Smith isn't hopeful, and as we wait to see what the president will concede in the latest Republican-created budget crises, and remember how he has caved in on issue after issue, from the "public option" in the beginning, through expanded oil drilling, through Bush-era tax cuts, debt ceiling debates and on up to the "fiscal cliff" last summer, how he has catered to the big banks and let working class Americans be evicted from their homes by the millions, agreed to more tax cuts for the rich while the rest of us look for jobs and experience how it feels to have the image of a prosperous future vanish from our imaginations, neither am I.
Nor I would guess are the long suffering Palestinians, who have seen their already tiny slice of what was once Palestine diminish even further while President Obama looked the other way as Israel, unimpeded, steadily gobbled up more and more of Palestine for settlements.
Iran is rising, whether the US or Israel like it or not. Large swathes or Iranian society and a big chunk of its ruling establishment want better relations with the US. A recasting of US-Iranian relations would have far reaching implications in the Middle East, Smith notes, even as he wonders whether Obama even realizes what a historic moment it is.
For an analysis of how newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani maneuvered himself into a position to be able to make overtures to the US so quickly in a country where fundamentalist Islamic clergy and the conservative Revolutionary Guard are the biggest players, the Middle East Report has an interesting piece by Kevan Harris.