Letter: Support Diplomacy With Iran

To the Editor:

President Obama has shown admirable leadership in picking up the phone to speak with the new president of Iran, opening direct communication after four decades of mutual distrust and hostility. The secretary of state is working hard with a broad array of diplomatic colleagues to forge an agreement to end the dangerous standoff regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

We know that courageous diplomacy can change global politics — recall President Nixon’s reaching out to bring China into the international community of nations and President Reagan’s reaching out to Mikhail Gorbachev, resulting eventually in the tearing down of the Berlin Wall.

The new president of Iran was elected on a platform of easing animosities with the West and appears to have the backing of the country’s supreme leader. Public opinion in Iran — despite the “death to America” rhetoric fomented by the extreme right — is reportedly quite favorable to Americans and American culture. If rapprochement with Iran were to be achieved in the current negotiations, that country’s help could prove critical in working on other difficult problems across the region.

Despite these favorable signs, there is intense pressure in the Congress to pile on more sanctions against Iran. New sanctions could shake the confidence of the Iranian leadership that Obama will be able to deliver on U.S. commitments in the negotiating process.

Women in the Senate have recently shown how the “mom’s logic” of cooperation rather than confrontation can successfully resolve a seemingly intractable stand-off. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, and both she and Sen. Kelly Ayotte sit on the Armed Services Committee. It is to be hoped that our New Hampshire senators, their political differences notwithstanding, will continue to show leadership in opposing new sanctions so that the diplomats have a better chance to be successful.

Bob Schultz