After thirty-six years of mutual satanization, it is easy to advance pessimistic arguments and to be doubtful about a future in which Iran and the United States will no longer be enemies. However, the nuclear negotiations and the prospect of a final nuclear accord demonstrate the fiction of the idea of permanent enemies destined to be in conflict with each other.
The last year and a half of negotiations between Iran and six international powers has created a remarkable and historic shift. Not only have relations between the United States and Iran begun to thaw after 30 years of enmity, but it is increasingly looking like the international community will be able to solve the Iran nuclear crisis together.
The challenge for the Obama administration is not only to secure an agreement with Iran but to avoid the fate of the Agreed Framework. That 1994 accord failed to prepare for a breakthrough in bilateral relations or prevent North Korea from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It has cast a long shadow over the current negotiations as well as other non-proliferation efforts.
Some memoirs concentrate on self-promotion and score-settling, but Hill avoids the former and mostly eschews the latter. He focuses instead on the on-the-ground work of the diplomat, which may entail dangerous forays far beyond embassy walls. What comes through with exceptional clarity in this book is Hill's concept of service.