'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The First Hopeful Sign 

From The Guardian:

Officials of Barack Obama's administration have drafted a letter to Iran from the president aimed at unfreezing US-Iranian relations and opening the way for face-to-face talks, the Guardian has learned.

The US state department has been working on drafts of the letter since Obama was elected on 4 November last year. It is in reply to a lengthy letter of congratulations sent by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on 6 November.

Diplomats said Obama's letter would be a symbolic gesture to mark a change in tone from the hostile one adopted by the Bush administration, which portrayed Iran as part of an "axis of evil".

It would be intended to allay the ­suspicions of Iran's leaders and pave the way for Obama to engage them directly, a break with past policy.

State department officials have composed at least three drafts of the letter, which gives assurances that Washington does not want to overthrow the Islamic regime, but merely seeks a change in its behaviour. The letter would be addressed to the Iranian people and sent directly to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or released as an open letter.

Will the letter be sent? We will just have to wait and see. Now that the drafts have been publicized, there will undoubtedly be intense opposition from the usual suspects to prevent it. If sent, a small step to be sure, but one that starts a journey down the road to more normalized relations, relations based upon the boundaries of disagreement and conflict, instead of threats of regime change and military action. It would also suggest movement towards a less confrontational relationship with Chavez and Morales in South America as well. If it isn't sent . . . well, let's not think about that too much for now.

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