My headline is just trying to faithfully channel the inevitable outrage of the bomb Iran camp over the breaking news that President Barack Obama has actually spoken to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani by phone, and come away persuaded that there is the basis for reaching a nuclear agreement. No doubt the warmongers will characterize this as a scandalous act of weakness, if not an act of treachery.
Of course in reality, the president's phone call—the first direct contact between the countries' two leaders since 1979—was an incredibly bold and courageous political act.
The Iranian revolution and subsequent hostage taking brought down the Carter White House. Iran backed the perpetrators of the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings that killed 299 US and French servicemen. The US likely aided Iraq in targeting chemical weapons against Iran during their bloody border war. Former Iranian leaders have cursed the US as "the Great Satan," while American politicians have long decried Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat. There was even a time when the likelihood of a US military strike seemed hinged on the outcome of a presidential election. Officially, our two nations have been about as bitter enemies as nations can be.
So to pick up the phone in the face of all that history, and just give Rouhani a call? That takes balls. And it is evidence once again that sometimes, elections in both countries really do matter.