The U.S. must pay attention to two bitter consequences of its sanctions: the collective punishment of the Iranian people and the destruction of their lives; and the rise of anti-Americanism among the Iranian people, and even those who oppose the Islamic Republic.
In the past week, Iran has been struck by two earthquakes that have killed dozens of people and leveled hundreds of homes. And because of the political standoff with Iran's government, Americans are largely unable to provide any help.
Iran's masses showed the world their disdain for their current rulers in 2009 when they took to the streets in droves to protest. They were met with very little global support, and were brutally quelled by a regime that refuses to relinquish power.
In today's America, that's a conversation-stopper. The reality is more prosaic -- sobering realities shape Iranian politics. Nonetheless, Iran may have more democratic potential than any other society in the Muslim world.