Thursday, March 5, 2009

Preventing a Cascade of Instability - Updated

From the Washington Institute's summary:

Preventing a Cascade of Instability: U.S. Engagement to Check Iranian Nuclear Progress is the final report of The Washington Institute's Presidential Task Force on Iranian Proliferation, Regional Security, and U.S. Policy, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission of diplomats, legislators, strategists, scholars, and experts. The task force recommends that the Obama administration act urgently to prevent Iran's nuclear progress from triggering a cascade of instability throughout the Middle East, as such a development could threaten U.S. interests in both regional security and global nonproliferation efforts. Endorsers of the report include key Obama administration officials such as Undersecretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn and Dennis Ross, the administration's point man on Iran and the Gulf.

The task force warns that, without strong U.S. leadership, countries in the Middle East may accommodate Iran, attack it, or try to match its new capabilities. The way forward, the report argues, is for Washington to engage Tehran while at the same time increasing diplomatic leverage on the Iranian leadership, including incentives. This would involve closer consultation and coordination with allies, as well as reinforced security measures and tougher international sanctions.

According to the report, now is the time for the United States to promote a policy of "resist and deter" rather than "acquiesce and deter" within the international community. Assertive action now to build U.S. leverage is more likely to prevent Iran's emergence as a military nuclear power. But time is short if diplomatic engagement is to have a chance of success and military confrontation avoided. Iran continues to produce enriched uranium, of which it already has a sufficient amount -- if processed further -- for a bomb.

The Middle East is looking for strong U.S. leadership and reenergized relationships. Vigorous steps to bolster regional defense cooperation could enhance stability and serve to check regional perceptions that U.S. influence is weakening. As part of the solution to the impasse, Washington could propose measures that would also serve to shore up the global nonproliferation system.

Available for download here.

Update: Book Review by Kaveh L. Afrasiabi available here.

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