June 28, 2013, Washington, D.C. – On June 27th, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force launched a new issue brief by Ramin Asgard and Barbara Slavin entitled “US-Iran Cultural Engagement: A Cost Effective Boon to US National Security,” along with a public briefing on people-to-people exchanges with Iran.
The briefing showed that while US policy toward Iran has understandably focused on the nuclear question, the history of US cultural diplomacy suggests that programs promoting the good will of the Iranian people can help moderate Iranian government policies over the long term and foster research that is of mutual benefit.
Speaking at the briefing was Ramin Asgard, an independent expert on Iran and a former US Foreign Service Officer, Glenn E. Schweitzer, the Director of the Office for Central Europe and Eurasia of the National Academies in Washington, and Morad Ghorban, PAAIA’s Director of Government Affairs & Policy.
Asgard and Schweitzer discussed the history of US exchanges with Iran, applicable lessons from the Cold War, and recommendations to increase and better administer these programs. Ghorban spoke about the results of PAAIA’s National Surveys of Iranian Americans, including the demographics of the Iranian American community, their close ties with the people of Iran, their interests in seeing a democratic Iran that respects human rights, and their support for the establishment of a US Interests Section in Iran.
To increase cultural engagement with Iran, the briefing recommended creating a non-official or quasi-official US-Iran Cultural Exchanges working group, creating a modified Fulbright program for Iranians, maximizing the performance of Persian language international broadcasters such as Voice of America and Radio Farda, and establishing a US Interests Section in Iran.
Click here to read the full publication of “US-Iran Cultural Engagement: A Cost Effective Boon to US National Security.”