Hassan Rouhani’s inauguration as Iran’s new president revives hope for resolving the Iranian nuclear dispute, but continued belligerency from the U.S. Congress and Israeli leaders could dash the opportunity – as could American misreading of regional trends, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett explain.
With Iran’s election of Hassan Rohani as the new president, the West is confronted with the PR dilemma of not having Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to kick around anymore. But there is a route to a more constructive relationship, if Official Washington would lessen its hostility, write Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.
The mainstream U.S. news media always blames Iran for the nuclear dispute, while ignoring other key facts like Israel’s rogue nuclear arsenal and the failure of the West to offer Iran meaningful sanctions relief. But Iran’s election of Hassan Rouhani creates a chance for mutual concessions, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
Four years ago, the U.S. news media pronounced Iran’s elections a fraud despite no hard evidence, and predicted a similar outcome again this year. But the election of Hassan Rouhani is now hailed as a democratic victory, a paradox addressed by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett and Seyed Mohammad Marandi.
Every four years when Iran holds presidential elections, U.S. journalists travel to Tehran, hang out with middle-class English speakers and – when the vote tallies are in – insist that the electoral outcome must have been rigged. But that typically reflects a lack of U.S. media objectivity about Iran, say Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.
With a reasonable compromise within reach on Iran’s nuclear program, the Obama administration pulled back, apparently fearing domestic political fallout. The result means a likely painful stalemate for the foreseeable future, as Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett describe.
President Obama has indicated that he wants a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran, especially limiting its nuclear program, but he has hesitated taking the kind of positive steps that President Nixon did in his opening to China more than four decades ago, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett observe.
America’s “tough-guy-ism” plays well at home, with politicians competing to see whose bluster is the most belligerent, but works less well with the targeted countries whose leaders have their own imperatives of politics and pride. President Obama is risking failure in Iran nuclear talks if he ignores this reality, say Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett.
In a pre-Super Bowl interview, President Obama urged Iranian leaders to renounce nuclear weapons, which Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei did, labeling them a “grave sin.” But Khamenei’s fatwa against nukes was not new, just widely ignored by Official Washington, as Gareth Porter explains in this Inter Press Service analysis.