Lawrence Freedman’s post, “Iran, History, and Strategy by Analogy,” in the strategic and military affairs blog “War on the Rocks,” is a thorough and respectful engagement with Elliott Abrams’s recent article in THE WEEKLY STANDARD, “A Misleading Cold War Analogy: Don’t count on containing Iran.”

Freedman, a former foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair, and professor of war studies at King’s College London, takes on Abrams’s major points of alignment between the Cold War and the present, and focuses on what he describes as the most important question the article raises—“whether there are any grounds for optimism in the recent political developments in Iran.”

Freedman is wary but finally less skeptical than our author, and concludes that “even if one is gloomy about the long-term prospects it makes sense to keep open lines of communication to a regional power, as the West did with the Soviet Union.” The challenges in doing so, writes Freedman, “are to be found in the substance, not the process.”

If only Obama administration officials were as clear-minded about engaging the regime in Tehran as this most generous and judicious intellectual sparring partner. The article is well worth reading in its entirety.

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