After months of reacting to nonstop crises, Barack Obama has reclaimed his foreign policy narrative this summer — at least for now.In the past week, he has sealed the nuclear deal with Iran he has sought since taking office. And on Monday, he officially restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since 1961.The two events were the product of a vision Obama first articulated as a candidate in 2008, when he vowed to challenge “conventional Washington thinking” about America’s role in the world and pledged a new era of diplomatic outreach. Secretary of State John Kerry commemorated the new Cuba policy by hosting Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez at the State Department on Monday, the first official visit by a top Cuban diplomat to Washington since 1958.“The United States welcomes the new beginning of its relations with the people of the government of Cuba,” Kerry said, speaking in polished Spanish. “We are determined to live as good neighbors on the basis of mutual respect.”The White House welcomed a sense that Obama is challenging old assumptions about U.S. foreign policy on multiple fronts. “This is yet another demonstration that we don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement. (That past includes Kerry himself: In an October 2005 address at Georgetown University, Kerry named both Iran and Cuba as being among “regimes we rightfully despise.”)On a day when the United Nations Security Council approved a key component of the Iran nuclear deal, Republicans also drew a connection between Obama’s Iran and Cuba policies.“History will remember July 20, 2015, as Obama’s Capitulation Monday, the day two sworn enemies of the United States were able to outmaneuver President Obama to secure historic concessions,” Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a 2016 presidential contender, said in a statement.Kerry, who will travel to Havana on Aug. 14 to raise the American flag over the U.S. Embassy there, did not suggest on Monday that Washington and Havana are now in perfect harmony. “This does not signify an end to the differences that separate our governments,” he said. “But it does reflect the reality that the Cold War ended long ago.” Though different in their particulars, Obama’s policies toward Cuba and Iran have some noteworthy parallels. In both cases, Republicans in Congress and on the 2016 presidential campaign trail are almost uniformly hostile. In both cases, Kerry and Obama are betting that dialogue will encourage political reform and progress on shared interests.“Both governments are better served by engagement than by estrangement,” Kerry said Monday.And in both Cuba and Iran, administration officials are warning that the new agreements will be tested. On Monday, Kerry cautioned that the emerging relationship with Cuba would face “bumps in the road.” Likewise, Kerry said last week that the Iran nuclear deal is likely to encounter glitches: “I’m not going to stand here and tell you that everything’s going to work without a bump, without a hitch in the road,” Kerry said.In each case, major ideological differences underlie the improved relationships. Iran’s supreme leader speaks about the U.S. with open hostility, for instance, while America and Iran compete for influence in Iraq.And even as he and Kerry exchanged sunny words about new beginnings Monday, Cuba’s Rodríguez reiterated his country’s demands for a total end to America’s economic embargo on Havana and insisted that the U.S. military base at Cuba’s Guantánamo Bay occupies “illegally occupied territory” and must be closed.The Guantánamo base’s closure is not under consideration, even if Obama is trying to shutter the famous detention camp on its grounds. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that will lift sanctions on Iran after Tehran has taken steps to limit its nuclear program in compliance with the deal. Some key members of Congress, including the top two members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had urged the Obama administration to delay the vote.Kerry said he would have preferred that Congress act first but that America’s five other negotiating partners in Vienna — France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and China — did not want to wait. A 90-day delay of the U.N. measure’s implementation included in the deal represents a “compromise” solution, Kerry said.“The rights of the Congress to make its evaluation have not changed,” he added. Republican control of Congress means that the U.S. embargo on Cuba isn’t about to end, meanwhile. Republicans have denounced Obama’s opening with Cuba, arguing that the communist regime there has made little progress on human rights and political freedom.But congressional opposition could not block the restoration of diplomatic ties, marked on Monday when Cuba raised its flag over its embassy building on Washington’s 16th Street NW, which had served as the country’s interests section since 1961. That became possible after the State Department removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism this spring.The State Department also raised a Cuban flag in its main atrium Monday morning.The U.S. Embassy in Havana also opened for full diplomatic business Monday, although the U.S. flag won’t fly there until Kerry hoists it next month.Though Kerry will enjoy a major ceremonial role in Havana when he visits the U.S. Embassy there next month, he has been less involved in Cuba policy than in the Middle East and Russia. Much of the diplomatic legwork on Cuba was conducted by top officials on Obama’s National Security Council.As if to underscore the point, Kerry was asked Monday about criticism from lawmakers angry that the United Nations acted on the nuclear agreement Monday morning, before Congress could cast a vote on the deal.