What the U.S.-China Experience Can Teach About Iran’s Future

The results from Iran’s recent elections indicate that reformists and moderates have made gains in both the parliament and the Assembly of Experts—the body that will pick the next Supreme Leader of Iran. These results are already setting off intensified speculation about the long-term domestic political implications of the nuclear agreement, and whether over time the deal can transform the Iranian political system. While a helpful barometer, one election will not be that predictive of where Iran may go in the next 10-15 years. A more useful exercise is to look at similar historical examples for lessons of how a major geopolitical opening may effect a closed regime. In this regard, the lessons from Nixon’s 1972 opening to China and the ensuing changes in Chinese domestic politics, the U.S.-China relationship, and American alliances in East Asia are highly instructive.

This article was originally published in The National Interest.