We all know that the Iranian elections will change nothing immediately, but we also know that these elections are the closest that the Iranian public can come to shaping the country's future. The real effects of the elections will be felt in the next few years, when the battle for the next supreme leader starts. What happened in the Iranian elections is thus even more significant than Hassan Rouhani's victory in the presidential elections of 2013.
Iran can still surprise. Voter turnout has surpassed 60 percent. Victory by candidates aligned with President Rouhani already exceeds expectations. This begs the question: What just happened? Perhaps above all else, these elections reflect Iranian society's continued desire to bring about change through gradual evolution rather than radical upheaval.
The same gang -- with the same worldview that brought us the war in Iraq -- are back. They were wrong last time -- and they are just as wrong this time.
June 12 is the fifth anniversary of the birth of Iran's democratic Green Movement. Though the open resistance of this popular movement has been suppressed, it has been morally vindicated in the intervening years and remains as a constituency imbedded in Iran's body politic, ready to emerge once again when the opportunity arises. And the opportunity will surely arise. The Islamic Republic of Iran is not your usual authoritarian state. As a hybrid of religious dictatorship and competitive elections, the regime generates its own opposition, see-sawing back and forth between conservatives and reformists. One day, the balance of power will shift decisively toward democracy and against the Ayatollahs. It is precisely because democratic elections within a religious dictatorship are so meaningful that the election five years ago in 2009 was so passionately contested.
Yesterday Hassan Rouhani was sworn in as Iran's new president thus putting an end to the volatile Ahmadinejad era. There are many issues that separate Iran and the United States -- the most urgent one that needs to be addressed is the nature of Iran's nuclear program.
Those of us who have long been Iran-watchers were elated by the June election of moderate Hassan Rouhani to succeed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president of the Islamic Republic. But the sad thing is, President Obama is not prepared to take advantage of this golden opportunity.
Despite varying degrees of skepticism and mistrust, many Iranians agree that Iran's election went better than expected. Until Election Day, many Iranians did not know if they would vote.
Favoring the pressure track of sanctions over a military intervention, it is not yet clear whether Obama is contemplating a grand bargain with Tehran, but the glimmer of an opportunity seems there. What is certain is that Rouhani represents Washington's best chance for peace.
The only thing that has changed in Iran since Netanyahu last did his war dance is that Iran has elected a new president who, unlike his radical predecessor, seems determined to tamp down tensions in the region.
On June 18, 1983, one nation sent its first young female scientist into space, while another government sent young women with high aspirations to the gallows.
In the same way Richard Nixon may have been the only American statesman of his era to have the credibility with the left and the right to negotiate with Communist China, Rouhani maybe just the right Iranian politician at this time in history.
Those data that are reported tend to possess what I've described as an "Alice in Wonderland" quality. In light of this, it is fair to suggest that any official data on Iran's inflation be taken with a grain of salt. So, how can this problem be overcome?
If the Obama administration wants to engage a new Rohani administration effectively, and to put U.S.-Iranian relations on a more positive trajectory, it will need to overhaul U.S. policy in four fundamental ways.
As the elections signified, it is the Iranian people who will ultimately shape the destiny of Iran. And it is the Iranian people who have borne the brunt of sanctions, and it is these human impacts that must always be at the forefront of U.S. sanctions policy considerations.
Regardless of whom I spoke to, the past four years have been some of the most difficult that Iranians have faced in the past century. Iranians crave democracy, human rights and more now than ever desire an open dialogue with the international community.