This post begins a new project studying how to manage the Iranian challenge. The project will expand on an article published by Foreign Policy in Focus.
Skill, patience, consistency, logic, and understanding go a long way toward the design of an effective foreign policy. These attributes — perhaps obvious but frequently in short supply among foreign policy decision-makers — build a much firmer policy foundation than rude and emotional outbursts, erratic challenges, public bullying, contemptuous disdain, or efforts to isolate and demonize. With a new administration in place, now is the time to ask if U.S. policy toward Iraq can shift from viewing Iran as an "ultra-nationalistic, theologically conservative, politically radical, or Shi'ite" state and instead design a foreign policy based on skill, patience, consistency, logic, and understanding.
Despite the many emotional and poorly reasoned public claims to the contrary, it isn't obvious that
Aside from outright fear of "the Iranian threat," other explanations for
If such calculations have seized the imagination of
The longer the situation endures, the greater probability of someone somewhere either miscalculating and slipping into a war by mistake or being provoked by a third party, whether it's Israel maneuvering the U.S. into eliminating its main adversary or a Sunni jihadi group trying to get the U.S. bogged down in yet another Mideast war. Even if such dangers are avoided, the longer the situation continues, the more an unnecessary confrontation caused by inept politicians will become viewed as the natural and inevitable baggage of a battle to the death.
Subsequent posts will examine the nature of Iran's challenge and offer a methodological approach for thinking rigorously about how to design an effective foreign policy response.