Foreign Policy History International Relations Iran President Obama

Here’s To New Beginnings

In what has been a winning streak for believers in international diplomacy going on around here lately, what between both Syria and Russia being forced to come to terms with this president’s resolve, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was contacted by President Obama this past Friday in what was an historic conversation that lasted for about fifteen minutes.

This is what diplomacy looks like:


President Obama talks with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani September 27, 2013. (Pete Souza)

I’m pretty sure the last time an American president spoke with Iranian authorities we were trading them arms for hostages in 1979 to get Ronald Reagan elected to fund some right wing death squads in Nicaragua and the eventual killing of a million Iranians at the hands of Saddam Hussein during the Iran/Iraq War. So, needless to say, relations have been cold for the past 34 years.

(Depressing Fact: On 3 July 1988, as the Iran/Iraq War was running out of bodies to burn, the United States Navy shot down Iranian Flight 655, a commercial airliner taking off from Tehran, which killed all 290 passengers and crew on board, including 66 children. The Reagan administration later gave the entire crew of the USS Vincennes Combat Action medals.)

We do things a little differently, now.

The 7th century BC silver griffin-shaped ceremonial drinking vessel returned to Iran.

On the day that President Obama spoke with Iranian President Rouhani, the U.S. State Department announced that we sent a 2, 700 year old griffin worth over a million dollars back to Iran.  Stolen from a cave in Iran in the late 80′s, the 7th century B.C. artifact was later seized in 2003 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in an antiquities-smuggling bust, where it has remained in some secret Indiana Jones warehouse where “Top Men” were guarding it until it was sent back to the Iranian people this week.

It’s like a symbolic toast to possibilities. A sort of non-alcoholic beer summit. The ancient ceremonial drinking vessel waiting to be filled with goodwill and cooperation between nations charting a better course for history.

Iranian President Rouhani spoke at the U.N. General Assembly recently, and at a news conference afterward, he didn’t disappoint, saying, “I want it to be the case that this trip will be a first step, and a beginning for better and constructive relations with countries of the world as well as a first step for a better relationship between the two great nations of Iran and the United States of America.”

Cheers to that!

  • feloniousgrammar

    Perhaps the administration could help Iraq get back all of its treasures, even if it would mean getting warrants to search all the homes and offices of the CEOs of companies that profiteered on the Iraq invasion and occupation.

  • Victor_the_Crab

    And the Republican response to this brand of outstanding international diplomacy:


    • feloniousgrammar

      Wouldn’t it be great if they all had the collective stroke they’ve been working toward and the rest of the country could get on with it? The problems of Global Warming aren’t going to solve themselves.

  • Badgerite

    “Whispered words of wisdom, Let it be!”

  • Schneibster

    The last chance we had with Iran was immediately after 9/11. They were not happy about it, and there weren’t any Iranians dancing in the streets. There was a perceptible thaw and the Iranians put out feelers about a deal.

    Bush blew it, like he always blew foreign policy. He was more interested in making up an excuse for attacking Iraq. And that’s two completely separate things he blew because he was obsessed with Saddam, because he pulled Tommy Franks off Osama’s butt in Tora Bora to plan the Iraq invasion. If he’d been merely competent he’d’ve gotten Osama; if he were as good as Obama he’d’ve had peace with Iran too.

    This is what @muselet:disqus is referring to.

    Republicans don’t actually believe they can make deals with anyone; they think they’re all as greedy as they themselves are. Obama’s right to stonewall them on their threats to shut down the government. He wins either way.

    • Badgerite

      This floored me when I read about it. According to the article by Dexter Filkins in the New Yorker, the thaw in relations between Iranian and US intelligence services ( and there was a distinct thaw, since Iran had no use for the Sunni based Al Qaeda) that had been exceedingly beneficial to the US in the fight against Al Qaeda post 9/11, died an immediate death the moment George W. Bush gave his State of the Union address which named Iran as part of an ‘Axis of Evil’. Up to that point, Iran had been reconsidering its relationship with the US. This was an epic opportunity that was lost. When the US then invaded Iraq, Iran was the power behind the throne in terms of who would govern there. Not the US. And many of the bombs that blew up US troops were made in Iran.
      Something tells me historians will be adding up the damage done during the Bush administrations for a long time to come.

  • muselet

    In 2002, relations between and Iran were improving, the two countries united by a common dislike of the Taliban. The George W. Bush Adminstration, though, managed to cock it up because GWB liked David Frum’s “Axis of Evil” line in the State of the Union address.

    And now, Rs sneer at the diplomatic efforts of the Obama Administration and rattle their sabers and pledge to stop Iran! with the lives of any number of other people’s children because ‘Murca!

    It’s enough to make a person turn to strong drink just to make it through the day.


  • drspittle

    And, not surprisingly, this milestone, along with Syria agreeing to remove its chemical weapons, has been greeted by the collective “ho-hum” from the mainslime media.