Trita went on record over at The Cable:
“This is huge,” said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council, a group that supports U.S. engagement with Tehran. “First of all, he is addressing the people and the government, which has not been done before. At one point he talks about the Islamic Republic. He’s signaling he’s not looking for regime change; he’s recognizing Iran’s system.
“You always heard Rice and Bush say ‘Iranian regime.’ It’s a big difference.” That doesn’t mean Obama doesn’t support Iranian democratization, Parsi said. “But he recognizes the government that exists in Iran right now.”
Parsi also found remarkable Obama’s comments that he recognized Iran has a “rightful role among nations.”
“When he is saying the U.S. seeks constructive ties between the U.S., Iran, and international community,” Parsi added, “that is signaling strategic intent. He is making it clear is that where he wants to end up through diplomacy which he supports is a constructive, positive relationship with Iran, to put aside our enmity. That is huge.”
Interestingly enough, this is pretty close to an idea we reported on not too long ago: Joshua Gross’s proposal over at the Christian Science Monitor. Kudos to Josh and the great CSM team.
Tell Obama thank you for his great Norooz message here.
NIAC press release below the fold.
NIAC Lauds President Obama’s Unprecedented Norooz Message for Peace
|Friday, 20 March 2009|
Contact: Emma MacKinnon
For Immediate Release
Washington DC – President Barack Obama sent an unprecedented message to the Iranian people and government on the occasion of Norooz, expressing his deep respect for the Iranian nation and civilization, as well as the contributions of Iranian Americans to the United States.
Recognizing the meaning of Norooz as the dawn of a new day, President Obama expresses his wish for constructive ties between the United States and Iran, signaling his strategic intent to see an end to the 30-year era of destructive enmity.
The full video message can be found at www.whitehouse.gov/nowruz
NIAC lauds the President’s message, seeing it as a clear break with the policies of confrontation of the past.
“This is a historic message. It will be the topic of conversation at every Norooz celebration in Iran and in America,” said Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council, the largest Iranian-American grassroots organization. “He is doing something crucial: He is sending a signal of strategic intent that America’s objective is to find constructive relations between the US and Iran, i.e. ending the destructive enmity that has existed for three decades.”
Signaling this strategic intent is imperative since tactical collaboration with Iran in Afghanistan will be unlikely to achieve unless America assures Tehran that the broader long-term objective is to find a positive relationship between the two countries.
The message exhibited the President’s deep understanding and respect for the Iranian nation and civilization. Citing one of Iran’s most revered poets, Saadi, showed his understanding of what is important to and valued by Iranians.
Obama’s message was focused on behavioral change, not regime change. Recognizing that Iran has a rightful place among nations clarifies that America recognizes that a country and civilization of Iran’s size cannot be isolated and contained inevitably.
“By pointing out that this role comes with responsibilities, he signals Iran that its rightful role is within reach if its policies change,” Parsi continued. “This is a significant break with the Bush Administration policies.”
The President’s message continues the development of a new tone in American rhetoric, one that instills trust more than it emphasizes threats. In the case of ties to Iran, this is essential.
“Mistrust between the US and Iran is overwhelming. Through this message, the President just injected a huge dose of trust and confidence. Tehran should reciprocate by declaring its positive intent and demonstrating its respect for America,” Parsi said.