This story originally appeared at Truthdig. Robert Scheer is the author of The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street (Nation Books).
Finally, Barack Obama may prove deserving of his Nobel Peace Prize by joining with England, France, China, Russia and Germany in negotiating an eminently sensible rapprochement with Iran on its nuclear program. Following on his pullback from war with Syria and instead, successfully negotiating the destruction of that country’s supply of chemical weapons, this is another bold step to fulfill the peacemaking promise that got him elected president in the first place.
As Obama reminded his audience at an event Monday in San Francisco, he was fulfilling the pledge from his first campaign to usher in a “new era of American leadership, one that turned the page on a decade of war.” As a candidate in 2007, he committed to engage in “aggressive personal diplomacy” with Iran’s leaders, and he has now done just that.
This is potentially an international game changer comparable to Richard Nixon’s opening to Mao’s Red China and Ronald Reagan’s overtures to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, two examples of heroic diplomacy that combined to destroy the underpinnings of the Cold War. Those who continually call for regime change in Iran as a condition for improved relations with that country, as Obama’s critics are now doing, ignore that history.
It is also true that the religious leaders of Iran came to power after a previous US effort at regime change—replacing a democratic secular leader with the despotic shah—failed miserably. The Israelis who are now giving Obama such a difficult time on dealing with Iran might also adopt some humility, since it was their Mossad spies who helped train the shah’s agents in the fine art of prisoner interrogation. Yesterday’s prisoners sometimes end up today’s negotiators.
Evidently, this has also been a casebook study in diplomacy pursued for years at the president’s insistence with much international cooperation and at the highest level of effectiveness. But instead of celebrating the president’s returning to his original promise as peacemaker, the warmongers of both parties in Congress, egged on by the unholy alliance of Saudi Arabia and Israel, are crying foul. Their outrage is an affront to morality and logic, as well as a stark betrayal of a legitimate public concern over the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Obama’s critics clearly prefer the murky unknown of rank speculation to the reality check of on-site inspection when it comes to preventing nuclear proliferation. How can it be a bad thing to call Iran’s bluff—if that’s what it is—on its nuclear program being designed for peaceful purposes?