Hopes ran high when recent news broke that the US and Iran agreed, for the first time in the two nations' fraught history, to meet in one-on-one direct negotiations over Iran's highly contentious nuclear program. Iranian-Americans and foreign policy analysts were surprised and eager to consider the potential implication of the news.
Obama's "October Surprise" as many were quick to call it, could open the door to a real solution and the timing couldn't be more crucial.
For the benefit of the Unites States' position of power in the Middle East, and for the benefit of Iran's population suffering under sanctions, both sides need to come to a resolution sooner rather than later.
In recent weeks, US media has been rife with reports of how harsh sanctions against Iran have taken a toll on the civilian population.
Astute political observers recognized the potential benefits that direct talks could have for Obama's upcoming foreign policy debate tonight. Appearing to deal directly and substantively on Iran's nuclear program would make Obama appear like a well-qualified statesman, while casting the opposing presidential candidate Mitt Romney aside like a war monger.
Direct talks would also fulfill Obama's original 2008 campaign promise to seek a resolution with Iran and could have the ability to placate Israeli fears. Even former chief of Israeli intelligence Efraim Halevy believes direct talks with Iran can only lead to better understanding between all parties.
However, recognizing the potential domestic political backlash that Romney and the Republicans could unleash, National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor was quick to deny the report.
Some U.S. foreign policy analysts also suggest high-stakes diplomacy is best served in back channel negotiations amongst shadowy diplomatic figures and away from the public eye. But if recent experiences with the popular uprisings in the Middle East are any indicator, citizens are placing more emphasis on government transparency and honesty.
U.S. and Iranian officials need to begin presenting a new picture of what relations between the two countries might look like. Attempts to conceal or hide diplomatic efforts only further entrench politicians to uphold false narratives that ultimately harm both Iranians and Americans alike.