Avi Asher-Schapiro, news.vice.com
Trita Parsi founded the National Iranian-American Council in January 2002, the same month that US President George W. Bush included Iran, the country of Parsi's birth, in an "axis of evil" alongside North Korea and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
For the past 13 years, Parsi and his organization have worked to ease tension between Iran and the United States, lobbying lawmakers on behalf of the Iranian-American community while trying to dispel the popular notion that Iran is AN existential threat to the US and its allies. ...
"Those who tried to resolve the Syrian crisis have come to the conclusion that without Iran being present, there is no way to reach a reasonable solution to the crisis," Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at the time. US Secretary of State John Kerry was less blunt, calling the talks a "promising opportunity." Behind the scenes, however, he worked hard to cajole Iran's regional adversary Saudi Arabia to allow Iran to attend the conference.
The US and Iran are cooperating even more closely in Iraq, as Iraqi coalition forces that include Iran-backed Shia militias often work fist-in-glove with US airpower in the fight against IS.
Just this week, after Congress passed a new law that would make it much more difficult for travelers who've been to Iran to get visas to the US, Kerry and Zarif exchanged a series of public letters to smooth over the tension.
"In the past, if the Iran and the US even spoke that was huge news," Parsi observed. "Now it's nothing to report, it's pretty normal." This style of public diplomacy is a far cry from the final days of the Bush administration, when the CIA seriously was weighing the costs and benefits of bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. ...