Hat In Hand to Tehran?

Determined to distinguish itself from its predecessor, the Obama administration reportedly is working on a conciliatory letter to Iran:

Officials of Barack Obama’s administration have drafted a letter to Iran from the president aimed at unfreezing US-Iranian relations and opening the way for face-to-face talks, the Guardian has learned. …

Diplomats said Obama’s letter would be a symbolic gesture to mark a change in tone from the hostile one adopted by the Bush administration, which portrayed Iran as part of an “axis of evil”.

It would be intended to allay the suspicions of Iran’s leaders and pave the way for Obama to engage them directly, a break with past policy. …

Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, apparently thinks he is in the driver’s seat vis-a-vis Obama. He isn’t going to settle for conciliatory overtures, but wants apologies and fundamental changes in American foreign policy before he will be willing to engage with our new government:

The new U.S. administration needs to show a “fundamental” change in policy not just tactics, Iran’s president said on Wednesday….”We welcome change but on condition that change is fundamental and on the right track,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a rally in western Iran, broadcast live on state television.

“Those who say they want to make change, this is the change they should make: they should apologize to the Iranian nation and try to make up for their dark background and the crimes they have committed against the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad said.

No doubt Ahmadinejad’s stock is rising in Tehran. The Guardian adds:

Ahmadinejad said yesterday that he was waiting patiently to see what the Obama administration would come up with. “We will listen to the statements closely, we will carefully study their actions, and, if there are real changes, we will welcome it,” he said.

Before the election, many worried that Obama is dangerously naive when it comes to foreign policy, partly because he has below-average knowledge of American and world history. Nothing that has happened since his inauguration has allayed those concerns.

UPDATE: Jules Crittenden brings some creativity to the question: what, exactly, would the letter say?

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