Rise of the ‘Iran Lobby’

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Michael Stinson

Another AIC board member, J. Michael Stinson, is also retired from the Conoco Phillips Company, where he was senior vice president for government affairs. He, too, looked forward to the possibility that companies like Conoco might one day gain access to Iranian oil fields. Speaking in November 2001 about the relationship between Iran and the U.S., he said: “’We’ve been encouraged in the last couple of months….We see evidence of things going on, like very quiet government-to-government talks about the issues that are separating us. If they succeed, we have a bright future.”25

Bill Miller

One of the other prominent fixtures in the Iran Lobby is Ambassador William G. Miller.  He too was a member of the AIC’s board of directors and advisory council.  Miller is currently Senior Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington and Senior Advisor to the US-Iran Program at Search for Common Ground since 1998.

Miller served as political officer for the U.S. Embassy in Tehran from 1962 to 1964 and at the U.S. Consulate in Isfahan, Iran from 1959 to 1962. His affinity for the mullahs was evident when he subsequently served as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1979.  During that era, Miller actually recommended that the U.S. support the Ayatollah Khomeini, whom he thought would be a “progressive force for human rights.”26

A fluent Farsi speaker, Miller travels regularly to Tehran, where he maintains a relationship with the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.  Miller was an attendee at the April 2006 Pugwash Conference held in Tehran and entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Energy Program: Policies and Prospects.”27 Miller is also a close associate of NIAC President Trita Parsi.

In the decades since the Khomeini Revolution, Miller has been a consistent advocate for a more convivial relationship between the U.S. and Iran. In a 1999 statement broadcast by the Voice of America, Miller said that “the more Americans and Iranians interact the better.” Incredibly, he added his belief that “Iran is not fundamentalist.  Iran is a very complicated society which has a varied approach to many of the aspects of life.  Its religion is led by people of great learning and distinction. It has men of great openness and character among the religious leadership with whom you can have a very direct and constructive dialogue.”28On this and other issues involving the U.S.-Iran relationship, Miller’s position regularly and reliably reflects that of the Iranian clerical regime.

Thomas Pickering

One of the most prominent names among AIC’s board of directors that reappears repeatedly in legitimating positions elsewhere in the Iran Lobby network, is that  of Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering. A career diplomat, Pickering served as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs from May 1997 through the end of 2000.  He subsequently was a senior vice president with the Boeing Company until 2006.  Currently he is vice chairman of the international business consulting firm, Hills & Co. and co-chairman of the board of directors of the International Crisis Group (whose executive committee includes, interestingly,  George Soros).

Ambassador Pickering’s positions on Iran include calls for bilateral talks without preconditions and a plan for a multinational uranium enrichment consortium in Iran. Iran has proposed a similar plan to the UN Security Council. Ambassador Pickering advocates a process leading to mutual diplomatic relations between Iran and the United States. He also cites positive experiences as a tourist in Iran, where he recalls that ordinary Iranians on the streets expressed friendliness towards him.29

Center for Security Policy

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