In his first week or two in office, President “Obama told al-Arabiya”:http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/01/27/65096.html TV, “And as I said during my inauguration speech, if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.”
As it turns out, he said something slightly different during the “inaugural speech”:http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/01/20/obama.politics/:
bq. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
Just in case you were wondering what BHO thinks of the IRI.
Now, more recently, the President said that “we’ll know within about half a year”:http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-President-Obama-and-Israeli-Prime-Minister-Netanyahu-in-press-availability/ whether Iran’s fist is unclenched:
bq. My expectation would be that if we can begin discussions soon, shortly after the Iranian elections, we should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction and whether the parties involved are making progress and that there’s a good faith effort to resolve differences. That doesn’t mean every issue would be resolved by that point, but it does mean that we’ll probably be able to gauge and do a reassessment by the end of the year of this approach.
Here’s a prediction. By the end of the year — or by October, the date that “leaked out”:http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1084405.html “earlier”:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124225939853917439.html — President Obama won’t necessarily get either a clenched fist or an extended hand from Iran. He may catch sight of a more ambiguous digital posture, something that doesn’t foreclose options one way or another, but puts the onus on Washington to do so.
We’d all prefer an either/or deal, but that’s not the most likely thing, really.