Statecraft and Stagecraft

Majid Saeedi / Getty Images

President Rouhani deplanes to cheers and jeers as he returns to Tehran on September 28 after visiting the U.S.

When important geopolitical events occur, we tend to see them through the prism of history: pictures from the past shape our understanding of the present. So, after the diplomatic breakthrough between Iran and the U.S. during the U.N. General Assembly in late September — topped off with an unprecedented 15-minute phone call between President Obama and President Hassan Rouhani — it is tempting to ask, Is this 1972 again? Is there a possibility of a dramatic change in relations between the two countries, the kind that took place between the U.S. and China when President Richard Nixon visited Chairman...

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