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Century Foundation: What Pressure on Iran Will Do the Trick?

By Ali Hosseini, National Iranian American Council (NIAC)

Image Washington, DC - According to Ambassador Thomas Pickering, "the definition of insanity in this town is to continue to do the same thing but expect a different result." Pickering joined retired Air Force Colonel Samuel Gardiner, Hillary Mann Leverett of the New America Foundation, and moderator Genevive Abdo, discuss how to reorient America's approach toward Iran as part of the Century Foundation's event yesterday titled "Escalating Pressures on Iran: What Will Do The Trick?"

Mrs. Abdo argued that three decades of sanctions, isolation and mixed signals from policymakers on Capitol Hill have failed to achieve U.S. objectives in Iran, and have "hardened Iranian stances as a result of disappointment in Tehran." Lamenting how the U.S. has tended to abandon talks as soon as they've achieved their tactical objective, Abdo argued that Tehran perceives itself as receiving the "short end of the stick" whenever it engages with Washington. There is a fundamental need for U.S. policymakers to be aware of "how Tehran thinks about us" in order to understand Iranian rhetoric and policies, Abdo argued.

Gardiner followed up on the themes brought up by Abdo, by referring to a dual U.S. policy of "seeking chaos in the hope of regime change in Iran," while publicly promoting dialogue with Tehran. With covert assistance to radical Iranian militants, including Ahvaz-based militants, PKK-linked Kurds, the Pakistan-based Jund'Allah, and theterrorist-listed Mujahideen-e-Khalq (MEK/MKO), U.S. policies greatly increase the "risk for dangerous confrontation," he said. The audience was particularly captured by an anecdote that told of how a Jund'Allah video has shown AK-47 automatic rifle clips being emptied in to the head of a kneeling Iranian soldier. Clearly, Gardiner explained, "this is not good for the United States." Yet, the retired Air Force colonel emphasized that covert action is the last tool available to the U.S. in Iran.

Pickering begged to differ, though. Insisting that there were far more options available than supporting radical elements within Iran, Pickering emphasized "when you're in a deep hole, stop digging." Rather than unilaterally abandoning the underlying 'regime change' orientation of the current U.S. approach, Pickering argued that Washington should "signal a willingness to give up 'regime change' in Iran," as one of many trust-building measures. He further pressed for the establishment of a U.S. diplomatic interests section in Iran to deal with visa issues, in conjunction with direct flights between the U.S. and Iran.

Leverett joined Pickering's call for dialogue with Tehran. Promoting the pursuit of a "Grand Bargain" as a comprehensive resolution of outstanding issues between Tehran and Washington, Leverett argued for bilateral negotiations in conjunction with multilateral forums that would include regional players and the permanent United Nations Security Council members. In this formula, Leverett and Pickering both endorsed a plan to establish a multi-national uranium enrichment facility on Iranian soil as the most feasible solution to the nuclear dispute.

... Payvand News - 10/25/08 ... --

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