The NY Times discovers that the anti-war President of the anti-war party prefers diplomacy over war:
Obama Signals a Shift From Military Might to Diplomacy
By MARK LANDLER
WASHINGTON — The weekend ended with the first tangible sign of a nuclear deal with Iran, after more than three decades of hostility. Then on Monday came the announcement that a conference will convene in January to try to broker an end to the civil war in Syria.
The success of either negotiation, both long sought by President Obama, is hardly assured — in fact the odds may be against them. But the two nearly simultaneous developments were vivid statements that diplomacy, the venerable but often-unsatisfying art of compromise, has once again become the centerpiece of American foreign policy.
What is missing is the sense of an actual strategy beyond 'give talk a chance'. For example, Syria is being propped up by Iran, so the linkage of those two announcements is not a shock. However...
But some of the crucial dealings have occurred in the shadows. In March, administration officials said, Mr. Obama authorized a small team of senior officials from the White House and the State Department to travel secretly to Oman, the Arab sultanate, where they met face to face with Iranian officials to explore the possibility of a nuclear deal.
The cloak-and-dagger was necessary, the officials said, because it allowed the United States and Iran to discuss the outlines of a nuclear deal without fear that details would leak out. Cutting out others eliminated the competing agendas that come with the six negotiating partners engaged in the formal Geneva talks.
So we have been having secret talks with Iran since March. But what about the US 'red line' dealings with Syria during that time frame? It might have been obvious to a blind man that bombing Iran's client while negotiating with Iran was not likely to boost Iranian moderates or marginalize Iranian hard-liners. Yet Obama persisted in blustering, ultimately without conviction, about attacking Syria. Why - to demonstrate to the Iranians that our threats were hollow and the Russians were the real players in the Middle East?
FREQUENTLY UNASKED QUESTIONS: How does a US-Iranian detente impact the two former powers with interests in the outome? I refer of course to Turkey and Hillary.