President Obama reaches out to Iran

President Obama reached out to Iran on the 20th of March with a video message where he made it clear that the US was knowledgeable of, and respected, Iran's people and culture. He offered Iran the chance for the "Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations" and offered some conditions for that to happen. Basically, Iran must be a responsible world citizen. WorldTribune.com says "Israel has sought a U.S. commitment to limit its dialogue with Iran" but that the "White House and the senior echelon of the Obama administration have refused a dialogue with Israel on the Iranian threat."

Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi had no difficulty getting access to all manner of US officials upon his visit last year with the Bush Administration, but didn't find his reception very warm with the Obama Administration. He was able to get a meeting with only National Security Advisor James Jones and Jones only wanted to discuss Israeli relations with the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Obama Administration refused to "make it clear that the military option against Iran's nuclear program exists."

The Wall Street Journal makes it clear that conservative pro-Israelis have something to worry about.

The Obama administration is considering lifting a ban on regular diplomatic contacts with Iran and looking at ways to develop a direct line of communication to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, said officials briefed on the deliberations.

It was wryly noted that the competition was hot and heavy, but Robert Spencer of "Jihad Watch" was the first right-wing blogger "out of the gate" to deploy words like "appeasement" and "aggression." And the Rosett Report of Pajamas Media was the first to bring up Neville Chamberlain and Munich in 1938. Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a group that supports U.S. engagement with Tehran, notes that: "[Obama is] signaling he’s not looking for regime change; he’s recognizing Iran’s system." That's a pretty darn huge difference between this president and the last one.

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment evaluates Obama's efforts in the following way:

Ultimately it takes two to tango, and at the moment, hardliners in Tehran who are not interested in having an amicable relationship with the United States have an inordinate amount of influence.
Rather than strengthen these hardliners, Obama’s overtures will put pressure on them to justify their often gratuitous enmity toward the United States. Most Iranians recognize that, in 2009, the “death to America” culture of 1979 is obsolete—it only prevents the country from fulfilling its enormous potential.
Whereas the Bush administration united Iran’s disparate political actors against a common external threat, the Obama administration, I believe, is going to deepen the divisions and incongruities among Iran’s political elites.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei sounds very unimpressed with Obama's overture, showing that it's far too early to judge the results.

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