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Diplomacy With Iran Is Going Nowhere

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Though the Obama administration has offered direct, unconditional talks to the Iranian regime, Iran has failed to respond. Does America’s continued attempts to pursue diplomacy, at the expense of more forceful interventions, portray the U.S. as weak on a global stage? Or is diplomacy the best of bad options and the only legitimate way to garner international support?

The Debaters

For the motion

Liz Cheney

Attorney and Specialist in the areas of U.S. Middle East policy and reform in the Arab world

Liz served most recently as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (2005-2006). Her responsibilities included designing... Read More

Dan Senor

Founding Partner, Rosemont Capital

An expert on Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and Middle East and Persian Gulf geopolitics, security, and economics, is adjunct senior fellow... Read More

Against the motion

R. Nicholas Burns

Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs & Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

Nicholas Burns, a career foreign service officer, is Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School... Read More

Kenneth Pollack

Senior Fellow and Director of Research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution

Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, with emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other areas in the Persian Gulf.He... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • The Obama administration has privately and publically offered direct, unconditional talks to the Iranian regime and the Iranians have failed to respond: there is no active diplomacy with Iran.
  • Successful diplomacy with Iran requires both meaningful incentives and the threat of military force if diplomacy should fail; neither has been implemented by the Obama administration.
  • The Obama administration's unrequited attempts to engage in dialogue with Iran displays American weakness in the region and constitutes a failure to act on Iranian aggression.
Against The Motion
  • While U.S. diplomacy with Iran has been unsuccessful, future diplomacy to quell Iran’s nuclear ambitions will include the Russians, Chinese and the European Union and should be pursued.
  • Ending diplomacy would collapse any potential for a peaceful outcome and  would allow Iran to build a nuclear arsenal unencumbered by American interference.
  • The U.S. would not benefit from taking unilateral action against Iran and, until America’s allies are convinced that a good faith effort has been made, the U.S. should continue pursuing diplomacy.


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The Research

The Research

We Need a New Way to Deal with Iran's Nuclear Program

Francois Nicoullaud April 9
March 1, 2016

Assessing U.S. Strategic Options

Edited by James N. Miller
September 1, 2016

The Return of Weakness

Reuel Marc Gerecht April 6
March 1, 2016
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