In the Middle East of the 21st Century, Iran will be a key center of gravity...a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality. America's strategic 21st century regional policy for the Middle East must acknowledge the role of Iran today and over the next 25 years.
To acknowledge that reality in no way confuses Iran's dangerous, destabilizing and threatening behavior in the region. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and provides material support to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups. Iran publicly threatens Israel and is developing the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has not helped stabilize the current chaos in Iraq and is responsible for weapons and explosives being used against U.S. and Iraqi military forces in Iraq.
Iran must be held accountable for its actions. These actions by Iran are one part of a complicated picture of a country with a three thousand year history, governed by a complex and opaque political structure, burdened by a stagnating economy, and located in a geostrategically unstable region.
Iran has cooperated with the United States on Afghanistan to help the Afghans establish a new government after the Taliban was ousted. Iran continues to invest heavily in the reconstruction of western Afghanistan.
On Afghanistan, the United States and Iran found common interests - defeating the Taliban and Islamic radicals, stabilizing Afghanistan, stopping the opium production and the flow of opium coming into Iran. From these common interests emerged common actions working toward a common purpose. It was in the interests of Iran to work with the U.S. in Afghanistan. It was not a matter of helping America or strengthening America's presence in Central Asia. It was a clear-eyed and self-serving action for Iran.