A year ago today my brother sprinted down the steps of Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said's private aircraft and jumped into my arms in Muscat, Oman. My parents wrapped themselves around us, and our family embraced in a giant bear hug for the whole world to see. It is a moment I look back on today and with relish, relief, and gratitude. The nightmare of my brother Josh's 781 days of arbitrary detention in Iran finally ended on September 21, a date that will always be known as freedom day in our family.
There are many individuals, organizations and governments that helped precipitate my brother's release; many of which received far less public credit than they should have. Atop that list are President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton. Their staff in the White House and the State Department showed resolve and creativity in creating the conditions for my brother's release even when the wider political picture went from bleak to ominous with the implosion of nuclear talks, ever more stringent multilateral and bilateral sanctions piled on Iran, and loose talk of war. The warming chilly war in the region spurred by the Arab Spring, and particularly the slow boil of civil war in Syria, did not help matters. But after the charade of a legal process, Iran released Josh and his friend Shane and reunited our families. In the face of a seemingly impossible geo-political context, the Obama administration's dogged diplomacy and pragmatism pulled through.
I traveled to Washington D.C. more than three dozen times over the 25 months of my brother's detention to lobby the White House and State Department and ensure they were doing everything they possibly could to speed my brother's release. I am proud to report that the public servants entrusted with tremendous responsibilities in key positions in these bureaucracies are bright people dedicated to making progress on intractable problems. President Obama's foreign policy has not only taken out dangerous despots like Osama bin Laden and Muammar Ghaddafi, but also united a fractious coalition against Iran in ways that a less deft administration would not have been capable. President Obama and Secretary Clinton have restored confidence in America's commitment to diplomacy and positioned the U.S. to continue to lead in an increasingly multi-polar world.
This administration came to power on the brink of one of the worst credit crises this country has ever seen. Its economic policies have pulled us back from the ledge of financial collapse. Would the selectively laissez-faire republicans have done the same to save the deregulated financial institutions whose recklessness continues to echo negatively through the economy? The economy is not yet fixed with unemployment falling too gradually, but certainly the situation would be much worse had the Obama Administration not bailed out the auto industry and intervened to buttress a teetering financial system.
There still is a credit crisis, one in which the Obama administration is systematically denied credit for its achievements. Yes, the strength of our political system is the ability to freely criticize -- and of course critique has a crucial role to play in holding government accountable -- however when criticism is not balanced by giving credit where it is due, the democratic process falls out of joint.
If it were not for the Obama administration, my brother would still be languishing in a jail cell in Iran. Let me begin to correct the credit crisis by saying thank you to everyone in the administration who put in time writing cables, making phone calls, carefully weighing publics statements, and strategizing to reunite my family. Not a day passes when I am not grateful for your work.