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Openings in an Altered World

But it is equally the case that the changed shape of the world raises hopes among Democrats for bigger foreign policy changes than anything Bush or the Republicans have contemplated.

It also strengthens the case for a major diplomatic overture to Tehran -- a serious effort to test whether the elements in the Iranian government that were rational enough to abandon the nuclear weapons project are interested in other steps that would bring their nation into a working relationship with the West.

The testing ground would be Iran's willingness to stop supplying arms to the insurgents in Iraq and instead help stabilize that neighboring country.

And that, in turn, would make it possible -- and prudent -- to reduce the American military force in Iraq, a step the Democrats have long advocated.

The opportunities in Latin America are at least as great, beginning with a trade agreement with Colombia and then, very possibly, reaching out to the people of Venezuela and Cuba, who are plainly not all that enamored of their leftist rulers.

All this -- and more -- now becomes a matter for genuine discussion, because the shape of the world has changed.

davidbroder@washpost.com


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