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.
Iranian elections are hardly free or fair by Western standards. But even with limited choices and a heavily securitized environment, the brief presidential campaign is providing an outlet for harsh criticism of the status quo, including topics that are usually banished from public discourse.
Iran is not a democracy, its elections have little to no bearing on the critical issues the country faces, and its leadership and corrupt political system deserve none of the credit that comes with the conduct of a free vote.
A reformist government is Iran's best bet for an exodus from the current economic hardship, for changing Iranians' political status from duty-bound minors to full citizens, and to establish a democratic regime worthy of such citizens.
Whoever wins the Iranian elections, it is unlikey that Iran will move toward total totalitarianism as some analysts predict. Iranian society does not have the ingredients to evolve into a totalitarian state.