Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw)- Guest Blogger
You may be wondering who is this person named Rouhani and why would it be hard to call him/her on the phone? Would you think differently if you knew that Rouhani is Hassan Rouhani and he is the current President of Iran? As reported this past week, after President Obama and President Rouhani had both spoken at the United Nations in New York City, it was rumored that the two might actually meet in person.
While that meeting did not take place, it was reported that President Obama actually called President Rouhani on the telephone. As you can imagine, it was considered a big deal in the media that the Presidents of the United States and Iran had actually spoken on the telephone. On one level, I can understand the importance of the first direct contact between the heads of these two countries since 1979. Additionally, in light of the level of sabre rattling over Syria recently and Iran constantly, I guess it is a big deal..sort of.
“President Barack Obama and new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani spoke by telephone on Friday, the highest-level contact between the two countries in three decades and a sign that they are serious about reaching a pact on Tehran’s nuclear program.
The call is the culmination of a dramatic shift in tone between Iran and the United States, which cut diplomatic relations with Iran a year after the 1979 revolution that toppled U.S. ally Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and led to the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis in Tehran.” Reader Supported News
I do understand the political realities of talking directly to a country that many US politicians consider a terrorist cabal and one that it is claimed is attempting to develop a nuclear weapons program. I also realize that President Obama has mentioned in the past that all options “were on the table” when it came to dealing with the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program. Who can forget John McCain’s famous “Bomb, bomb bomb Iran” song and the continued distrust that hardliners express when Iran is mentioned?
However, is it really so difficult to just pick up the phone and call another chief of state? If it was so easy to jump start talks between Secretary Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, why wasn’t the call made years earlier? I wonder what “news” will be broken in the near future alleging continued Iranian nuclear misdeeds and actions and who will be behind the breaking of that so-called news.
Call me a skeptic, but I will not be surprised if this 15 minute phone conversation will be ridiculed and alarmists will once again claim that you cannot talk to your sworn enemies. It will be charged that President Obama is negotiating with terrorists and the heavens will open up now that direct contact has been made by the two Presidents.
The critics of the now infamous phone call are already lining up. ‘ “Iran’s government remains — in spite of President Rouhani’s rhetoric — a brutal, repressive theocracy,” Cantor said later in a statement. “… The President suggests there is ‘new leadership’ in Iran, yet Supreme Leader Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei remains the true ruler in Tehran, and we are only fooling ourselves when we suggest otherwise.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, saw the discussion not as a breakthrough but as a capitulation.
“Our damaging sanctions have gotten Rouhani on the phone,” Royce said in a statement. “We must increase the economic pressure until Iran stops its nuclear drive.” ‘ NBC News
As stated earlier, I submit that this phone call should have been undertaken years ago. It may not have led to anything concrete, but can it ever really hurt to maintain contacts with people and countries that you disagree with? Do those who are against any direct discussions really care if the tensions are eased or are they playing a less than honest game?
A phone call is just two people speaking with each other. What harm can be done by listening to and talking to the “other side’? Speaking with Iran is not tantamount to allowing them to build an offensive nuclear weapons program, is it? If we refuse to speak to Iran and other countries that we consider enemies of the state, is there ever a chance of breaking the ice between the countries?
While we should proceed cautiously, it is vitally important to the United States, Iran and the rest of the world for the two countries to have an open dialogue on all pressing issues. I am glad the call was made before the government is shut down. I can only imagine President Rouhani’s disgust if President Obama had to make a collect call!
Do you think the phone call was an important first step? What protections should the United States insist upon when negotiating with Iran over its nuclear ambitions? Will the Military Industrial Complex sit idly by while the Obama Administration talks and negotiates with Iran? Finally, do you think the NSA was listening to this phone call??