The Obama Administration
- During his campaign and after taking office, President Obama repeatedly declared his determination to break the 30-year downward spiral in U.S.-Iranian relations.
- During his first two years in office, Obama twice wrote Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but did not receive a response to his second letter. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad twice wrote Obama, but did not receive a reply.
- Iran, beset by internal political battles, has had trouble changing the patterns of the past. At the same time, the Obama administration faced congressional pressure to take tougher action against Tehran.
- Both sides claim the other is not responsive to its messages, and both risk falling into the familiar, dysfunctional ways of the past when confronted with perceived intransigence by the other.
- Never say yes to anything. You will look weak. Insist the other side must change first.
- Anything the other side proposes must contain some subtle trick. Its only goal is to cheat us.
- The other side is infinitely hostile, devious, and irrational. Its actions prove its implacable hostility.
- Whenever the smallest progress is made, someone or some diabolical coincidence will derail it.
- Obama was willing to go further than any previous administration in normalizing relations with Iran. Despite repeated setbacks, Washington continued to look for opportunities to crack the diplomatic door open.
- But the road ahead is likely to be frustrated by Iran’s fears, internal political friction and mutual hostility built up over 30 years without communication.
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“The Iran Primer” brings together 50 experts—Western and Iranian—in comprehensive but concise online chapters on Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program. It chronicles U.S.-Iran relations under six U.S. presidents. It also offers policy options, timelines, leader bios, data on nuclear sites—and context for what lies ahead. Click here to order a hardcopy. Timely articles are added weekly at the top.