Thursday, November 06, 2008

Iran welcomes Obama while Israel cautions him against Iran

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a statement congratulating Obama on his election as President, saying that he was looking forward to the change he anticipates Obama will bring to America's relationships with the rest of the world. From the CNN story, an excerpt from his statement:

The Americans who have spiritual tendencies expect the government to spend all its power in line with serving the people, rectify the critical situation facing the U.S., restore lost reputation as well as their hope and spirit, fully respect human rights and strengthen family foundations.

Other nations also expect war-oriented policies, occupation, bullying, contempt of nations and imposing discriminatory policies on them to be replaced by the ones advocating justice, respect for human rights, friendship and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.
At the same time, Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed apprehension over Obama's stated willingness to engage in diplomatic measures and direct talks with Iran. From the Reuters story:

"We live in a neighborhood in which sometimes dialogue -- in a situation where you have brought sanctions, and you then shift to dialogue -- is liable to be interpreted as weakness," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, asked on Israel Radio about policy change toward Tehran in an Obama administration.


Asked if she supported any U.S. dialogue with Iran, Livni replied: "The answer is no."

I've always been a fan of Obama's approach to this issue. As he put it in a debate, "The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous." And while I'm no domestic policy expert, engaging nations (including and especially potentially hostile ones) in dialogue seems to me to be both a mature approach, and one that will help to ease the impression of American blustery arrogance around the world. If even such an outspoken critic of the United States as Ahmadinejad is seeing this as an opportunity for more peaceful relations, then I'm looking forward to seeing where we can go from here.

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