anything in exchange? What has Iran done to us?”

        Iran can offer the US a honest exit from Afghanistan, one that looks better than the US exit from Saigon. As Afghanistan is a persian-speaking country neighboring Iran, it’s very natural that it’s big neighbor Iran has lot’s of influence in Afghanistan.

      • MHughes976
        September 28, 2013, 12:55 pm

        Well, Iran may not have a moral obligation to make concessions but is under a great deal of practical pressure to make at least some. In answer to Marco’s questions my guess would be that support for Hizb and Syria will remain: there is enough Russian support to keep that option open. But as for the Palestinians I think there may be a signal of support for Kerry’s negotiation drama or farce or whatever it is. If the main impulse is to rapprochement with Obama that would be the really effective quid pro quo. The Palestinians still lack any great power support. But I think Taxi (I think it was her) was right to say a few days ago that international cooperation with Iran sanctions is bound to subside. It’s hard to see how the pressure can be ramped up again by the United States, now that we see the temper of public opinion there.

      • Citizen
        September 28, 2013, 1:39 pm

        @ just
        Nothing to understand except the obvious: Iran is a much weaker state that the USA.

    • American
      September 28, 2013, 1:43 pm

      Iran has enormous influence in the ME,enormous ……see W&M’s “Israel Lobby’ -Chapter 10 for a rundown on why Iran is so important in the ME and therefore to all outside countries.
      A US-Iran ‘diplomatic relationship’ of any kind is a huge threat to Israel–it diminishes their standng in the ME and their influence with the US when the US has more than just the Isr ‘relationship’ to consider’ in its policies.

      I can see a lot of grand bargins re the entire region that could come from a US-Iran agreement–all good.
      Iran containing Hezbollah–giving Isr one less threat to tout to get its way.
      In exchange for which the US forces an end to I/P and gets a settlement.
      Then hopefully ,ditching all the US security aid to Isr…..sorry boys, you dont need it any more, all your threats are gone.
      If the US ( and ideally Russia also) put it/themselves between e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e–all the states and actors with disputes in the ME–then you would have them all effectively contained–at least from hot wars and crossing over into each others countries for regime changes. Whatever clashes took place then in ME countries would at least be clashes in their own populations only.
      If there has to be a 800 lb gorilla sitting on the ME it should be the US and Russia in concert—–thereby preventing any playing off the US vr Russia and any regional hedgemon wannabe like Israel or any others from upsetting the whole ME applecart.

    • ToivoS
      September 28, 2013, 1:47 pm

      Iran will probably concede enriching U238 to 20% and perhaps some other minor things so Obama can save a little face. It is likely, that this has been worked out in advance.

      • Justpassingby
        September 29, 2013, 11:28 am

        Naive much? Besides you really think Iran care about saving Obama’s “little face”?

  6. miriam6
    September 28, 2013, 1:27 pm

    [email protected];

    We are the aggressors. We have behaved abominably. We have imposed punishing sanctions on the people of Iran. We are the warmongers.

    Exactly , just.

    But American aggression towards Iran dates back even further than 1979 to 1953 when the CIA organised a coup to depose the elected leader Prime Minister Mossadegh and replace him with the dictatorship of the Shah.

    So far what Rouhani has got in response to his diplomacy is a phone call from Obama;

    US, Iran leaders talk for first time since 1979
    After calling America a ‘great nation,’ Rouhani reaches out to set up 15-minute phone chat with Obama
    White House says Israel was informed of call

    Meanwhile back upon Rouhani’s return to Iran he received a mixed though mostly favourable response to his diplomatic efforts abroad;

    Iranian president gets mixed welcome in Tehran after his five-day trip to New York,
    Obama phone call

    Iranian protesters threw shoes, eggs and stones on Saturday at the car of President Hasan Rouhani, back from a five-day trip to New York to speak at the UN General Assembly.
    The president got a mixed reception at the airport, as several dozen hardline Islamists chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” as his motorcade drew away. Others attempted to obstruct the road by praying on the pavement, the New York Times reported.
    The hardline protesters were outnumbered by several hundred supporters of the president who shouted: “Thank you Rouhani,” AFP reported Saturday


  7. Kathleen
    September 28, 2013, 1:30 pm

    I love Joy Reid but have noticed this type of right wing response before when it comes to the middle east issues…especially Iran. Not sure if she really believes this stuff or just carrying water for the lobby or Comcast? Generally I really agree with her on domestic issues. But like so many so called liberals in congress and in the MSM they go left on domestic issues and for decades take a hard turn right on the middle east. So sad to see Joy Reid line up with them.

    Joy needs her own show but would surely miss her well educated, well thought out opinions on issues other than the middle east

  8. American
    September 28, 2013, 2:20 pm

    All this may be too much to hope for but if Obama can pull this off then he will deserve his Nobel Peace Prize.

    • Keith
      September 28, 2013, 3:41 pm

      AMERICAN- “All this may be too much to hope for but if Obama can pull this off then he will deserve his Nobel Peace Prize.”

      Pull what off? Get Iran to capitulate and realign with US objectives, like it was under the Shah? Achieve imperial objectives through the use of soft power instead of hard power? Has he dropped the illegal and unjustified sanctions? Actions speak louder than words, and so far I have seen no indication of a change in imperial objectives, merely a flexibility in tactics. Obama is a professional liar. Nothing he says should be taken at face value.

  9. Keith
    September 28, 2013, 4:08 pm

    PHIL- “He retweeted this John Kerry tweet:”

    Tweets? Has it come to this? I haven’t commented on the insidious impact of tweets on journalistic analysis, however, the time has come. Tweets are a prime example of how the internet has INCREASED the power of the dominant elites. This is worse than gossip, it is a perfect example of perception management which you are breathlessly taking at face value. All of these people have an agenda, along with a professional staff of skilled propagandists to construct these “personal” comments.

    “Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.” (I.F. Stone)

  10. W.Jones
    September 28, 2013, 9:47 pm

    “Jstreet wants to be the israel lobby for the new center”.
    Why do we keep caring what J Street thinks?

  11. Marco
    September 29, 2013, 12:00 am

    It’s worth remembering that in just the past decade the Libyan government under Qaddafi came in from the cold and became friendly with the U.S., France, Great Britain etc. before it was then toppled by the Obama administration in the midst of that country’s civil war.

    Which is simply to point out that the U.S. could develop seemingly amicable relations with Iran and yet wage war against it in the not so distant future.

    There’s no guarantee that this will turn out to be a Nixon to China scenario, in other words.

  12. HarryLaw
    September 29, 2013, 5:25 am

    Obama said “I have made clear that we respect the right of the Iranian people to access peaceful nuclear energy in the context of Iran meeting its obligations.” Iran’s obligations under UNSC Resolution 1696 of 2006 and the many other UNSC Resolutions after that under chapter 7, whilst not using the language of force, do require [rightly or wrongly] for Iran to stop uranium enrichment, this is what Obama and the Israel lobby will harp on about and will be their bottom line. So despite the euphoria there is a long way to go.

  13. MRW
    September 29, 2013, 6:20 am

    Does anyone have a working link to the Washington Post poll?

  14. brenda at fol
    brenda at fol
    September 29, 2013, 9:18 am

    Official comments from both camps can be found here: (US) and (Iran). Interesting the different styles in packaging.

    • MHughes976
      September 29, 2013, 4:46 pm

      Yes, the Iranian statement is much more terse: thanks for the interesting link. The Obama statement strikes the pose of someone (rather generously) overcoming suspicions but taking trouble to remind us that suspicions exist, the Rouhani statement strikes the pose of someone glad to cut through the circumlocutions and get down to business. Rouhani is implicitly comparing himself to his predecessor, Obama is presenting himself as someone leaping with consummate assurance from the role of Warrior King to that of Prince of Peace, which he always (honestly!) really was.

  15. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    September 30, 2013, 11:23 pm

    The American public is tired of war. Who can blame them? Yet this fatigue should not be confused with the thought that the American people have a deep understanding of Iran’s nondesire/desire for nukes. Many people on this site assert that Iran has no interest in nukes. I seriously doubt that the serious people in the Obama administration agree with that. And the American people have little knowledge of Iran and it is not their cunning understanding of Iran that is on display with these poll results. The American public’s fatigue vis a vis war undercuts Obama’s “all options are on the table”. If Iran is serious about an agreement on nukes, that will be clear to the US negotiators within a few months. If they are not serious, it will be interesting to see how Obama handles the situation.

    • annie
      October 1, 2013, 1:38 am

      his fatigue should not be confused with the thought that the American people have a deep understanding of Iran’s nondesire/desire for nukes.

      hmm, i think it’s possible the american people might consider iranians have a similar “nondesire/desire for nukes” as we do. it seems kind of logical. or do you think they are very different than us, as individuals?

    • Shingo
      October 1, 2013, 2:32 am

      Many people on this site assert that Iran has no interest in nukes. I seriously doubt that the serious people in the Obama administration agree with that.

      Anyone with a modicum of logic would have to question why it is that political leaders like Obama and co, can’t even get their story straight.

      1. One day, Obama (apparently also a serious people) accuses Iran of pursuing nukes.
      2. On another day, Leon Panetta (a serious people) states clearly on Meet the Press, that Iran is not producing nukes.
      3. On another day, people like Clapper (a serious people) say that there is no threat of Iran producing nukes without the US detecting such activities.
      4. On another day, Obama says the US is OK with Iran enriching for peaceful purposes
      5. The next day, he says the US is NOT OK with Iran enriching for any purposes.
      6. Every NIW since 2007 has concluded that Iran is not producing nukes.
      7. Every year since 2007, the Director of National Intelligence (a serious people) has testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran is not producing nukes.

      I seriously doubt you or they are to be taken seriously.

  16. seafoid
    October 1, 2013, 5:21 am

    So Fed spending is shut down by the tea party. Does Israel still get paid or is it just Americans who are furloughed?

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