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Khazeni Lecture

Khazeni Lecture 2015

U.S.-Iranian Relations: Enemies Forever?

For over thirty years, the United States and Iran were stuck on a “road to nowhere”, in an unbreakable downward spiral of futility. What exchanges existed were mostly threats, insults, and empty slogans. We are the “Great Satan” and they are part of the “axis of evil.” Attempts to break the cycle and change the relationship into something more productive – based on mutual interests and managing differences – have faltered due to mistrust, suspicion, and toxic domestic politics in both Tehran and Washington.

The recent (July 2015) nuclear agreement (the JCPOA) between Iran and the P5+1 countries represents a radical change in the way the U.S. and Iran deal with each other. The two countries are still not friends and are unlikely to become so in the near future. Serious disagreements remain. The agreement, however, does show that both sides can achieve their goals by talking – not as friends, but as states with interests and concerns. 

Ambassador John Limbert

John Limbert is a Class of 1955 Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy and, during the academic year 2015-16, was the Gruss-Lipper Visiting Scholar in Middle East Policy at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School. During a 34-year career in the United States Foreign Service, he served mostly in the Middle East and Islamic Africa, including postings in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Guinea, and Sudan. He was ambassador to Mauritania (2000-03) and president of the American Foreign Service Association (2003-05). He also served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2004. In 2009-2010, while on leave of absence from the Naval Academy, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary– responsible for Iranian affairs -- in the U.S. Department of State.

John Limbert received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in History and Middle Eastern Studies. Before joining the Foreign Service he taught in Iran as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kurdistan Province (1964-66) and as an instructor at Shiraz (then Pahlavi) University (1969-72). He has written numerous articles and books on Middle Eastern subjects including Iran at War with History (Westview Press, 1987), Shiraz in the Age of Hafez (University of Washington Press, 2004), and Negotiating with Iran Wrestling the Ghosts of History (U.S. Institute of Peace, 2009).

Ambassador Limbert holds the Department of State’s highest award – the Distinguished Service Award – and the department’s Award for Valor, which he received in 1981 after fourteen months as a hostage in Iran. He is married to the former Parvaneh Tabibzadeh and has two children and four grandchildren.

About the Lecture

The Reza Ali Khazeni Memorial Foundation, College of Humanities and the Middle East Center at University of Utah are the co-sponsors of the Reza Ali Khazeni Memorial Lectures in Iranian Studies at the University of Utah. The goal of the lecture series is to introduce the community to Iran’s rich civilization and heritage.

The Reza Ali Khazeni Memorial Foundation was established in the memory of Reza Ali Khazeni, who was born in Tehran, Iran on June 7, 1968 and died in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 17, 1990. Reza Ali was deeply interested in nature and the preservation of the environment, and was concerned with social injustice and care of the elderly, homeless and the oppressed. He enjoyed traveling and learning about different cultures. Reza Ali appreciated the arts and the humanities and was particularly intrigued by philosophy, in which he earned a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Boston University. He was also interested in the history, culture and civilization of the country of his birth. The goal of the Foundation is to assist individuals and organizations through grants, scholarships, and awards in the study, experience, and public discourse of these issues. The lecture series is a partial realization of this goal.

The Reza Ali Khazeni Memorial Lecture in Iranian Studies is devoted to the various facets of Persian culture and civilization. Leading scholars of Iranian studies are invited to deliver a lecture at the University of Utah on a subject of their expertise within the domain of Persian culture. The topics will range from history to religion and mysticism, from philosophy to art and architecture, from literature to music, and from the study of Iranian society to political and social thought. The speakers will be selected to ensure that the many different facets of Persian culture and history will be covered. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Past Lectures

Ambassador John Limbert
"U.S.-Iranian Relations: Enemies Forever?"
Friday, September 9th, 2016
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Farzaneh Milani
"A Revolution within Two Revolutions: Women and Literature in Contemporary Iran"
Friday, September 11, 2015
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Farhad Daftary
"Shi'i Islam and Its Manifestations in Iran"
Friday, September 19, 2014
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Ali Banuazizi
“Interpreting the Iranian Revolution Three and a Half Decades Later”
Friday September 13, 2013
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Nacim Pak-Shiraz
“Imagining the Diaspora in Iranian Cinema: The ‘Farangi’ in Comedies”
Friday September 7, 2012
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Homa Katouzian
Persia in Perspective
Friday September 9, 2011
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Nader Ardalan
“Luminous Perceptions: Nature, Culture and Spirituality in Persian Architecture”
September 10, 2010

Shireen Mahdavi
“A historical Overview of the Position of Women in Iran”
September 11, 2009
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Martin Schwartz
“The World of Zarathushtra”
September 12, 2008

Vali Nasr
“Shia-Sunni Conflict: Politics of Change in the Middle East”
September 7, 2007

Jean During
“Persian music today: Challenges and Perspectives”
September 9, 2006

Ehsan Yarshater
“The Persian Phase of the Islamic Civilization”
September 9, 2005

Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak
“The Mystical Masternarrative in Persian Literature”
September 10, 2004

Roy Parviz Mottahedeh
“The Strange and Marvelous in Persian Art and Literature”
September 19, 2003

C. Edmund Bosworth
“Iran and Afghanistan: Interaction Through the Ages”
September 13, 2002

David Stronach
“Cyrus and Darius: New Light on the First Royal Architects of Achaemenid Iran”
September 14, 2001

William C. Chittick
“The Evolution Psychology of Jalal al-din Rumi”
September 8, 2000

Shaul Bakhash
“Autocrats & Democrates: Authority, the State and Civil Society in Iran”
September 17, 1999

Robert Hillenbrand
“The Friday Mosque of Isfahan: Key to Islamic Architecture of Iran”
September 11, 1998

Richard N. Frye
“Continuities in the History of Iran”
May 1, 1998

Oleg Grabar
“The Subject-Matter of Persian Painting”
October 10, 1997

Annmarie Schimmel
“Death as the Gateway to Life in the Eyes of the Sufis”
May 9, 1997

Peter Chelkowski
“Harmony of Sound, Form and Color in Verse: Khamseh of Nezami”
October 4, 1996

Seyyed Hossein Nasr
“Notes on the Definition of Persian Culture”
October 6, 1995

Last Updated: 10/17/16