Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prof. Gary Sick on U.S.-Iran relations: "The most promising point we've had."

"It's an historic opportunity."

That is how Prof. Gary Sick characterizes relations today between the United States and Iran.

Prof. Sick had a front-row seat when 52 U.S. diplomats were captured in Tehran and held hostage for 444 days from 1979-81. He is currently in Bologna teaching a four-part lecture series on the United States and the Gulf. He is an example of the intellectual and professional expertise that SAIS students can tap into and which helps set the SAIS experience apart.

Consider Sick's track record: He served on the National Security Council under U.S. Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan. He was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the 1979-81 hostage crisis.

An adjunct professor and senior research scholar at Columbia University, Sick has worked at the Ford Foundation, is an emeritus member of the board of Human Rights Watch in New York and serves as executive director of Gulf/2000, an international online project on developments in the Gulf.

Sick, who is teaching his mini-course in Bologna for the 4th consecutive year, spoke to us about his course and U.S. relations with Iran in an interview that can be seen below.

Asked if he is more optimistic about relations between Washington and Tehran this year than last, he said, "This is the most promising point we've had between these two countries." Noting that the U.S. and Iran have many converging interests, he said: "If they can't find a way out of this, then perhaps there is no way out."

What he would say to the U.S. and Iranian presidents if he met them in an elevator? "Don't be deflected from your main purpose."

Has SAIS Europe changed since he started teaching here? "As far as I can tell, the school itself has not changed. It's a very happy place."

If you are reading this via email, you can see the video here.

Nelson Graves

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