By Ben Cohen
Nana Ampofo (a contributor at the Banter) writes about my negative post on Obama's message to Iran:
doesn't seem fair to me. First, much of politics is symbolism and
rhetoric. Ahmadinejad sent a letter of congratulations to Obama upon
his election victory but made no policy changes. Still that was not a
vacuous act. Obama's message stands in sharp contrast with the "war on
terror", "with us or against us", "axis of evil" type rhetoric of the
past eight years. A welcome change, I believe. It creates room for
negotiation, be it between the US and Iran, or the US and Russia on the
subject of Iran. Second, the Obama administration is still forming
policy. He only came into office in January. I think we should see the
Nowruz message as part of a process rather than the sum total of
Obama's Iran policy.
I sincerely hope Nana is correct, although I just didn't think it was enough. I'm worried Obama will try to be too hawkish on foreign policy (witness the increased troop presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan), and end up in another giant quagmire worse than he inherited. Iran will be key to an effective strategy in the Middle East, so I think bigger gestures will be needed.