(The New York Times) | March 4, 2010
By Roger Cohen

PARIS — A year has passed since President Obama’s groundbreaking Nowruz offer to Iran of engagement based on mutual respect. Iran is now a different country, its divided regime weaker and confronted by the Green movement, the strongest expression of people power in the Middle East and a beacon for the region.

Obama’s outreach has achieved this: the unsettling of Iran’s revolutionary power structure. That alone was worth the gambit. But the 31-year gridlock in Iranian-American relations endures. Sarah Palin, no less, is now urging Obama to “declare war on Iran” to save his presidency. She’s not alone. Daniel Pipes, the conservative commentator, called a recent National Review column: “How to save the Obama Presidency: Bomb Iran.”

There’s nothing new in U.S. hawks reducing Iran to a nuclear abstraction, its 70 million citizens subsumed into a putative warhead, its civilization ignored and its historical grievances against the United States glossed over — all in the name of making Persia a U.S. electoral pawn and a threat that demands bombs.

But the war option remains unthinkable, a potential disaster for the United States and Israel. It’s therefore worth outlining, before the drumbeat intensifies in the run-up to the mid-term U.S. elections, 10 truths about Iran.

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