The Choices Program has just published two new Teaching with the News lessons. The first is on the Iranian nuclear negotiations. The deadline for coming to a final agreement is November 24, 2014, conveniently coming after U.S. elections and during a lame duck session of Congress.

The second lesson is on the threat of ISIS in the Middle East.

There is an important connection between these two issues. The United States and Iran share an interest in rolling back the threat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It is fascinating to watch the video below of the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator,  Abbas Araghchi, as he chooses his words carefully about whether U.S. and Iranian military forces are already coordinating their efforts against ISIS. In the months after September 11, 2001, there was also substantive cooperation between the United States and Iran against the Taliban—cooperation whose end could be marked with President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech a few months later.

In both the United States and Iran, domestic political opposition to any kind of accord between these two countries remains significant. Whether cooperation against ISIS is merely tactical or  is part of  a recognition of shared security interests remains to be seen.

There is an opportunity for teachers using one or the other of these Teaching with the News lessons to explore with students the relationship between the nuclear negotiation and the international response to ISIS. These two issues are critical to both the United States and Iran. It’s a terrific way to explore how complex policy making can be. Here are a few questions to spark discussion:

  • How does being aware of both of the issues effect students’ perceptions of how to respond these two policy issues?
  • How does the relationship between these issues affect Iran? …the United States?
  • Do students see the connection between the issues as an opportunity or a complication?
  • Henry Kissinger said, “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only  interests.” How does this statement relate to this situation? Do students agree with Kissinger?