Opinion

Obama gets on the same page with Iran (‘we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past’)

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The Iranian nuclear talks are continuing another day in Vienna. Indications are that the parties are getting closer all the time:

Presence & dialog bet @JohnKerry& @JZarif during extended period of time is highly significant& shows determination.

Laura Rozen:

[State Dep’t spokesperson Marie] Harf: [Sec’y of State John] Kerry will remain in Vienna to continue discussions with P5+1, EU high rep [Federica] Mogherini & Iran FM [Javad] Zarif

Though Andrea Mitchell poured cold water over the deal last night on NBC. And Ted Cruz wants Kerry to come home.

But (as we noted yesterday) Iran is pushing the deal so as to fight “extremism” in the region. And President Obama seems to be on the same page. Yesterday, just in time for the Vienna talks, made a statement about fighting “this scourge of violent extremism” — Islamic extremists in Syria and Iraq, ISIL– and his message contained several signals that he wants Iran’s help as a partner:

It is not enough for us to simply send in American troops to temporarily set back organizations like ISIL, but to then, as soon as we leave, see that void filled once again with extremists.  It is going to be vital for us to make sure that we are preparing the kinds of local ground forces and security forces with our partners that can not only succeed against ISIL, but then sustain in terms of security and in terms of governance.

Because if we try to do everything ourselves all across the Middle East, all across North Africa, we’ll be playing Whack-a-Mole and there will be a whole lot of unintended consequences that ultimately make us less secure.

And was this a sign that he is distancing himself from Israel, and its neverending denial of Palestinian rights?

Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people — those can be powerful antidotes to extremist ideologies.  Those are the countries that will find a true partner in the United States….

We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. That was the president’s powerful statement praising “change” last week when he announced reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba:

The progress that we mark today is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past. When something isn’t working, we can -– and will –- change…

Time and again, America has demonstrated that part of our leadership in the world is our capacity to change.  It’s what inspires the world to reach for something better.

A year ago, it might have seemed impossible that the United States would once again be raising our flag, the stars and stripes, over an embassy in Havana.  This is what change looks like.

“This is what change looks like” also applies to the Iran relationship, of course. Obama is deadset on making the Iran deal part of his legacy.

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I HATE TO SAY THIS, BUT:
I almost hope they don’t reach an agreement, because I don’t want to hear all the caterwauling from Netanyahu and the Likudniks (including much of the U.S. Congress)!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPhwKiiWzoA

“The dispute between the US and Iran about its nuclear activities was made in Washington. It arose because the US attempted to deny Iran its “inalienable right” under the NPT to engage in uranium enrichment and other nuclear activity for peaceful purposes under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA)”. So say David Morrison and Peter Oborne http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/made-washington-how-us-manufactured-iranian-nuclear-threat-1783807235 Obama’s willingness to do a deal would not be part of a comprehensive rapprochement, in… Read more »

Isn’t it odd that the story of an unnamed country spying on the talks a week or two ago just disappeared within 24 hours. Did it even reach your side of the Atlantic?

I heard Philip Gordon interviewed on radio a couple of days ago. He said that we have interests in common with Iran (like wanting to eliminate ISIS) and that it would be a catastrophe if Assad were overthrown in the present situation.

“Nations that empower citizens to decide their own destiny, that uphold human rights for all their people, that invest in education and create opportunities for their young people — those can be powerful antidotes to extremist ideologies. Those are the countries that will find a true partner in the United States….”

And you believe that making a deal with the leading state supporter of terrorism, a theocratic dictatorship, reflects this?