The Obama Doctrine Begins to Take Shape

On Nowruz, The President Signals a 'New Day' in US-Iranian Relations
The video is embargoed for the press until tomorrow morning but the President has recorded a videotape message for the people of Iran on the start of the Norwuz Festival. Nowruz is a 12-day pre-Islamic Zoroastrian holiday that begins on Friday. Nowruz translates literally as "New Day" and marks the beginning of Spring and the start of the new year in Zoroastrian calendar.

In his message, the President asserts that "the United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations" and goes on to note that with rights come "real responsibilities." It is a message full of respect aimed at both the Iranian people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic. The President addresses Iran by its full name, unlike the Bush White House who often disparaged Tehran by calling it the "Iranian regime," which of course fit the Bush paradigm of regime change. None of that is in the Obama video message. It's one of equals working towards a partnership.

The transcript of the President's message to the people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran is below the fold.

Today I want to extend my very best wishes to all who are celebrating Nowruz around the world.

This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.

In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture.  Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place.

Here in the United States our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans.  We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.

For nearly three decades relations between our nations have been strained.  But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together.  Indeed, you will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays -- by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope.

Within these celebrations lies the promise of a new day, the promise of opportunity for our children, security for our families, progress for our communities, and peace between nations.  Those are shared hopes, those are common dreams.

So in this season of new beginnings I would like to speak clearly to Iran's leaders.  We have serious differences that have grown over time.  My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community.  This process will not be advanced by threats.  We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.

You, too, have a choice.  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.

So on the occasion of your New Year, I want you, the people and leaders of Iran, to understand the future that we seek.  It's a future with renewed exchanges among our people, and greater opportunities for partnership and commerce.  It's a future where the old divisions are overcome, where you and all of your neighbors and the wider world can live in greater security and greater peace.

I know that this won't be reached easily.  There are those who insist that we be defined by our differences.  But let us remember the words that were written by the poet Saadi, so many years ago:  "The children of Adam are limbs to each other, having been created of one essence."

With the coming of a new season, we're reminded of this precious humanity that we all share.  And we can once again call upon this spirit as we seek the promise of a new beginning.

Thank you, and Eid-eh Shoma Mobarak.

An Obama Doctrine Takes Shape
The remarks are well-balanced acknowledging "serious differences" but also extending an olive branch to work through those differences through "peaceful actions" envisioning "a future with renewed exchanges". The President's remarks also begin to define the outlines of an Obama Doctrine. While it is still too early to fully articulate the totality of an Obama Doctrine, it is clearly not the Bush Doctrine of American exceptionalism and unilateralism. The Obama Administration is committed to diplomatic avenues that addresses the full range of issues that separate the United States and its adversaries based on engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect and to pursuing constructive ties that provide greater opportunities for partnership and commerce.

[Update] The video has now been released.

Tags: Obama Administration, Obama Doctrine, US Foreign Policy, US-Iranian Relations (all tags)




Too bad, though, that the American press will probably ignore this.

by S1 2009-03-20 04:33AM | 0 recs
But, the world press will not!

Once again, America returns to the league of nations!

Yes, as angry as I am about Terry Shaivo-ing AIG, Obama everyday makes me glad I sent in all that money!

by WashStateBlue 2009-03-20 05:10AM | 0 recs
Re: But, the world press will not!

I think Obama really has the best understanding of that region compared to any other President we have had in my lifetime.

by Pravin 2009-03-20 05:26AM | 0 recs
Its important to remember the people of Teheran

were out on the streets by the thousands - in tears, on September 11, 2001, to decry the violence perpetrated against the people of New York City and Washington.

OTOH, years ago I had a friend whose whole family had been killed by the mullahs because of the political activities of one brother. He was the only person who had survived.

But, by eliminating the moderates by overthrowing Mossadeq and supporting the Shah, IMO, we were in part responsible for the extremist government and the whole ugly situation. Its time that we put that whole period to rest BY BEING HONEST ABOUT IT.

For most Americans who seem to have extremely short memories the history of Iran's interactions with the West is pretty illuminating and also pretty depressing. Especially when you see the sordid nature of how our manufactured addiction to oil seems to drive everything about Western behavior with nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

by architek 2009-03-20 05:12AM | 0 recs
oh they won't ignore it

they'll just put on "expert" after "expert" who will bash Obama for it and say he's putting our lives at risk

by DTOzone 2009-03-20 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: oh they won't ignore it

that's how we'll know he's right.

by the mollusk 2009-03-20 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama Doctrine Begins to Take Shape

Unimaginable three months ago.

Elections have consequences and America is capable of rebirth and growth if it elects a man of wisdom, compassion and strength able to reach out to adveraries in such a human way.


by hastingspete 2009-03-20 05:13AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama Doctrine Begins to Take Shape

Looks like the Obama foreign policy team is off to a much better start than the Bush-Cheney team.

Those right wingers have the audacity to bring up terrorism is making a comeback talking points against Obama.

by Pravin 2009-03-20 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama Doctrine Begins to Take Shape

Obviously, if the US or Israel bombed Iranian nuclear facilities, the economic consequences would throw the US, perhaps the world, into a vast depression, because Iran would likely retaliate by blocking the Straits of Hormuz. That would cut off a third of the world's supply of oil.

Obama's days in office would be numbered.

Iran has the upper hand, and as it was said during the Cold War, Israel had better learn to live with the bomb, else risk US support. Israel was offered full recognition in the Middle East community of Arab nations in return for a Palestinian state in 2002 and beyond. There's even a belief out there that Iran, under a more moderate government, repeated the offer through the Swiss embassy in 2003. It is still on the table. All of these offers were refused, obviously because Israel intends at some point to annex the Palestinian territories and turn itself into an Apartheid fascist state. It colonization of those territories goes on apace this very day.

Unless Obama is a fool, he must know what he has to do, and his amicable approach to Iran is just a first step.

by MainStreet 2009-03-20 05:51AM | 0 recs
Re: The Obama Doctrine Begins to Take Shape

I'll let my hope-addiction shine for a moment.

There may be some truth to what you say, but I don't think it's quite so stark.  Sure, if we bombed the facilities in Iran there would be some consequences economically and politically.  But this would be very bad for Iran as well.  And they know it.  So there is a mutual need for the U.S. and Iran to work together.  That's what is so smart about Obama's approach and so dumb about Bush's approach.  There are many different ways in which Iran needs the world community.  Nuclear power is a good (but not the only) example.  Similarly, an Iran engaged with the world is far better than one that is not.  There seem to be opportunities for Iran and the U.S. to work together on the Afghanistan problem as well.  They want a stable state there as much as anybody.  Also, I would venture an uneducated guess that Iran offers the best hope for a stable, democratic, and reasonably economically diverse nation in the Persian Gulf region.  Who else fills this role?

by the mollusk 2009-03-20 10:19AM | 0 recs


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