Before his election as America's first black president, Obama used to repeat his foreign policy motto. Strong countries talk to their enemies, he told the Americans. The millions who voted for him adopted this concept, according to which the world should be managed through dialogue rather than fists.
But the years passed, and when the results of the appeasement policy were not visible on the ground, Obama was harshly criticized. He was called soft, naïve, someone who does not understand the world he lives in. The Israelis, who never liked Obama and his hesitancy, interpreted his conduct as weakness. They did not buy into his approach that power lies in restraint.
This week Obama proved that he was right, twice. He proved that the issues that were placed at the world's doorstep like ticking bombs – Iran and Syria – can apparently be neutralized through diplomatic means and that the smart bombs can wait.
On the same day Obama spoke on the phone with the Iranian president and was informed that the Security Council unanimously passed a resolution that reinforces the agreement to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons.
True, this is not the end of the story and things may still change, but in no more than three or four months we will be able to tell whether Rohani is a magician of nice words or a rational statesman. What is clear is that Iran, which is collapsing under the burden of the sanctions, has an interest in reaching an agreement with the West, just as Obama has an interest in blocking the Iranian nuclear program without going to war. In the White House they understand that a meeting of forces is created when both sides have a mutual interest – and they are banking on this.
In politics and policy, atmosphere is no less significant than facts, and music is sometimes more important than the lyrics. Over the course of the past few days America and Iran have agreed to turn a page in the book of history.
Netanyahu, who will meet with Obama on Monday, is an Israeli politician who knows better than anyone else to read into polls and assess the atmosphere. If Netanyahu will arrive at the White House with frightening statements he will find out that Washington is already speaking in a different language.
While Rohani has yet to say what Iran would be willing to put on the table, he has already gained an impressive PR victory by transforming Iran from a pariah state (in the eyes of the West) into a country that has aroused the curiosity of the international community. This is not enough of course, but no one in Washington plans to ease the sanctions before Iran delivers the goods. America may have become conciliatory, but it is not a sucker.