What to Make of Obama's Iran Video

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Ben Cohen
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By Ben Cohen

The media has been cockahoop over Barack Obama's video message to Iran, hailing it as a 'New Approach to relations with the Middle Eastern power. In truth, Obama's outreach to Iran wasn't really much of an outreach.

Firstly, Obama didn't really say much, other than he wanted to focus on common ground. Secondly, the slightly condescending and lecturing tone won't go down well with the Iranian leaders. Obama continued the tradition of chastising them for using threatening language, and assuming a position of superiority in the international community. He said, "The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its
rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but
it comes with real responsibilities and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather
through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the
Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is
not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build
and create."

American politicians have openly threatened Iran with annihilation, nuclear attack and economic embargo, and have preemptively attacked two of its neighboring countries. The idea that America has reached a place of responsibility after its atrocious behavior over the past 8 years is simply laughable, and the Iranians won't view it any differently.

There were positives in the address, Obama praised Iranian culture and art, and the tone was far more conciliatory than any other Democrat or Republican thus far. The Iranian response has been luke warm, which was to be expected, but it is a sign that both sides are willing to take further steps. However, if real progress is to be made, the U.S must adopt radically different language that places Iran on a equal footing. Tehran holds the cards to substantial reformation of the Middle East, and America really isn't in a place to negotiate. The economy is in free fall, the military over stretched and Israel/Palestine situation in dire straights. All of this costs time and money, of which America has none. The time for negotiation is now, and it must be done right. Obama's first attempt is an improvement, but not nearly enough.