Squandering any opportunity for détente has been the norm in US-Iran relations during the past three decades. Iranians missed a major opening when PresidentObama came to power in 2009. Americans – especially as they meet with their allies in Brussels today to discuss next steps in nuclear negotiations with Tehran – should avoid a redux with Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani. After coming to office in 2009, Mr. Obama made a genuine effort to mend America’s relations with its arch adversary in the Middle East. Not only did he publically offer an “extended hand” to Iran, but he also sent two private letters to the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, seeking engagement.
But Tehran remained mistrustful.
ONE MINUTE DEBATE: 3 views on what the US should do about Iran's nuclear program
“We have no experience of this new president and administration,” Mr. Khamenei said. “We will wait and see. If you [the United States] change your attitude, we will change, too. If you do not change, then our nation will build on its experience of the past 30 years.” Rebuffed, the opportunity for engagement vanished as rapidly as it appeared and was replaced with a vicious race of sanctions against centrifuges. For 30 years, the US and Iran have squandered engagement opportunities. President Obama – especially as US officials meet with allies in Brussels today to discuss next steps in nuclear negotiations with Tehran – should avoid a redux with Iran’s President-elect Hassan Rouhani....