Iran Negotiations – Why Now?
Yesterday, July 28, Admiral Jim Stavridis (Ret.) published an op-ed in Huffington Post describing why now is the right time to cooperate with Iran, especially when the country has been supporting Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria. He began by suggesting that the U.S. and Iran establish a rapport on common grounds, such as countering extremist organizations in Iraq and controlling drug traffic outside of Afghanistan. Cooperating on these things could help bring stability to the region. He then listed 5 reasons why we should reimagine the U.S.-Iranian relationship:
- Secular leader President Hassan Rouhani may be willing to consider a new version of the U.S.-Iran relationship.
- Sanctions have given us leverage that can be exploited. This is what brought Iran to the negotiating table.
- The Sunni extremist movement in the region is a threat to both countries and needs to be dealt with. Both countries will need to provide the Iraqi government with military support.
- Both countries have an interest in defeating pirate operations around the Horn of Africa and could cooperate by exchanging intelligence and information. Establishing protocols on how to diffuse confrontations in the Arabian Gulf would also prove beneficial.
- Iran and the U.S. have a shared interest in stopping the flow of opium and heroin from Afghanistan. These illicit drugs result in corruption and violence, and both countries could work together with drug enforcement teams.
Admiral Stavridis concluded with a Persian proverb in regards to the changing nature of U.S.-Iran relations:
“Necessity can change a lion into a fox.” The U.S. historically tends to approach foreign policy like a lion, which has its benefits, but it may be time to think more like a fox in our approach to the Persian state.
You can find the full op-ed here: Why This Is the Right Time to Cooperate With Iran
ASP supports the extension of the Iran negotiations, and believes that the best way to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis is through diplomatic means. Coupled with public diplomacy efforts, this could lead to a normalization of relations over time, bringing some stability to the region.
Theresa Shaffer is a nuclear security researcher and intern at the American Security Project. She is a recent graduate of the University of North Texas with degrees in International Studies and French. You can follow her on twitter here: Theresa Shaffer
The better corollary is the US relationship with the Soviet Union. Over the course of the Cold War there have been moments of detente and exchange, but what never changed was the commitment by the US, through Democratic and Republican administrations alike, that the Soviet empire’s form of government and way of life were at its core antithetical with the US. The belief that Soviet communism had to be ultimately defeated resonated as a core policy of the US for over 50 years and in the end was proven true with the collapse of the Berlin Wall. It took that kind of commitment, focus and bi-partisan resolve to accomplish the task and the approach to Iran needs to be similar because at its core, a religiously orthodox nation controlling the largest standing army in the region with an abysmal human rights record that is at odds with our way of life needs to be fundamentally changed in order to progress.
Now many would say who are we to impose our Western values on another nation. I would submit the same argument can be applied to Iran’s attempts to export its brand of Islamic fundamentalism through its support of terror groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas and support for regimes such as Assad and Maliki. The creation of similar bastions of radical Islamic fundamentalism that oppresses women, bars free speech, discourages creative expansion and criminalizes homosexuality is eventually going to be at odds with us to such an extent that conflict will continue ad infinitum. To think the US and Iran can join hands and sing along is simplistic, naive and dangerously childlike in its world view.
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