Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I already Twittered this, but on the occasion of the Iranian New Year, US President Obama posted a YouTube video on The White House site. "This year, the President wanted to send a special message to the people and government of Iran on Nowruz, acknowledging the strain in our relations over the last few decades. 'But at this holiday we are reminded of the common humanity that binds us together,' he says."

The video has Persian subtitles.

Very impressive. Although some might argue that it's not enough and others that it's too much, I really like the respectful tone and change from the tone of the previous administration.

Mohamed Nanabhay who works at Al Jazeera Twitters, "definitely not with us or without us..." about the video.

Ross Stapleton-Gray, former CIA guy who helped get them onto the web, commented on my Facebook status: "I've long advocated that the U.S. propose a "truth and reconciliation" summit with Iran that takes as its starting point the idea that our issues began some time considerably before the 1979 embassy takeover..."

I'm really curious to see how the Iranians react as well as others in the Middle East.


How would Iranians react? One can guess about the reaction by imagining how Americans would react if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a speech in the Farsi language in which he addressed the US, and made the English-subtitled video available only in a 41 megabyte download on a Farsi-only website.

Clearly the main audience in his case would be his fellow Iranians, just as clearly the intended audience in this little speech is clearly Americans.

I'd be more impressed if the White House wasn't also engaged in starting a trade war with Mexico, coming close to starting one with Canada, and insulting the British Prime Minister.

boo: The Farsi can be viewed on YouTube by turning on closed captions in the lower right hand corner. There is a selection for English and Farsi.

It's about sending a message.

The previous administration clearly sent the message "you are with us, or against us". Many felt from Obama's pick for Secratary of State that it would be merely a case of "with us or without us". This may have been less confrontational but still not indicative of a change away from a hegemonic foreign policy.

This seems to be a sign that Obama will not leave foreign policy for others. Yes, he has the economy to deal with but he is still engaged.

So to all those saying he hasn't gone far enough - sure, this is by no means a statement saying "bombing Gaza was just insane". But heck, at least he's NOT saying "and you know what, we're going to bomb Tehran next week..."

Ridiculous. I know the Iranian leaders and people are smarter than this. The US huffs and puffs about striking Iran. Not just Obama; Bush/Cheney were also hostile to Iran. Now Obama does this. Why didn't Obama just post it on youtube so the rest of the world could see it?

Stereotyping is not always the best way to think about people but in this situation it is effective: Middle Eastern people only respect force and strength. Right now the US has neither. This personal appeal by Obama will be seen as weakness.

"Middle Eastern people only respect force and strength"?
you mean the death of civilians and innocents like in palestine anrd iraq ? Middle Eastern people just want to understand why US want to choose what is best for them instead of them? they just want to know why US want to rule such region and always raise troubles.
for Iran the History started with the CIA sponsored coup d'etat against the a deoncratically elected PM, mossadeg in 50s after he nationalized the oil company?
as I belong to MENA I just want that USA should stop trying to rule my region or encouraging dictators.


Nice white-supremacist website, Lyn.

Thanks for the tech support, Joi! I see the Farsi now. But my original point stands, that this is mainly for an American audience, part of a campaign to show Americans how reasonable he is, which will give him greater latitude later to order whatever he wants regarding Iran, including military ops.

When are U.S.A. and the fight of al Qaeda over?
Or when are U.S.A. and Iraq, Iran, the fight with Afghanistan over?
Though none of the people expects it, why is not the war over?
Is energy a problem?
Is religion a problem?
Is power a problem?
As a living human being, how should I behave now?
How should I judge our nationality?
Thank you, Joi, for giving me a chance to think what is life and what is happiness.

I am an American born Persian, and I do not believe any words that come out of President Obama's mouth. He has lost all credibility with me, through his campaign lies and his extreme lack of leadership and organization - and the wasteful spending he has promoted through his massive new bills. Not to mention, "change" that truly meant a recylce of the Clinton era employees, and and an additional $1 trillion debt.. All he is to me, is someone out for a photo-op, armed with a teleprompter that has handed him sound bytes that only fools continue to fall for. An appearance on Jay Leno? Is he still in campaign mode, flying around in a 747 and stopping the flow of traffic during rush hour in the Los Angeles area, or is he working hard to remediate our economy? The same economy he said he'd turn around right away. Then, it became "soon". Now, it is "might not happen in my first term". And as of the news today, his spending will put us into $1 trillion of debt EACH year, for TEN years. That's about $10 trillion of debt that we will have going for us in the next decade, due to his massive spending in less than 100 days in office. He said he'd cut Bush's deficit in half, in his first term. Ha. I'm just glad I didn't vote for this puppet.

Thank you for posting about this message here Joi, I believe that Iranians deserve to know what's in the mind of the current president of the United States.


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I believe in President Obama's sincerity in reaching out to the Iranian people for the two countries to start mending diplomatic relations. Obviously, there's a lot more at stake here than the immediate geopolitical implications. I think a renewed US-Iranian relation will have positive long-term results for all of us (not just the Americans and the Iranians) in improving security and stability worldwide.

The rejection by the Iranian leadership of this positive gesture is unfortunate, and only highlights how complicated and difficult the way ahead is. I understand the clerics and the government officials of Iran need to pander to their hard-line base with general elections coming up in a few weeks. But they do have a point when they said words must be consistent with actions. President Obama needs to continue on this path of peace, but it would help if related issues affecting Israel, Syria, and Afghanistan are also addressed in the process. Thanks.

The change in administration of America has helped it gain a much better name throughout the world whether it is among African countries or the Middle east countries. I hope that this balance should stay longer.