Kissinger: ‘Iran Is a Natural Ally of the United States’

By Melanie Arter | October 13, 2014 | 11:49 AM EDT

FILE - In a June 11, 2013 file photo, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger gestures during a birthday reception for his 90th birthday in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, Pool)

( – Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that “Iran is a natural ally” of the U.S.

“As long as Iran is ruled by the ayatollah and bases itself on its sectarian philosophy, we have to be careful. But basically, as a country, Iran is a natural ally of the United States. It's the ideological, religious component that makes it an antagonist,” said Kissinger, who served as Secretary of State for the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford administrations.

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush called Iran, Iraq and North Korea an “axis of evil.”

“Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom,” Bush said.

“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world,” he said. “By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.”

NBC’s Tom Brokaw pointed out on “Meet the Press” that Israel is the United States’ “closest ally in the Middle East” and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “does not pass up an opportunity to declare Iran a kind of evil empire. He’s terrified about their nuclear capacity.”

Former Secretary of State James Baker suggested it was possible that Iran could become more involved in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He said Iran is opposed to what ISIS is doing.

“I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Iran was not helping us quietly deal with some of this,” said Baker, who served in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

He expressed optimism about the United States’ ability to handle ISIS, adding that the nation has come up against “greater challenges” in the past.

“I think we will find a way, hopefully, that we can relate to Russia so that Russia becomes once again a part of the community of nations. And so I’m optimistic. I think the United States of America has faced far greater challenges in the past than we face today,” said Baker.

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