Is there anything that signals more radical change than Obama’s message to the Iranian people and its leaders? Watching the address, I wonder what rabbit hole we’ve fallen into — Bush’s 8 years have done just that much damage. What’s the shift? Listen to the speech. It’s short. But here’s my list of indicators that we are finally on the right track — this is what Obama does:
- he addresses the Iranian people and Iran’s leaders, but he speaks just as much to Americans
- by naming the New Year celebration of Nowruz, Obama starts by honoring a foreign tradition and educating Americans. There’s no condescension — just a matter-of-fact use of a term most Americans will need to go look up. Obama is a teacher at work.
- he begins with knowledge and a history lesson that demonstrate respect. Obama names the venerability and ancientness of Iranian culture and history.
- he maintains emphasis on commonality and coalition. The people of Iran and the U.S. share desire for peace and prosperity for themselves and their children.
- he puts the responsibility for peace on Iranian leaders and is clear that the path is diplomacy and not violence.
- he ends by reiterating his best wishes for the New Year and then repeats these best wishes in Farsi. That one Farsi phrase at the end of this short address will likely do more to heal Iran-U.S. relations than anything that’s been done in the 20th c.