The following is a message from Barack Obama to Iran, on the 30th anniversary of the hostage crisis in which 52 Americans were held hostage in the American embassy in Tehran for 444 days:
“Thirty years ago today, the American Embassy in Tehran was seized. The 444 days that began on November 4, 1979 deeply affected the lives of courageous Americans who were unjustly held hostage, and we owe these Americans and their families our gratitude for their extraordinary service and sacrifice.
This event helped set the United States and Iran on a path of sustained suspicion, mistrust, and confrontation. I have made it clear that the United States of America wants to move beyond this past, and seeks a relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. We do not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs. We have condemned terrorist attacks against Iran. We have recognized Iran’s international right to peaceful nuclear power. We have demonstrated our willingness to take confidence-building steps along with others in the international community. We have accepted a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency to meet Iran’s request for assistance in meeting the medical needs of its people. We have made clear that if Iran lives up to the obligations that every nation has, it will have a path to a more prosperous and productive relationship with the international community.
Iran must choose. We have heard for thirty years what the Iranian government is against; the question, now, is what kind of future it is for. The American people have great respect for the people of Iran and their rich history. The world continues to bear witness to their powerful calls for justice, and their courageous pursuit of universal rights. It is time for the Iranian government to decide whether it wants to focus on the past, or whether it will make the choices that will open the door to greater opportunity, prosperity, and justice for its people.”
I posted a comment about the very fine line that Obama is walking with this message on Twitter, to which Twitter user @hawaiianbear replied with the following:
Think about this for a moment. Obama appears to talk to the regime but is actually talking to the people of Iran.
This is an insightful thought, because Obama is a very nuanced and thoughtful president. I think it can be argued that he played a part as a catalyst in the Green Movement and people’s uprising in Iran with his powerful message of change. It may well be that he is indeed playing a double-game, seemingly addressing the regime while hoping that the people of Iran read between the lines. I stated this earlier but it is worth restating: perhaps he thinks that by removing the U.S. as a threat to Iran in a very public way, by removing the 30 years of bellicosity against the Iranian regime, he takes away the regime’s trump card and excuse for their radical anti-Americanism and their nonsensical focus on national security threats from the U.S. It makes it obvious to the Iranian people that it is unreasonable to keep chanting “Death to America”. It makes it absurd really. Without this threat, the regime’s reason d’etre largely vanishes and becomes obsolete. If indeed this is Obama’s intended consequence, and if (big if) it bears fruit, he will be seen as a genius.
(Note: This was excerpted from the following live-blog entry on the events that unfolded in Iran on this day: Live Blog of November 4, 2009 anti-government uprising in Iran)