Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The schizophrenic policy advocacy of the new Rand Research Brief

By Mark Pyruz

The Rand Research Brief "A New U.S. Policy Paradigm Toward Iran" offers the following recommendations:

The United States should consider a new approach to Iran that integrates elements of engagement and containment:

• Continue strengthening international sanctions and other financial pressures targeted on the nuclear issue, but avoid unilateral measures that are not likely to generate broad international support.

• Pursue bilateral dialogues related to areas of common interest, such as instability in Iraq and Afghanistan, narcotics trafficking, natural disaster relief, refugees, and other humanitarian crises.

• Issue unambiguous statements about U.S. interests and intentions in the region, particularly regarding Iraq.

• Engage in efforts to build a multilateral regional security framework that is simultaneously inclusive of Iran and sensitive to the needs of U.S. friends and allies in the region.

While the policy advocacy of limited cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran is encouraging, one wonders why such advocacy is not also inclusive of Iran's nuclear program, such as adopting or building upon one of Iran's numerous compromise offers such as the one outlined in the Tehran Declaration of 2010. It is plainly obvious by now that a "carrot and stick" approach will not induce the Iranians to forego their rights to nuclear technology.

With regards to U.S. interests in Iraq, the Iranians have left no doubt that they are expecting the current SOFA agreement to be observed and U.S. military forces to withdraw from the country. Six members of the U.S. military were killed by a rocket attack two days ago in Iraq, which was something of a warning shot to any continued occupation of the country. In addition, U.S. policy in other parts of the region appears to be in damage control mode in the midst of the "Arab Spring." How the U.S. is supposed to "issue unambiguous about [American] interests and intentions in the region" has been greatly complicated by such fluid and dynamic situations in the region.

Elsewhere in the brief, it is curious to see Iran's conventional and asymmetric military forces seen not as they are--as elements of deterrence--but instead as a means of power projection. For the Islamic Republic of Iran this is actually the domain of soft power, not hard power.

Overall, though, the brief could serve as the basis of a more positive approach if only the first recommendation encompassed genuine engagement and compromise on the nuclear dispute; phasing out the economic war being directed toward Iran in the form of sanctions, cooperating on construction of Iran's nuclear power infrastructure (as mandated by the NPT) and making detente or even rapprochement the ultimate goal in relations between the U.S. and the Islamic Republic of Iran.


reader said...


Unfortunately the link to the Rand report returns “No page found error 404” but based on your summary, I am astonished at the depth of ignorance shown by the authors of this policy.

Continue strengthening international sanctions and other financial pressures ..”
Pursue bilateral dialogues …”
Engage in efforts to build a multilateral ….”

I wish someone could tell these mildly retarded researchers a bit about the Iranian psyche. This is not the way we do business … You just cannot hold us by the throat and expect engagement and dialogue … Hold you right hand on your chest and bow and then hold your breath for a positive response …

Mark Pyruz said...

Reader, I fixed the link.

Anonymous said...

When will the US and her tag-along friends realize the policy of sanctions and pressure is so 19th century?

In a fast changing world where nation state's interest supersedes "groupies" states interest, it's a stupid idea for a sovereign state to tie her core interest to that of another.

Most of the European countries that obey unilateral US sanctions do so out of fear than their concern at the perceived "Iranian nuclear threat".

Even if Iran where to give up all her nuclear ambitions, the US will still find another stick to beat Iran regardless. Iran actually suspended her nuclear program and got NOTHING in return from the west. Same could be said about North Korea - only that with the later, they detonated a nuclear device.

I don't know but it seems to me the US always, with her short sightedness on strategic thinking, eventually paints herself into a corner every time regarding Iran. Iran's playing the long game here and is more than happy to see the US invest so much political and economic capital to pressure Iran only to end up with nothing concrete.

My belief, however, is that Iran is deliberately prolonging this nuclear saga to weaken the US politically as the US have already exhausted so much political and economic capital to bring the Chinese and Russians on-board. The Chinese and Russians always laugh their way to the bank every time Iran's nuclear issue is brought before the UNSC - that's where they make the killing and you can always count on the US and her friends to keep giving.

The cost/benefit analysis is really not worth it for the US. Trade between Iran, China and Russia isn't going to stop because the US says so and the Russians and Chinese won't back any UN sanctions that hurts their trade ties with Iran. The Chinese and Russians know very well Iran is not developing nukes and that the whole thing is politicized - but they play along to gain more from the west. Iran has enough conventional capabilities to level enough countries in the region.

The longer it drags on, the more people begin to see the unrealistic US approach to the nuclear issue. In the meantime, the centrifuges keep spinning.

Anonymous said...

How is this a "new" report? Its publication date is 2009. Am I missing something?

Mark Pyruz said...

Well this is embarrassing. I meant to comment on this:

Policy Choices for United States to Dissuade Iran from Developing Nuclear Weapons


It will be uploaded shortly.