Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Mutual Interests of Iran and the US

The following letter appeared in the New York Times on May 19, 2008. When a letter to the editor is written by a distinguished writer, the NYT provides a brief bio. This is what they wrote about this correspondent: "The writer is a professor of international relations at Bentley College and a former adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiation team."

To the Editor:

I disagree with the use of cold-war terminology to describe the competition between the United States and Iran in the Middle East today.

The United States and Iran share a great deal, despite their division with respect to Israel, Lebanaon and other interests. There is their common support for the Shiite-led government in Iraq and for the government of Afghanistan, as well as their common enmity toward Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

With their spheres of influence partially overlapping, the United States and Iran can potentially transition from the "new cold war" environment in the Middle East to a post-cold war based on selective cooperation and mutual respect. And they can do this with a greater ease than the previous cold war, particularly if the United States and its allies provide clear security guarantees and pledge to respect Iran's sovereignty.

Kaveh L. Afrasiabi
Waltham, Mass


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