The top dedicated Pentagon official for the Middle East, is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for this region in the International Security Affairs bureau. It is a more important position than its formal rank implies. Laura Rozen reports that it will be filled by Colin Kahl, a professor at Georgetown University and senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. In a 2007 interview, Kahl said, "One could make the case that we're at war with Iran throughout the entire Middle East, but more in a Cold War sense of backing proxies than of killing one another. ...I think it's important to talk with the Iranians for transparency purposes, so that we can vent our concerns, and they can do likewise and maybe open up some space for dialogue on a very limited, narrow range of issues that we might have agreement on. I think it may also be important simply to demonstrate that we are willing to talk to the Iranians, period, which may have a broader diplomatic benefit. I don't know that anybody looking at it as a sober assessment believes that the talks will generate kind of a magical solution to Iranian involvement, let alone help the political problems in Iraq, in part because it's not even clear that the Americans and the Iraqi government are on the same page as it relates to Iran."