With the world seemingly exploding around us, it may be time to consider our relationship with Iran. As Henry Kissinger said once, to solve the biggest problems, sometimes it is necessary to expand them. We should seriously explore ways in which our deeply problematic relationship with Iran can be improved through finding small zones of cooperation -- including perhaps in Iraq today, which presents an opening of somewhat aligned interest in defeating the emerging danger of the ultra-violent extremist organization the Islamic State.
The broad advantage of opening at least some cooperation with Iran is obvious. It is a large, powerful state of nearly 80 million industrious and well-educated citizens situated in the center of a geopolitically important region. Iran has an ancient civilization of which they are deeply proud, a capable and innovative military with nearly a million servicemen and women, large hydrocarbon reserves, and a leadership role in the Shi'a world. Working with it where we can might help nudge the world's most turbulent region toward more stability.
Are there even more obvious negatives associated with the U.S.-Iranian relationship? Of course, beginning with a harsh theocratic governance system, Iranian support of Hezbollah and the vicious Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad and its ambitions to dominate the Gulf. It is publicly, implacably and diametrically opposed to the U.S. on a broad range of fronts, from policy in Latin America to the global energy markets. And most concerning, it is clearly pursuing nuclear weapons -- something the U.S. has consistently opposed in every dimension.
So why now? Given all the doubts surrounding Iranian long-term strategy and motives, why should we even consider an opening?
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