On Tuesday, June 4, 2013, Dr. Hossein Mousavian, Research Scholar at Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs, spoke on the topic, “The Shared Interests of the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran”. The intent in this event was to emphasize shared interests. Current sanctions and focus on nuclear issues distracts from and obscures shared interests. Pursuit of shared interests would reduce hostilities in the region.
Here is a brief summary of Dr. Mousavian’s presentation.
Background: The 157 years of U.S.-Iranian relations can be divided into three periods:
Good relations from 1800 till 1953 when Kermit Roosevelt led a CIA coup against democratically elected Mohammad Mossaddegh
Domination from 1953-1979 through the Shah
Up to 1953, the U.S. made a strong American contribution to Iran’s development. In 1879, for example the U.S. established the College of Medicine in Tehran.
Today there is mutual distrust caused by a long series of incidents:
The U.S. provided safe haven for the Shah after he was overthrown. In response, Iranian students overtook the American Embassy.
The U.S. armed Iraq against Iran in the 10 year Iraq-Iran war, 1979-1987. A million Iranians were killed in that war and Americans knew that Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran. People in Iran are still dying from chemical effects of that war.
Iran has made a number of overtures toward negotiation which have been rejected by the U.S., believing that the Iranian overtures are not made in good faith.
The LIPW board recently sent a compassionate expression to the people of Newtown, Connecticut, copied below. This is based on the statement adopted by the LIPW Board printed after the letter. The letter contains suggestions for protection from gun violence
To the Families of Newtown,
It is a sad truth of our times that though you do not know us, we all too well know of you. The tragedy that came to Sandy Hook Elementary School shook the nation; it shook those of us who are members of the Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness. LIPW is an interdenominational group of clergy and laypeople that cares deeply about bringing shalom in all senses of the word to all of God’s creatures. Violence in its many forms can only wound and divide. That is why we seek steps, no matter how small, to end violence; it is why we seek healing.
Most of us have never lived in or visited Newtown, though one member actually lived in Sandy Hook and knows people directly affected by the shooting. All of us, however, are united in grieving with you. But grieving, alone, is not enough. We must work to ensure that tragedies such as yours do not continue to occur. To that end, we have recently supported two initiatives for sensible gun control (see below). They call for common sense ideas, such as universal background checks, the renewal and strengthening of the assault weapons ban, and the classification of gun trafficking as a federal crime. We have followed in the press the efforts of many of the Sandy Hook families to bring about universal background checks and we share with them disappointment at the recent failure of Congress to pass such legislation. However, the work has only begun. We will continue to press for well-needed gun control. We just wanted you to know of our support for what you have attempted to do.
But more important, we want you to know that we support you as people, as a community that has endured such loss and pain. You remain in our prayers.
The Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness
Lancaster County, PA
May 16, 2013
Dr. Hossein Mousavian Tuesday, June 4, 2013 @ 7:30 pm Church of the Apostles • 1850 Marietta Avenue • Lancaster PA
Dr. Hossein Mousavian, Research Scholar at Woodrow Wilson School of Public Affairs, will speak on the topic, “The Shared Interests of the US and the Islamic Republic of Iran”. He will be introduced by a Specialist on Iran, Ed Martin.
A native of Iran, Dr. Mousavian spent more than two decades working on Iranian foreign affairs, and has, since 2009, been a visiting research scholar at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. His experience and expertise will demonstrate how important it is for the United States to rethink its policy in the Persian Gulf and Middle East. Iran’s major foreign policy concern is preserving its own identity as the Islamic Republic. Guaranteeing ontological security and sustaining Iran’s identity need to be priorities for the United States, and the U.S. will be far better served in its efforts to do so not by championing a regime change, but rather by focusing on common goals shared by both nations. Together, Iran and the U.S. can create policies to facilitate both countries’ security objectives, and by cooperating in this manner, the U.S. will save so much in terms of blood, budget, credibility, and influence. A focus on similarities between the Unites States and Iran can serve as a foreign policy model for the whole Middle East, demonstrating the effectiveness of two nations striving to cooperate with each other in order to create a more stable, secure, and economically prosperous region. In turn, such an approach will also ensure that the interests of other international players such as Russia, China, and the European Union are taken into account, facilitating peace efforts around the globe. (Written by Emily Birch, LIPW Program Committee)