The Great Debate

Looking to diplomacy with Iran

By William H. Luers and Thomas R. Pickering
October 14, 2013

President Barack Obama has decided to test whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s “charm offensive” is a legitimate effort to reach an agreement on a more constricted and transparent Iranian nuclear program. With this decision, he embarks on the most transformative and important diplomatic initiative of his presidency.

The danger in shutting down national security

By Mieke Eoyang and Ben Freeman
October 3, 2013

The nation awoke Tuesday to find much of the federal government closed for business. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives had refused to fund essential government functions until the rest of Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to reverse a healthcare law passed three years ago and deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court. By doing so, they put reversing healthcare reform ahead of protecting the nation.

from David Rohde:

The key stumbling blocks U.S. and Iran face

By David Rohde
September 28, 2013

A historic phone call Friday between the presidents of the United States and Iran could mark the end of 34 years of enmity.

IAEA and Iran: Resolving the nuclear impasse

By Bennett Ramberg
September 25, 2013

President Hassan Rouhani generated a positive buzz yesterday with his United Nations General Assembly statements about Iran’s determination to resolve the nuclear impasse with the international community. Though he argued Tehran was not prepared to give up its enrichment program, the new president declared “nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security,” adding that his government was now committed to “time-bound and result-oriented talks to build mutual confidence and removal of mutual uncertainties with full transparency” to resolve any doubts.

For U.S.-Iran, it’s all in the timing

By Trita Parsi
September 24, 2013

Four years after President Barack Obama famously extended his hand of friendship to Iran, Tehran finally seems willing to unclench its fist. The most decisive geopolitical handshake of this decade may take place today at the United Nations.

On U.S.-Iran deal, devil is in the details

By Michael Adler
September 23, 2013

The feel-good mood engendered by promising overtures from Iran’s new president Hassan Rouhani and President Barack Obama has raised hopes for a settlement in the Iranian nuclear crisis. But the devil — especially in this case — is in the details.

from David Rohde:

Iran’s offer is genuine — and fleeting

By David Rohde
September 19, 2013

President Barack Obama’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday is not expected to generate much excitement. Battered by his uneven handling of Syria, no bold foreign policy initiatives are likely.

A potential turning point for Syria

By Mona Yacoubian
September 11, 2013

In the dizzying debate over U.S. military intervention in Syria, one key point of consensus stands out: Both the Obama administration and Congress recognize that the resolution to Syria’s conflict must come through a negotiated settlement. Key international actors share the same conclusion.

In Syria, try banks before bombs

By Sonni Efron
August 29, 2013

As President Barack Obama weighs the U.S. response to chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians, one soft power option should still be at top of his to-do list: cutting off access to the U.S. financial system to those doing business with Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Time for action on Syria

By Anja Manuel
August 23, 2013

The Syrian civil war now threatens to split the Middle East along a Sunni-Shia chasm. The horrifying news reports Wednesday about the Assad government’s possible chemical attack on civilians, if proven true, mean that the Obama administration’s “red line” has been crossed yet again.