For as long as the shah of Iran occupied the Peacock Throne, his relations with the United States depended on a mutually accepted falsehood. Neither side stood to gain from acknowledging that Washington’s favorite dictator owed his position to American skullduggery.
Back in 2009, during his heavily promoted Cairo speech on American relations with the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama noted, in passing, that "in the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government."
Contrary to popular myths and conspiracy theories about Washington's desire to control the Middle East, for the past six decades, U.S. policymakers have usually sought to minimize the United States' involvement there.
International forces in Afghanistan are preparing to hand over responsibility for security to Afghan soldiers and police by the end of 2014. U.S. President Barack Obama has argued that battlefield successes since 2009 have enabled this transition and that with it, "this long war will come to a responsible end."
The Bush administration wants to contain Iran by rallying the support of Sunni Arab states and now sees Iran's containment as the heart of its Middle East policy: a way to stabilize Iraq, declaw Hezbollah, and restart the Arab-Israeli peace process. But the strategy is unsound and impractical, and it will probably further destabilize an already volatile region.
The prognosis for Iraq looks bad and is getting worse. If the trend does not improve soon, the United States may have no choice but to cut its losses and get out. Recently, many have looked to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to engineer a change in strategy that might arrest this decline, and the ISG's report does indeed contain some useful ideas and worthwhile recommendations. But on the whole, it offers the political groundwork for a complete withdrawal more than it offers a sustainable solution to the conflict.
Ray Takeyh examines examples of foreign policy failures turned success, including "the shift in U.S. containment policy during the early stages of the Truman presidency; the changed U.S. approach to the Vietnam War after Richard Nixon's 1968 election; and George W. Bush's surge in Iraq."
Authors: Stephen D. Biddle, Jeffrey A. Friedman, and Jacob Shapiro International Security
Examining the decline of violence in Iraq at the end of 2007, Stephen Biddle, Jeffrey A. Friedman, and Jacob Shapiro argue, "A synergistic interaction between the surge and the [Sunni] Awakening was required for violence to drop as quickly and widely as it did: both were necessary; neither was sufficient."
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