In mid-March, a small team of U.S. officials boarded a military plane and flew to the tiny Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman on a diplomatic mission so sensitive — and risky — that only President Obama and his closest advisors knew about it.In our fast-paced 24/7 news market, it can feel like the negotiations that were announced that week have been going on for a long time. But as that article points out, those initial clandestine meetings ended "more than three decades" of estrangement between the U.S. and Iran. That's how long we had gone without any "official" communication between the two countries.
In a secret encounter arranged by the longtime monarch, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, the Americans sat down with a delegation of Iranian diplomats and nuclear experts in the capital city, Muscat, an ancient trading port on the Arabian Sea.
It was the first in a series of at least five clandestine meetings this year between U.S. and Iranian officials in Oman and elsewhere after more than three decades of bitter estrangement. They paved the way for the landmark agreement announced early Sunday in Geneva designed to freeze Iran's nuclear program for six months while negotiators seek a more comprehensive pact.
The hidden effort was a gamble by Obama...
That article describes those early encounters as "sensitive," "risky," and "clandestine," precisely because President Obama was taking such a gamble in even talking to the Iranians.
What's interesting to note is how often this President has been described as "cautious." There is probably some truth in that. But I love how Steve Waldman phrased it. He suggests that Obama has a "pitch-perfect sense of when to take the big risk." Up until now, the examples most often cited for that are his continued commitment to health care reform after Scott Brown was elected and his decision to attack the compound in Abbattobad, Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden. Now we can add to that list his decision to open up talks with Iran over their nuclear weapons program.
The result of taking that risk is that today President Obama was able to announce that history is in the making.