In the life of a political activist, only occasionally do events transpire that make our efforts seem worthwhile.
It began during the George W. Bush administration with inauspicious red and white signs that simply said, “Talk to Iran.”
On Saturday, Jan. 16, Secretary of State John Kerry announced,
Today, more than four years after I first traveled to Oman at the request of President Obama to discreetly explore whether the kind of nuclear talks that we ultimately entered into with Iran were even possible, after more than two and a half years of intense multilateral negotiations, the International Atomic Energy Agency has now verified that Iran has honored its commitments to alter – and in fact, dismantle – much of its nuclear program in compliance with the agreement that we reached last July.
The United States not only talked to Iran, but convinced them — not only through verbiage, but with tough, international economic sanctions — that they should end their nuclear program. It worked as Secretary Kerry indicated.
It is days like today that give us hope that peace in the world is more than something nice to say to friends and colleagues. Peace has a tangible basis in reality, part of which this president, his administration and the P5+1 nations helped bring about.
Already the voices of extremism criticize the results of the Iran Deal, saying sanctions relief will fund extremism by the powerful Islamic nation. Perhaps what they hate most is the fact this president succeeded where none of them would even take the first step.
There are legitimate concerns about Iran’s future policies, actions and choices in the Middle East. However, this subzero day in Iowa we understand and can take heart in the fact that every so often it is possible to break out of the world of paper promises, social media and itinerant gossip to create a reality that includes the reduced threat of nuclear weapons.
This political cycle there is talk about the United States withdrawing from international engagement: the Iran Deal, the COP21 climate agreement and more. Some presidential candidates talk about building a wall around our country to keep people out. Such actions would be to our detriment.
The world is a scary place, and what is scarier is our lack of action to address the gravest threats of our time. Nuclear abolition and mitigating the causes of global warming are at center stage calling for action. Partly, the solution lies in talking — as we did with Iran — as international partners. Partly it lies in empowering women, world-wide, and educating girls. Solutions to our problems exist or can be developed if we persist.
Saturday’s results provide hope that peace is possible with the international community working together.
If a person blinked, they might have missed what just happened. Hopefully, more of us will be inspired by what happened with Iran and engage in the tough problems facing us before it is too late.