What should the United States do about Iran? The question is easily asked, but for the nearly thirty years since the Iranian revolution, Washington has had difficulty coming up with a good answer. Many Iranian leaders regard the United States as their greatest enemy for ideological, nationalistic, and security reasons, while a great many average Iranians evince the most pro-American feelings of any in the Muslim world. Yet, the Islamic Republic presents a particularly confounding series of challenges for the United States. Concerns include Iran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons program, its association with advanced weapons use against Americans in Iraq, and its support for destabilizing forces in Lebanon and Palestine.
Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour discusses how three decades of limited contact with Iran's leaders has made it difficult for the U.S. to grasp the opaque workings of the regime, and why the current administration has made clear the importance of better understanding the Iranian landscape.
Karim Sadjadpour is an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He joined Carnegie after four years as the chief Iran analyst at the International Crisis Group based in Tehran and Washington, D.C.. A leading researcher on Iran, he has conducted dozens of interviews with senior Iranian officials, and hundreds with Iranian intellectuals, clerics, dissidents, paramilitaries, businessmen, students, activists, and youth, among others. Frequently called upon to brief U.S. and EU officials about Middle Eastern affairs, he has testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, given lectures at Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford Universities, and has been the recipient of numerous academic awards, including a Fulbright scholarship. He received his B.A. from the University of Michigan and his M.A. from Johns Hopkins' School of Advanced International Studies.
Recorded Thursday, November 19, 2009 at InterContinental Hotel.