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Obama’s Losing Bet on Iran

Authors: Max Boot, Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, and Michael Doran, Roger Hertog Senior Fellow, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
January 14, 2014
New York Times


A great deal of diplomatic attention over the next few months will be focused on whether the temporary nuclear deal with Iran can be transformed into a full-blown accord. President Obama has staked the success of his foreign policy on this bold gamble. But discussion about the nuclear deal has diverted attention from an even riskier bet that Obama has placed: the idea that Iran can become a cooperative partner in regional security.

Although they won't say so publicly, Mr. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry surely dream of a "Nixon to China" masterstroke. They are quietly pursuing a strategic realignment that, they believe, will end decades of semi-open warfare between Iran and the United States and their respective allies. In our view, the Obama administration wants to see in its place a "concert" of great powers — Russia, America, the European nations and Iran — working together to stabilize the Middle East as in the 19th century, when the "Concert of Europe" worked together to stabilize that Continent.

As a first step, Mr. Kerry has made no secret of his desire to involve Iran in Syrian peace talks, scheduled to convene next week in Geneva. And much more than previous administrations, this one has refrained from countering Iranian machinations in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

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