Initiatives: Iran

Iran policy will remain at the top of the agenda in Washington for the foreseeable future.  The country’s nuclear program has created significant pressure for a military response from the U.S. and/or its allies. The regime’s suppression of internal dissent and human rights violations calls out for a strong response from abroad, even as the contours of a response that is effective and not harmful to democratic forces are challenging to discern. In addition to its status as a state sponsor of terrorism and control of vast oil and natural gas resources, Iran thrusts itself to the forefront of the policy debate through its aggressive posture towards the region – as well as its location between two countries where nearly 200,000 American forces are engaged in military operations.  Iran’s regional role becomes more important – and more uncertain – as change across the Middle East threatens the regime’s hold at home but gives it new openings abroad. In American politics, Iran also stands as an issue surrogate for a broader debate about the role of force versus diplomacy, the value and morality of engaging with one’s enemies, and the future shape of the Middle East. The frame on Iran has the potential to affect – largely for worse – the administration’s ability to make progress on a range of nuclear, strategic and other national security issues.

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