Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US, and the Twisted Path to Confrontation

NEW YORK, Dec. 17, 2007 - The complex relationship between the United States and Iran has been one of the most enduring foreign policy challenges for both countries over the last three decades. In this absorbing discussion moderated by Suzanne DiMaggio, director of the Asian Social Issues Program at the Asia Society, author Barbara Slavin talks about her new book, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US, and the Twisted Path to Confrontation, and how Iranian and American relations have evolved in recent years.

With unparalleled access to high level officials in the US and Iran and years of experience covering Iran and the Middle East for USA Today, Slavin presents a fascinating narrative of how opportunities to settle long-simmering disputes over the past decade were missed due to entrenched political interests and ideological short-sightedness among leaders in both countries. Slavin also explores the life and personality of Iran's controversial hard-line leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and discusses what the December 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) may mean for the future of US-Iranian relations.

Listen on Demand (1 hr., 16 min.)

Please note: A limited number of signed copies of Barbara Slavin's book, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation, are available through Asia Society's AsiaStore.

Barbara Slavin has been a senior diplomatic reporter for USA TODAY since 1996, responsible for analyzing foreign news and US foreign policy. She has covered such key issues as the US-led war on terrorism and in Iraq, policy toward "rogue" states and the Arab-Israeli conflict. She has accompanied three secretaries of State on their official travels and also reported from Iran, Libya, Israel, Egypt, North Korea, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Syria. She is a regular commentator on US foreign policy on National Public Radio, the Public Broadcasting System and C-Span. In October, she joined the US Institute of Peace as a Jennings Randolph Fellow, to continue her research on Iran.

Prior to joining USA TODAY, she was a Washington-based writer for The Economist and the Los Angeles Times, covering domestic and foreign policy issues, including the 1991-93 Middle East peace talks in Washington. From 1985-89, Ms. Slavin was The Economist correspondent in Cairo. She traveled widely in the Middle East, covering the Iran-Iraq war, the 1986 US bombing of Libya, the political evolution of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism. Earlier in the 1980s, she served as The Economist correspondent in Beijing and also reported from Japan and South Korea.

Before Ms. Slavin moved abroad, she was a writer and editor for the New York Times' Week in Review section and a reporter and editor for United Press International in New York City. She received her BA in Russian language and literature from Harvard University and also studied at Leningrad State University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Barbara Slavin's Official Website

Suzanne DiMaggio was appointed director of the Asian Social Issues Program at the Asia Society in September 2007. She previously served as the vice president of Global Policy Programs at the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA), where she oversaw the Association's activities aimed at promoting multilateral approaches to global problem solving and encouraging constructive US international engagement.

In addition to these responsibilities, she directed UNA-USA's "Track Two" dialogues with partners in the Middle East and Asia on a range of issues, including regional security, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, multilateral peace operations, and global environmental governance. From 2002 to 2007, she directed a US-Iran policy dialogue in cooperation with a group of scholars and policy analysts based at universities and research institutes in Tehran with connections to various power centers in Iran. In the absence of official diplomatic relations between the two countries, the dialogue became one of the few bridges facilitating sustained, face-to-face discussions between Americans and Iranians.