Can dialogue be effective in securing America’s strategic interests? This is the challenge extended to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who this past week received two opportunities to show that diplomacy rather than force can bring results in solving two long-standing quandaries.
The first was the election of Iran's former nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani to the presidency. An establishment cleric known for his diplomatic finesse, Rowhani replaces the bombastic Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose fiery rhetoric and outspoken commitment to the country's nuclear program inflamed Western sensibilities and whose efforts to strengthen the position of the presidency put him on a collision course with Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
The second was the announcement by the Taliban of its readiness to enter into talks with the United States about ending the war in Afghanistan. Kerry—and by extension his boss, President Barack Obama—could find a way for the United States to end its combat role in Afghanistan and solve the Iranian nuclear imbroglio that so bedeviled the previous two administrations.