Secretary of State John Kerry appealed to a wider audience than the Washington, DC talking heads of television with a video explaining the nuances of the nuclear agreement between world powers and Iran.
Amid mounting criticism of the 6-month agreement by Israel, the Saudis and leading members of Congress, Kerry gave a fairly straightforward account of what he called the "first-step" agreement to a comprehensive pact with Iran to restrict its ability to develop a nuclear weapon.
The video, which lacks a lot of professional touches, features Kerry talking into a camera and explaining the deal in reasonable detail, especially involving Iran's current and projected capacity to generate the fuel for a nuclear bomb.
While the video won't silence domestic or international critics, it does represent an intriguing move to make complex foreign affairs accessible to anyone interested enough to take five minutes to listen.
On the other side of the world, Iran has deployed social media to explain its side of the deal, which includes relief from some economic sanctions that have strained its economy.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flexed his access to major television network news outlet to express his misgivings with the deal, while the Saudis and Sunni Arab Gulf monarchies let their allies know through trusted channels of their displeasure with a pact involving Shiites.
The United States has never been adept at triangulating foreign policy conundrums that don't resolve themselves in black and white, but shades of gray. The politics and alliances, visible and invisible, of the Middle East are anything but black and white.
Most of the talkie-talk on news shows centers on the disagreement over the negotiated Iran agreement, much as if it were a domestic political contest. In reality, the breakthrough with Iran, even a deal with little material benefit for either side, represents a potential shift in the power center of the troubled and troublesome Middle East. It also could signal a deeper commitment, at least by this administration, to go out on a diplomatic limb before going out on a military limb.
Warmer relations between the United States and other Western powers with Iran may unsettle Israel and Saudi Arabia, but it could recalibrate the balance of power and influence from Syria to Afghanistan. The nuclear arms deal, in other words, could be about more than nuclear weapons. Normalized relation with Iran could give stability to a region sorely lacking it, according to some geopolitical experts.
Kerry's video appeal to average Americans may be the opening salvo in a new foreign policy strategy to disengage from Middle Eastern sectarian disputes to focus on intensifying Pacific Rim conflicts. Perhaps it wasn't coincidental that the United States sent two unarmed bombers through newly claimed Chinese airspace just as the ink was drying on the interim agreement with Iran.