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468580855_720Obama and Rouhani: Strategy, Capability, and Resolve in Nuclear Negotiations

After I served on the Reagan-Bush National Security Council staff in the 1980s, my former colleagues cooked up an approach of reaching out to the Islamic Republic of Iran. As we know from the transfer of U.S. arms to Iran in exchange for Americans held hostage by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, extending a hand to Iran failed. Capitulation was the outcome of that scheme, as more hostages were seized following receipt of American arms by Iran.

Harking back to the era when President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reached out to China to balance the Soviet Union, my former associates envisioned that extending a hand to Tehran would create an American-Iranian condominium that would bring security and peace to the Middle East. But in the aftermath of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Islamic Republic had not made a decision to be a normal nation rather than a revolutionary cause.

Two decades after this failure, political-realist President Barack Obama uses nuclear talks between the major powers and Iran to test whether it is ready to come in from the cold. With an adroit use of mostly congressionally-imposed financial and trade sanctions, Obama hoped it would be possible to turn Iran away from its revolutionary zeal and into a nation engaged economically with the West that fits within the U.S. security framework for the Middle East. If Rouhani were a realist, he might calculate as Obama would and conclude that preserving the Revolution is not as worthwhile as a prosperous economy.

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d89de0fb-47a8-473d-8314-740a9fd1533dNo Visa for a Kidnapper-Diplomat Implicated in Assassination

A kidnapper-diplomat is an oxymoron—words with contradictory meanings, In this case, the terms suggest that an ambassador has operated outside the rules of diplomacy. Now tack on evidence that he is linked to an assassination of another envoy; then surely there are grounds for his exclusion from the United States.

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487280799_720Snatching Victory from the Jaws of Defeat in Iraq’s Elections

When Iraq holds nationwide parliamentary elections on Wednesday, is it possible for Washington to secure a victory for the Iraqi people and enhance U.S. interests? The answer depends on awareness of past bipartisan mistakes, effects of those blunders, and willingness to use U.S. leverage more wisely than after prior Iraqi elections.

Ayad Allawi captured two more seats than Maliki’s faction in 2010, and yet Maliki received the mandate to form a government. Just as Washington backed Tehran’s preference for Maliki then, it is in the interests of the Iraqi and American people to align with the Kurds in support of the democratic opposition, including Allawi, now. In this way, Obama might snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

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South Korea Warns of Surprise DPRK Nuke Test

President Obama’s visit to the ROK follows reports that Pyongyang detained an American tourist. According to DPRK state media, the 24 year-old man was detained for”rash behavior” as he was trying to enter the country. CCTV’s Elaine Reyes discusses this issue with Raymond Tanter, former member of the White House National Security Council during Reagan-Bush Administration.