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President Obama: 'Once Again, We’re Seeing What’s Possible With Strong American Diplomacy.'

President Obama hailed the nuclear agreement that lead to the lifting of international sanctions against Iran and the diplomacy required to secure the return of the Americans being held hostage there.
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President Obama hailed the nuclear agreement that lead to the lifting of international sanctions against Iran and the diplomacy required to secure the return of the Americans being held hostage there.

What a pleasant change from the bluster and warmongering we've been hearing from all of the Republican presidential candidates and their allies in the media: Obama hails Iran nuclear agreement progress, prisoner release:

President Barack Obama on Sunday hailed the powers of diplomacy in dealing with Iran as the nuclear deal struck with the government in Tehran takes effect and "unjustly detained" Americans return home after a prisoner swap made public a day earlier.

"Engaging directly with the Iranian government on a sustained basis, for the first time in decades, has created a unique opportunity, a window, to resolve important issues," Obama said from the White House during a rare Sunday public statement.

The President hailed the recent developments as further proof his decision to engage directly with Iran was a more effective path than had been pursued in past decades.

"We've achieved this historic progress through diplomacy," he said, "without resorting to another war in the Middle East."

He also said Saturday marked a "milestone" in making sure Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon.

"We've now closed off every single path Iran had to building a (nuclear) bomb," he said. "We'll know if Iran ever tries to break out."

Here's more on the deal from The Guardian: Delicacy and compromise were key to the Iran deal, not bluster and prayer:

We wouldn’t have the release of five American prisoners and a non-nuclear Iran if the Republicans’ ‘my way or the highway’ foreign policy ruled Washington

Saturday turned out to be a momentous day in US-Iran relations. American Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif took to the dais in Vienna to announce Iran’s compliance with the terms of last July’s nuclear accord and, therefore, the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions on the Islamic Republic. [...]

That’s because, like any action President Obama takes on Iran, a firestorm of criticism soon came down from all directions. Hawks on presidential trail, Capitol Hill and, most of all, among Washington’s bevy of think tanks and advocacy organizations either came down swiftly against the deal or denounced its parameters so vociferously as to engender the same effect.


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On the campaign trail, Republicans were ready to give anyone other that Obama and Kerry credit for bringing the American prisoners home. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump decided he was to thank for the release of the prisoners. “I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might have had something to do with it” he said at a rally, adding that the deal was nonetheless unfavorable to the US.

Other candidates gave credit to a higher authority (though Trump might quibble with that ranking). “Praise God!” Senator Ted Cruz tweeted. Another Republican candidate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, had the same reaction, also tweeting, “Praise God!” Rubio chimed in on Twitter, too: “Thankful that prayers have been answered” he said.

But it wasn’t god that negotiated the release for the US: it was Brett McGurk, a senior State Department official who normally works on managing the anti-Islamic State coalition. He and his counterpart, an Iranian intelligence official, according to reports, worked through a channel that had been established in late 2014 and picked up steam after the nuclear deal was struck in July 2015.

And it wasn’t the prayers that got Rezaian and company home. It was a compromise. Yes, the US had to give up something it wanted – to pursue the various sanctions busters it let go to the fullest extent of the law – but the administration judged that bringing back American prisoners held abroad was more important.

Compromise, however, is anathema to Obama’s opponents. It’s not very surprising that the Venn Diagram of critics of the nuclear deal and critics of the prison swap consists of two almost perfectly overlapping circles. Neoconservative and their right-wing allies hate diplomacy with Iran – all of it. They always want no compromises, no exceptions.

The breathless opposition to the prisoner swap suggests that perhaps the Obama administration was correct to negotiate in secret. A public process would’ve been susceptible to the many disingenuous, dishonest and, at times, downright conspiratorial attacks; it’s not clear that such delicate talks, which already reportedly faced considerable stumbles, could have survived.

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