Tag Archives: Hezbollah

U.S.-Iran breakthrough, or breakdown?

President Obama made a historic phone call today.

He telephoned Hasan Rouhani, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The two men chatted for about 15 minutes, after which President Obama informed the world that he believes a deal to derail any Iranian effort to build a nuclear weapon could be struck.


Some folks are hailing the phone call as a thawing of a 34-year-old freeze between the two nations. The last phone call between U.S. and Iranian heads of state occurred in 1979 when Jimmy Carter was president of the United States. It all went to hell later that year when Iranian “students” stormed our embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days.

Rouhani is sounding as though he wants to normalize relations with the United States and rejoin the world community. He’s launched something of a charm offensive of late, talking to a U.S. news network and speaking calmly at the United Nations. I am not totally comfortable plunging ahead with such an effort. I hope Barack Obama retains a degree of skepticism and moves very carefully.

We need to remember that for decades Iran has declared virtual war against the “Great Satan,” meaning the United States. It has declared its intention to wipe Israel off the face of the planet. It has supplied arms and other know-how to international terrorist groups, such as al-Qaida. It arms the Syrian dictator in his war against rebels. It has cozied up to Hezbollah and Hamas, two sworn enemies of Israel. The incendiary statements of Rouhani’s immediate predecessor as president also should not be dismissed and tossed aside.

A single phone call shouldn’t signal a “thaw.” It well might mean that it’s time to turn the temperature up just a bit to begin the thawing of relations.

But just as the late President Ronald Reagan said of Soviet strongman Mikhail Gorbachev, “Trust, but verify,” it is good to seek multiple verifications of any statement that comes from an Iranian president that might signal a new era in relations between two longtime enemies.

Here’s hoping today’s phone call has opened the door to that new era.

Our nation is all ears, Mr. President

President Obama is going to speak to the nation on Tuesday in an effort to persuade his fellow Americans that a military strike against Syria is the right thing to do at precisely the right time.

I’m looking forward to this presidential speech.


It’s not that I really need persuading that Syria needs to be punished. It used chemical weapons to kill civilians, including small children and women. That act needs a response. I do need persuading, though, that the president has signed off on a precise plan that includes an exit strategy. It needs a beginning, middle and an end.

What should the president say Tuesday night? Let’s start with these points:

* What precisely is the nature of this strike? Who and/or what will be the targets? No, the president need not be specific. He need not take a dive and surrender too much information to the Syrians.

* He’ll need to pledge, make a solemn vow, that the United States is not going to send troops into battle. Yes, we’ve done this kind of aerial campaign before, in Kosovo. It worked.

* The president will need to send a clear message as well to Syria’s allies in the region — namely Iran and the Hezbollah terrorists who run Lebanon — that they should think twice about committing reprisals against U.S. diplomatic personnel in the region.

* And the president will need to acknowledge Americans’ fear of yet another ground war. He needs to assure them in the strongest terms possible that a ground war is not in the cards. We have plenty of weapons capable of delivering much damage and misery to the Syrian military. They are the most sophisticated precision weapons on the world and we have a military force that knows how to use them.

The nation awaits your message, Mr. President.