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During Iran's 2013 presidential campaign, Hassan Rouhani marketed himself to a wary Iranian public and hard-line political establishment as the man who could reconcile the ideological prerogatives of the Islamic Republic with the economic interests of the Iranian nation. Iran did not need to decide whether to wage Death to America or detente, whether to resist the global order or reintegrate with it, or whether to be theocratic or democratic. Under his leadership, Rouhani implied, the Islamic Republic of Iran could do it all.From the outset of his presidency, Rouhani understood that Iran's economic malaise could not be reversed without a lifting of international sanctions, and lifting these sanctions required a deal over Iran's nuclear program. Rouhani himself broke a 35-year Islamic Republic taboo by talking via telephone with President Barack Obama.Unless and until Iran prioritizes national and economic interests before revolutionary ideology, it will continue to remain a country with enormous but squandered potential.
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