Letter to Iran

LETTER TO IRAN…. It seems one of the bigger political stories of the day is this Washington Times report about previous outreach efforts towards Iran by the Obama administration. Reading the details, though, this isn’t especially shocking.

Prior to this month’s disputed presidential election in Iran, the Obama administration sent a letter to the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, calling for an improvement in relations, according to interviews and the leader himself. […]

U.S. officials declined to discuss the letter on Tuesday…. An Iranian with knowledge of the overture, however, told The Washington Times that the letter was sent between May 4 and May 10 and laid out the prospect of “cooperation in regional and bilateral relations” and a resolution of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program.

This has caused a stir — predictably, Drudge is all excited — but there’s nothing in the official correspondence that’s especially provocative.

Indeed, it’s not even particularly new. Iran’s regime sent Obama a letter of congratulations last fall, and it’s already been reported elsewhere that the State Department has been crafting a response.

What’s more, this is entirely consistent with what Obama said he’d do if elected — reaching out to a foe to explore possibly improving relations and engaging Iran on a possible nuclear deal.

The White House said it would reach out, we knew officials were working on reaching out, and so now we know the White House did reach out. As revelations go, this hardly sends the heart aflutter.

Some of the overly-excited conservative analysis is that the administration’s letter was predicated on “the expectation that President Ahmadinejad would win a landslide victory.” But there’s no evidence to support this — in fact, it seems backwards. The letter was to Khamenei, the country’s supreme leader, not the Iranian president, and there’s nothing in the reports pointing to any White House assumptions about the Iranian presidential election.

Indeed, the correspondence seems unrelated to the election, which is why it was sent more than a month before Iranian voters headed to the polls, long before any U.S. officials could have expected the unrest that’s shaken Iran so dramatically, and circumventing Ahmadinejad altogether.

I suspect the right will continue to be excited about this; I’m just not sure why.