Anecdotally, Insanity is frequently described as '...Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' This may have had its origins in a quote from Albert Einstein. The point is, it does sound pretty crazy.
And if you are watching the Obama administration, you may have that deja vu feeling: ...and indeed, the United States is doing it all over again, causing me to become increasingly cynical about any 'new direction' in fact, for United States' foreign policy.
Obama came into office with warm and fuzzy visions of new foreign policy initiatives, different ways of doing things, substantive dialogues with problematic world neighbors. Yet, as his time in office has unwound, there is much less warm and fuzzy vision, and much more of the 'same old wine, in a brand new bottle,' ...and at times even the bottle doesn't look so new.
He is rapidly backpedaling on a civilian trial for KSM, and has already backpedaled on illegal wiretapping, renditions, and the closure of Guantanamo. He has substantially increased the use of drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, even as civilian casualties mount exponentially, raising anti-Americanism to critical heights in both those countries, which could be counterproductive to American interests (and not incidentally, the best interests of the respective Pakistan and Afghanistan governments).
He has stopped his earlier, forceful calls for a cessation to Israeli settlement building, and Secretary of State Clinton even rather ridiculously praised Israel for 'unprecedented concessions,' earlier last year. Illegal settlement building continues.
...and, last but perhaps most counterproductive, he is now moving to tighten the screws as dramatically as possible on Iran, which the United States still accuses of developing nuclear weapons, even as Iran denies this.
So, today, Secretary Clinton made the astute observation that Iran is 'moving toward a military dictatorship,' as the Republican Guard increases its control of governmental mechanisms [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/15/clinton-iran-military-dictatorship_n_462375.html]. This should be a surprise?
Governments in many countries through history have tended towards authoritarianism when those countries have felt severely threatened from external sources - including the United States (think, most recently, GWB, wiretapping, rendition, torture, etc.).
Let's review some history, here. Most news accounts regarding the tension between Iran and the United States begin with the mantra that difficulties began with the 1979 Embassy Takeover, and ensuing Hostage Crisis. HELLO????!!!
What about the 1953 overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government, in which the United States was directly involved????
This convenient revisionism is all too typical of the United States, which insists on interpreting world events from its own narcissistic perspective, in which we can do no wrong, and no one else can do any right.
So. The United States has previously not only been the aggressor in this relationship, but in fact initiated aggression simply to protect our corporate economic interests.
Additionally, Israel, a close ally (if not puppet master) of the United States, already has an [unacknowledged] nuclear arsenal, is not signatory to the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, and has already twice attacked other countries with developing nuclear capabilities, preemptively, without sanction for clear violations of international law regarding illegal aggression.
So, what is there in this picture that should make Iran feel at all safe and secure?
If Obama really wishes to take a new tact with foreign policy, the first thing he needs to do is throw away the self-righteous blinders that the United States conveniently invokes, throw away the capitalistic manual on corporate economic imperialism from the past... two hundred, some odd years, stop being played like a lapdog by the Israeli lobby, and really allow his internationalistic understandings of the world to come to the surface and inform our foreign policy. We need to understand that while our version of events seems 'true' to us - yes, Iranian students took over our embassy in 1979, and held hostages for over four hundred days - there is also an Iranian 'truth,' which begins with the previous American-backed coup and American support for the brutal Shah of Iran, responsible for the torture and murder of countless civilians in the name of protecting United States' economic and strategic interests. This is not to justify attacks by anyone - but simply to point out the simple truth, that most often, when there are multiple versions of the 'truth,' there can be no simple 'black or white.'
Legally, Iran does have the right to develop nuclear technology under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, within that treaty's constraints. Yes, there is dispute regarding whether or not Iran is meeting the letter of its treaty obligations. Well, hey; the United States brokered a technically illegal deal with India, providing for the transfer of nuclear technologies to that country, even though India is not signatory to the treaty, and has been in a decades old nuclear arms confrontation with Pakistan (with which the United States refuses to deal regarding this issue). As long as the United States plays fast and loose with the rules, it is on very poor footing to point the finger at other countries. We need to stop being hypocritical.
If in fact, Obama wishes to set a new course for U. S. foreign policy, he needs to look to the gray. Perhaps, if Iran felt less threatened, it might not feel the need for a nuclear arsenal. So long as we rather condescendingly treat Iran as an enemy state, that must satisfy our demands, that is precisely what we will find.