Rouhani can be a catalyst of change

Farmer is a senior political science and international studies double major from Thomasville, Ga. He is the current Opinions Editor. He is also a brother of Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc.

James Farmer

Lost amidst the rhetoric of Syria, debt ceilings, government shutdowns and U.S.-Russian relations have been the work of the new Iranian president Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani has quietly impressed the political and journalistic spheres with his leadership style. He is not as bellicose or aggressive as his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which automatically made him seem better by default. Rouhani and President Obama were the first two leaders of their respective countries to actually speak to each other since the Iranian Hostage Crisis in September.

However, serious issues still remain between Iran and the United States. First off is Iran’s desire for a nuclear program, which the state claims is for nuclear power, but many Western states believe is for nuclear armament. The U.S. and its allies have given Iran harsh treatment due to these desires and have even violated Iranian sovereignty to prevent the program from progressing. Cyber-espionage and sabotage are frequent threats to the Iranian program, not just from the U.S. but from Israel as well.

Israel and Iran have been at a constant state of bad relations ever since the Israeli state was founded. To this day, it is still the official position of Iran to not acknowledge the Holocaust (though Rouhani has made some concessions) or the state of Israel. The near-unwavering support of Israel and its policies by the United States has been a thorn in the side of Iranian-U.S. relations for years, but that does not look to change anytime soon. Israel provides the U.S. influence in the region that is much needed.

Iran has been wary of the U.S. for a long time, from the CIA coup in the 60s that removed the democratically elected president and installed a religious dictatorship to the seemingly constant U.S. military presence in the region in current times. It will take charismatic and capable leaders on both sides to repair the mess that is the relationship between the two countries. Rouhani is making steps for Iran, but who will step forward for the U.S.? Whoever it is needs to step forward soon, before this opportunity vanishes.