Gates: U.S. should find common interests in Iran
Published: Friday, December 3, 2004
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07
Texas A&M President Robert M. Gates said the United States must deal with the Iranian regime rather than hope for its demise.
"Even in the darkest days of the Cold War, we had a reliable channel of direct dialogue with both the Soviet Union and China," Gates said. "That channel played a key role at various times in preventing a cold conflict from turning hot."
As the fourth lecturer in the Bush School National Security Seminar, Gates summarized the findings of an Independent Task Force Thursday for a crowd of about 130 people in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center. The speech was sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, a task force which he co-chaired.
Gates said the United States should selectively engage with Iran in the areas of regional stability, nuclear weapons and terrorism, which are the most urgent to U.S. concerns.
"Washington should approach Iran with readiness to explore areas of common interest while continuing to contest objectionable policies," Gates said.
The United States should not pursue a cure-all bargain that would settle the conflicts between the two nations, but should engage on issues of mutual interest and allow time to work through the divisive issues, Gates said.
He added that the United States should utilize Iran's economic interests as a way to relate commercially.
"(This) could be a powerful tool in Washington's arsenal," Gates said.
Gates said the United States should promote internal political change in Iran rather than regime change, as the latter would likely stir up nationalist sentiment.
Marissa Nering, Class of 2002, said she enjoyed Gates' perspective but would have liked to see more students attend the seminar.
"I enjoyed the insight about the administrative (workings) of the CIA," Nering said.
Michael Desch, the Robert M. Gates Chair in Intelligence and National Security Decision-Making at the Bush School, said Gates' lecture provided an inimitable opportunity for students.
"How to deal with the Iranian nuclear program is probably one of the top two or three foreign policy issues this country faces," Desch said. "And to have somebody with his expertise available to speak on it ... it's an important opportunity."