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Iran at a Crossroads

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Iran used to be a pretty black-and-white issue. You either wanted war, or not. Diplomacy, or not. Regime change, or not.

Those days of simple choices between two clear opposites-they're long gone.

Now, the rise of an indigenous opposition movement has thrown a new set of variables into questions of "regime change," diplomacy, and even human rights. Iran-watchers are struggling with the cognitive dissonance of it all: how can you still oppose war but support the dismantling of the Islamic theocracy? How can someone help the opposition but still oppose overt US government involvement? And don't even get me started on the nuclear issue...

All of this confusion amid the new complex reality of post-June 12th Iran means it's probably a good thing that people are still debating the issue as vigorously as ever. Open any major newspaper in the US and chances are you'll find at least one or two (often four or five) different articles about Iran. From op-eds advocating a preemptive strike, to analysts who say the Green Movement is just a fad-there is a wider diversity of opinions now than ever before. Even politicians and pundits who might otherwise have the luxury of ignoring the Iran issue are being forced to weigh in (see Palin, Sarah), and despite their often ludicrous claims, ultimately the best thing for US-Iran policy is a robust debate about substantive issues. That's the only way we'll be able to think our way through this difficult challenge.

(Incidentally, some major steps have already been taken in formulating a coherent policy proposal: see here and here for one approach that's coming clearer into view).

One goal of the National Iranian American Council is to contribute some wisdom and clarity to the debate on Iran -- both among the Iranian-American community and inside the Washington DC beltway. Toward that end, we are pleased to announce our upcoming conference on Capitol Hill: "Iran at a Crossroads: Assessing a Changing Landscape." We're bringing together the top Iran experts in the world, alongside members of Congress and their staffs, to explore the most important questions facing US-Iran policy today.

We'll look into the current state of the Green Movement as the latest chapter in Iran's 100-year democratic evolution. We'll examine the prospects for US-Iran relations one year after President Obama began his engagement strategy, and we'll try to determine if there is a US-Iran war looming on the horizon. (And we'll also celebrate the upcoming Norooz holiday with some excellent food and our very own haft-seen table).

The video will be streamed live on our blog, niacINsight, so check it out Wednesday morning (March 10) at 9am for the feed. Or feel free to RSVP and show up in person.

We are grateful to our special guests Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), along with all of our excellent panelists.

Full info is available at niacouncil.org/march10. Hope to see you there!