Guardian: The letter the Obama team Hopes will heal Iran rift

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Officials of Barack Obama's administration have drafted a letter to Iran from the president aimed at unfreezing US-Iranian relations and opening the way for face-to-face talks, the Guardian has learned.

The US state department has been working on drafts of the letter since Obama was elected on 4 November last year. It is in reply to a lengthy letter of congratulations sent by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on 6 November.

Diplomats said Obama's letter would be a symbolic gesture to mark a change in tone from the hostile one adopted by the Bush administration, which portrayed Iran as part of an "axis of evil".

Read it all.



Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIran

10 Comments
Posted January 29, 2009 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Tar Heel wrote:

Write them a letter? BRILLIANT!!!  (Guess I’ve been watching too many Guinness ads).

But seriously, a letter?  You know what their response will be - - “drop your support of Israel and withdraw all your troops from around the world, and then we’ll talk.”

January 29, 10:25 am | [comment link]
2. John Wilkins wrote:

Tar Heel, I am I to assume you think that BO is the first president of the US to ever respond to a letter to the head of a foreign country?

It’s a good move to write a letter.  Plan for contingencies, however. 

We’ve tried the Bush Approach since 2001.  The Iranian reformers were then elected out, and the hardliners in Iran won because the US seemed arrogant.  Tar heel’s rhetoric works with a country that doesn’t have much pride. 

Talking like a bully sometimes works, its true.  But over the lat 8 years it seems to have emboldened Iran.

January 29, 10:40 am | [comment link]
3. libraryjim wrote:

Tar heel,
According to the news last night, that was exactly the response Achiwantajihad said, adding that the US MUST apologize for the treatment Iran has received from America in the last 60 years.

January 29, 12:21 pm | [comment link]
4. Tar Heel wrote:

No, John Wilkins, I’m aware that diplomatic communication can take many forms, letters, included.  And I have no problem with the new administration trying every avenue.  Just seems somewhat naive on our part to think their hard line leaders have any interest in talking - - as borne out in LibaryJim’s comment.

Are you a 007 fan?  Remember the scene in “Goldfinger” where Bond is tethered to a metal bed about to be cut in half by a laser beam, and he asks Goldfinger, “do you want me to talk?”  And the villain responds, “No, Mr. Bond, I want you to DIE.”  I think that’s the way Acmeieitoeiurigiiebejab feels about us.

January 29, 2:20 pm | [comment link]
5. Billy wrote:

JW, #2:  “We’ve tried the Bush Approach since 2001.  The Iranian reformers were then elected out, and the hardliners in Iran won because the US seemed arrogant. ”  What?  Hardliners are now in control in Iran because the US seemed arrogant?  The US’s position toward Iran determined who won an election in Iran?  Are you kidding me?  There are free elections in Iran?  And the people of Iran base their votes on how US treats Iran?  I guess this election must have been one that Jimmy Carter monitored.  Come on JW; you simply can’t blame all the problems around the world on Bush 43.  There really are some bad guys out there that all you can do is keep them at bay.  Talking to them only puts you in a weaker position - like with Iran and with North Korea.  (Though the refusal to have anything but multi-lateral talks with N. Korea seemed to be having some good effect, Mr. Obama is now going back to the failed policy of Mr. Clinton of direct one on one talks.  That worked so well for Mr. Clinton that it produced the problems that Bush had to deal with.

January 29, 3:18 pm | [comment link]
6. LeightonC wrote:

Peace in our time…sound familiar?  Neville Chamberlain lives!

January 30, 11:19 am | [comment link]
7. libraryjim wrote:

What do you call a person who brings a gun to a knife fight?

The winner.

Obama isn’t even bringing a knife to the gun fight, however. I suspect he hasn’t read the rules (history) of this conflict, and has believed the political spin put on it by his party as part of their ‘trash Bush’ program.

January 30, 12:36 pm | [comment link]
8. John Wilkins wrote:

Tar Heel, the problem is that we’re basing foreign policy on Bond films. 

Obama knows he’s got the most powerful military in the world behind him.  He’s not scared of Iran.  He can afford to be magnanimous.  The president of Iran can bluster al he wants, but he’s not got a lot of power.  Further, most of the time he’s playing to the Muslim audience.

Ahmedinejad does not benefit from an Obama presidency, because his fundamental belief is that America is an aggressor.  Diplomacy is simply not what Ahmed wants - he prefers, in his own way - conflict.

Billy, blogging isn’t the best way to argue.  But here goes.  In 2003, Iran made a series of proposals to the US.  Cooperation on nuclear programs, acceptance of Israel and the termination of Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups.  On the table.  Rejected by the US.  Perhaps the “axis of evil” comment worked, because Iran made the offer.

What would any state think of such a rejection?  What Iran decided was that America was the hostile partner.  Given the history (which the US, at different times, has apologized for, including the overthrow of the democratic regime in the 1950’s), Iran would be justified in thinking such.

Iran does have elections. They aren’t open like the west, but as such it has real differences than Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.

January 30, 12:49 pm | [comment link]
9. John Wilkins wrote:

But I do like Bond, Tar Heel.  Thank you for asking.  Don’t take my harsh tone personally.  It’s a blog.

January 30, 12:51 pm | [comment link]
10. Katherine wrote:

Egypt has elections.  Like Iran, they aren’t “open like the west,” but they do occur.  Probably it’s more open here than in Iran, but not as open as Iraq.

January 30, 2:43 pm | [comment link]
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