President Obama's interview on BBC Persian analyzed.

Posted: 26 Sep 2010   Print   Send a link
Washington Post, 25 Sept 2010, Glenn Kessler: "Nearly two years after President Obama took office, the broad outlines of his Iran policy are clear: accumulate leverage, keep your options open, and prepare for the worst. The strategy was illustrated Friday when the president took to the airwaves of Iran, granting a lengthy interview to the BBC Persian service in which he balanced sometimes dissonant themes: praise for the Iranian people; a willingness to seek a diplomatic solution to the impasse over the government's nuclear ambitions; condemnation of the Iranian president; and rhetorical support for the opposition movement that seeks to topple the leadership with whom Obama needs to make a deal."

International Business Times, 25 Sept 2010, Nagesh Narayana: "U.S. President Barack Obama has once again appealed directly to Iranian people over the BBC Persian service on Friday, in a rare showcase of technology surpassing the boundaries of official communication channels. ... And his efforts to appeal to the people of Iran are, in fact, part of a new strategy aimed at winning the confidence of people and roll out a new diplomacy aided by technology."

Los Angeles Times, Top of the Ticket, 24 Sept 2010, Andrew Malcolm: "And given today's modern communications and porous political curtains, thanks to cellphones, txt msgs, e-mails, tweets and web-browsing on the BBC's array of multilingual sites and others in the region, many thousands of Iranians already knew the details of this interview well before you clicked on this page. The Obama message was delivered for free, costing only 24 minutes of presidential time. And he never even had to leave the Waldorf Astoria."

BBC News, 25 Sept 2010, Bahman Kalbasi, BBC Persian: "Interviewing US President Barack Obama, I felt a weight of responsibility. This was the first time an Iranian reporter had interviewed President Obama, and our audience in Iran has a wide range of questions and concerns about the policies of United States government. My challenge was to try to address those questions and concerns in just 20 minutes, the time I was given to interview the most powerful man in the world."

There was consternation at VOA because BBC Persian, and not VOA Persian News Network, was granted this interview. The White House may have selected BBC because of the perception, however incorrect, that VOA is the administration's poodle. This perception would also not be helpful for VOA.

Instead of trying to get its own interview with the President, VOA Persian News Network should wait for the next occasion in which British-Iranian relations are in the news. Then, using its large audience in Iran as collateral, try to get an interview with David Cameron, Nick Clegg, or William Hague. For the same reason the White House opted for BBC, Whitehall might choose VOA PNN as its avenue to speak to the Iranian people. See previous post about same subject.