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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The New York Times, "Obama Speaks to President of Iran in First Talk Since 1979": A Toke and a Smile Diplomacy

Oh please, say to me
You'll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
I'll let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
- "I Want to Hold Your Hand," The Beatles, 1963

In a New York Times article entitled "Obama Speaks to President of Iran in First Talk Since 1979" ( by Peter Baker, we are told that Obama, who tried mightily but failed to shake Hassan Rouhani's hand at the UN, succeeded in calling Iran's president on his way to New York's Kennedy Airport. The article describes this very brief conversation, which made world headlines, as follows:

"A senior Obama administration official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity because of diplomatic sensitivities, said the White House had expressed the president’s interest in meeting Mr. Rouhani to the Iranians this week but was surprised when they suggested the phone call. Mr. Obama placed the call from the Oval Office around 2:30 p.m., joined by aides and a translator.

He opened by congratulating Mr. Rouhani on his election in June and noted the history of mistrust between the two nations, but also what he called the constructive statements Mr. Rouhani had made during his stay in New York, according to the official. The bulk of the call focused on the nuclear dispute, and Mr. Obama repeated that he respected Iran’s right to develop civilian nuclear energy, but insisted on concessions to prevent development of weapons.

Mr. Obama also raised the cases of three Americans in Iran, one missing and two others detained. In a lighter moment, he apologized for New York traffic.

The call ended on a polite note, according to the official and Mr. Rouhani’s Twitter account.

'Have a nice day,' Mr. Rouhani said in English.

'Thank you,' Mr. Obama replied, and then tried a Persian farewell. 'Khodahafez.'"

And so, beginning with his March 2009 Nowruz message to the Iranian people, Obama has finally managed a fifteen-minute conversation with Iran's new president. What an incredible breakthrough . . . not.

It should first be noted that Rouhani is claiming that Obama initiated the conversation and not the other way around as claimed by the "senior Obama administration official" (see:

But more to the point:

  1. In a pre-election interview, Rouhani, all smiles, bragged how he had lulled the West into complacency while radically expanding Iran's nuclear weapons development program (see: Are Obama and friends truly daft enough to believe that Rouhani's latest charm campaign is anything other than another attempt to buy time to allow Tehran to build its first nuclear weapon? But following Obama's Syrian "red line" debacle, the entire world knows that America's president seeks to avoid violent confrontation at any price.
  2. Hassan Rouhani is not Iran's boss. Iran's less-than-charming Supreme Leader Khamenei calls the shots. Khamenei is going to dismantle his multi-year investment in building Iran's first atomic bomb? This nuclear weapons development program is to Khamenei what Obamacare is to Obama. What are they smoking in the West Wing and at the US State Department?
  3. Obama's parting farewell, "Khodahafez"? The Persian translation of "Khodahafez" is "May God be your Guardian." Well, there is nothing "Godly" about the Islamic Republic of Iran. A pity that Obama doesn't take the time to educate himself about the horrifying oppression of Iran's Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, homosexuals and women. A pity that Obama can't take a tour of Tehran's infamous Evan Prison.

Bottom line: "Speak softly and carry a big stick" has been replaced by Obama's "A Toke and a Smile" diplomacy, a product of his never having to deal with bullies over the course of his exclusive private schooling.

Do you remember Father Flanagan's famous line, "There's no such thing as a bad boy"? Well there is such a thing as a "bad" leader. The world is rife with them, many of whom congregated at the UN this past week.

"May God be our guardian"? With Obama at the helm, I prefer, "May God help us."

1 comment:

  1. Obama will be remembered as the American President who lost Canada, over the Keystone Pipeline.

    Yeah, he just 'lost Brazil', but the USA has never had strong bilateral ties with Brazil.

    But Canada? PM Harper now saying he will not take no for an answer on the pipeline. This goes far deeper than the Softwood Trade Wars...