This editorial appeared in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
On the occasion of the Persian new year celebration last week, President Barack Obama issued a passionate appeal for diplomacy and mutual respect to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As should have been anticipated, the reception was cool from Iranian leaders. But the message likely wasn't meant for them anyway. It was to their people.
The very fact that the president referred to the country by its official name and not as a nation of tyrants or part of an axis of evil should have signaled Iranians that this can be the beginning of a new relationship between the two nations.
In his carefully chosen words, and in his tone, Obama showed a knowledge of and an admiration for the "great and celebrated culture" of the Persian people and their many contributions to the world through arts, letters and innovation.
The president's video-recorded message, released on the Internet and to broadcasters around the world, spoke to "the common humanity that binds us together" and our "shared hopes . . . common dreams."
Obama called for engagement between the countries that is honest and grounded in mutual respect, but warned, "This process will not be advanced by threats."
"The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations," he said. "You have the right – but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization."
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