Columns / Discourse / October 16, 2013

Middle School or international dialogue?

Amid the partial government shutdown, and the Chicago Marathon on this cloudy city morning, U.S.-Iran negotiations are taking place at lightning speed after 30 years of absolutely zero personal communication between the presidents of both Iran and the United States.

For the past 20 years, the threat of nuclear developments in Iran has been alarming Western diplomats, causing them to begin negotiations in order to deter the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. Finally, after a lack of communication, President Barack Obama and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, have finally recognized one another’s existence.

The first conversation between these two detached and unfriendly presidents occurred via 15 minute phone call.

Is a U.S.-Iran peace détente actually practical after 30 years of animosity and withholding communication? Was a 15 minute phone call the most pragmatic action that could have been taken? I guess the Obama and Rouhani administrations are taking very diminutive baby steps toward diplomatic peace. Although a 15 minute phone call might be more appropriate for two teenage girls that got over a fight in middle school, the simple call between the two presidents opened up a gateway for hopeful further connection. It signifies the want to create a resolution of peace and détente between the two states. Hopefully, real-fighting, peacemaking action will occur in the days to come after that nonchalant phone call!

I’m optimistic and skeptical all at once. Recognizing that there has not been Iranian-U.S. communication in nearly three decades, it is a huge feat for both presidents to speak to one another.  However, Rouhani is acting very quickly, attempting to create a nuclear détente between the two countries while only allowing three to six months to reach a resolution.

After 30 years of no communication followed by a 15 minute phone call, how can there be a détente in three to six months? This is where the skepticism comes in. This is not middle school. One cannot just resolve every problem they’ve had with another, in this case over a span of 30 years, in under a year! The conflict between the U.S. and Iran is much greater than two girls fighting over accidentally wearing the same shirt on the same day.

Although Rouhani has stated his interest in loosening censorship laws and increasing the role of women in government, there are many domestic problems in the region. For example, in this day, women in Iran would not be able to participate in anything like the Chicago Marathon where 45.1 percent of the participants were women in 2012.

United States sanctions have been placed on Iran since 1979, with Obama extending those sanctions during six years of his term as president. These sanctions have created high inflation, worrisome economic problems and isolation and shortages of basic human supplies such as food and medicine. Bitta Mostofi, an Iranian human right activist, echoes her confusion and believes that Obama ended international diplomacy in Iran “when he pushed for sanctions that bring medical shortages and hardships to ordinary Iranians.”

Aside from this problem, the issue of creating a nuclear détente will be difficult with both countries attempting to negotiate based on their greatest national interest. Thirty years of no dialogue will not be able to fix the problems of the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons, unless both the United States and Iran are both willing to give up something during the negotiations.

There is some opposition within Iran toward Rouhani’s actions of reaching out to the United States. Although Khamenei supports Rouhani, he still feels doubtful about the intentions of the United States. Khamenei states, “We are skeptical of Americans and have no trust in them at all. The American government is untrustworthy, arrogant, illogical and a promise-breaker. It’s a government captured by the international Zionism network.”

Among the problem, at least U.S.-Iran détente negotiations are on the horizon!

Maybe.

A 15 minutes phone call might open up the recently locked gateway between the two countries, creating much needed dialogue amid the two presidents. However, it will take much more than the maximum six months to iron out the final details of peace between the United States and Iran. After all, this isn’t middle school.

Hiba Ahmed

Tags:  Iran nuclear developments obama Rouhani U.S.

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  • Khalid Uncle

    A good Article .



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