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!