In February 2002, President George W. Bush, in his second trip to China, recalled the meeting that came out of Ping-Pong diplomacy, telling President Jiang Zemin: "Thirty years ago this week, President Richard Nixon showed the world that two vastly different governments could meet on the grounds of common interest and in a spirit of mutual respect."
In 1972, the world watched with suspicion the move of China into the gallery of great nations. They came through a back door. A ping pong tournament. Because of the respect born on the tiny table, Richard Nixon and Chou en Lai were able to open the doors to each other's nation. A wary eye from each side has marked this relationship ever since. It would be great if there were no sides and no wary eyes. We know that the world did not end when relationships were normalized between these two great countries. We know that there have been tests of will over the years. We know there has been great good done because of the relationship. China is a huge country still controlled by a powerful few. The results of cooperation have made the world more prosperous for all, and generally more peaceful.
Barack Obama has made a similar opening to another great country, Iran. It too is controlled by a powerful few. It's a country rich in people, natural resources, and history bearing on our Judeo-Christian heritage. The country has been ostracized as a rogue state, similar in many ways to China. The efforts to open the door to Iran has been monumental, except for missing the ping pong. An agreement has been hammered out, not perfect by any means. Agreements, compromises never are perfect. They can only be evaluated by results. If a war is prevented, if lives are saved, if the breath of freedom can be felt by another country long suffering from sanctions imposed by other nations, then the agreement is worth it. If it's war that nations want, that can happen anytime. We do that too often. When it comes to waging peace, it takes something else. It will be good to give peace a chance.
The world will not end when relationships are normalized between Iran and the rest of the world. There will be tests of will over the years. Great good will result from this new relationship. Although Iran is a huge country controlled by a powerful few, the results of cooperation will make the world more prosperous for all, and generally more peaceful.