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January 20 2014

07:10

More Iran Sanctions: Leverage, Or ‘A Path To War’?

As a new nuclear deal goes into effect with Iran, a growing number of US Senators call for still tougher sanctions. The White House says that’s the path to war.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, arrives at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, center, arrives at the 27th International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. (AP)

Guests

Robin Wright, journalist and author, distinguished scholar at the United States Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center. Author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World,” “The Iran Primer: Power Politics and U.S. Policy” and “The Islamists are Coming: Who They Really Are.” (@wrightr)

Peter Beinart, contributing editor at The Atlantic and The National Journal. Associate professor of journalism and political science at the City University of New York. Author of “The Crisis Of Zionism,” “The Good Fight: Why Liberals — And Only Liberals — Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again” and “The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris.” (@PeterBeinart)

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Co-chair of the project on U.S. Middle east Non-Proliferation Strategy. Co-author of nine studies on economic sanctions against Iran. (@dubo1968)

From Tom’s Reading List

TIME: A New Beginning In Tehran — “Since President Hassan Rouhani’s upset victory in last summer’s election, Iran has been consumed with a strategic recalibration. The signing of the short-term nuclear deal in November, which diplomats will spend the next six months trying to turn into an enduring pact, generated tangible change in Iran’s relations with the world. And among ordinary Iranians, it’s no longer off-limits to talk openly about eventual reconciliation with a country long known as the Great Satan.”

Haaretz: U.S. Senate sanctions bill is all about torpedoing a nuclear deal with Iran — “Even if a reasonable time frame were specified, there’s a bigger problem. By insisting that Obama certify an end to Iranian missile tests and support for terrorism, Menendez and company are insisting that a final deal cover subjects it was never meant to cover. The interim agreement makes clear that the sole goal of current negotiations is to “ensure [that] Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful.”

Wall Street Journal: A Bad Agreement Likely to Get Worse — “In the absence of verifiable Iranian commitments not to proceed with nuclear-weapon and ballistic-missile research, there is nothing to stop Iran from having a designed bomb and ballistic missile ready to go. Once Iran completes a dash to weapons-grade uranium, it can insert the warhead and quickly have a deliverable nuclear weapon.”

November 25 2013

10:25

‘Historic’ Deal Reached In Iranian Nuclear Talks

Historic nuclear dealer reached with Iran. There are vast implications. We’ll have world-wide reaction.

Guests

Laurence Norman, deputy Brussels bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. (@laurnorman)

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of the Middle East Studies Program at Syracuse University, president of the International Society of Iranian Studies.

David IgnatiusWashington Post columnist covering foreign affairs. Author of “Bloodmoney.” (@IgnatiusPost)

Emily Landau, senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, director of the INSS’ Arms Control and Regional Security Project. Author of “Arms Control in the Middle East: Cooperative Security Dialogue and Regional Constraints

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Major Powers Reach Deal With Iran To Freeze Nuclear Program –”Iran will gain relief from Western economic sanctions that U.S. officials believe will provide between $6 billion and $7 billion in badly needed foreign exchange for Tehran over the next half-year. The agreement reached in Geneva is an interim deal for about six months that will allow international powers to try to strike a permanent pact, an effort experts said would be the true test of Iran’s new government, headed by revitalization-minded President Hasan Rouhani.”

Washington Post: Backstage brawl over a deal – “As the Iran deal has taken shape, a backstage brawl is developing with Israel and Saudi Arabia, two countries crucially affected by the deal. The unrelenting attacks on the agreement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which are the culmination of four years of mistrust between him and President Obama, are rumbling the bedrock of the U.S.-Israeli relationship — a consequence neither country wants.”

The Economist: Modest, but still historic –”The deal struck this weekend is not yet even the beginning of the end of the danger to the world posed by the possible (actually probable) military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear activities. It is a modest first step and there is still an awful lot that could go wrong: in particular, there are irreconcilables on all sides who might prefer that it did. Nor can Iran ever be fully defanged unless and until its leaders believe that it is in their best interests for that to happen—and that is still a long way off. But compared with the situation just a few months ago, what happened in Geneva is extraordinary and does properly deserve to be described as ‘historic.’”

November 15 2013

15:00

Week In The News: Typhoon Recovery, Obamacare Reversal, Iranian Stalemate

Typhoon tragedy.  Obamacare reversal. New guidelines for statins. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Big news on health reform this week.  President Obama stands down on a hot portion of Obamacare.  The “you can keep your coverage” promise will be kept, for a while.  It’s a reversal.  And knives are out for more.  In the Philippines, an epic typhoon leaves devastation so deep that relief is hard to deliver, even when it comes.  Now it’s hunger and thirst.  We’ve got Janet Yellen lining up to be Fed chief.  John Boehner saying no to big immigration reform.  Heat over nuclear talks with Iran.  A giant airline merger.  And Amazon does a Sunday deal with the US Mail.  Up next On Point:  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Margaret Talev, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News. (@margarettalev)

Ben Pauker, managing editor at Foreign Policy. (@BenPauker)

Jack Beatty, On Point News Analyst

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: Obama Needs His Friends Back — “On Tuesday, a Quinnipiac University poll showed Obama with the lowest approval rating of his presidency. Only 39 percent approved of his performance; 54 percent disapproved. The numbers echoed those of a recent Pew survey that pegged the president’s job approval at 41 percent, with 53 percent disapproving. In situations of this sort, there is always a search for an instant repair. ‘Fix the Web site’ is the most obvious, and it’s certainly necessary. But a tech problem has been compounded by the reality of health-care reform itself. ”

Wall Street Journal: Escape From Obamacare — “The particular irony of this Democratic flight for the exits is that their bill would make ObamaCare even less viable. If people are allowed to choose a competitive insurance alternative, the exchanges are unlikely to survive financially. That’s why the White House is trying to stuff in as many people as possible, however unsuccessfully. House Republicans have the better argument. There’s a substantive difference between letting people keep their plans through deregulation and through a new mandate that is supposed to counteract the damage from the old mandates. They should build on this insight and promote more ways for people to elude ObamaCare if they prefer.”

Foreign Policy: John Kerry’s Iran Briefing Succeeds…In Solidifying GOP Against Him — “In an effort to slam the brakes on a new round of Iran sanctions coming through Congress, Secretary of State John Kerry held a classified briefing with the Senate Banking Committee on Wednesday. Although the purpose of the briefing was to convey how new sanctions could derail the delicate negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, Republicans stormed out of the closed-door session in opposition to the Obama administration’s message. At the same time, top Democrats remained silent or refused to comment as they exited the Capitol.”

November 14 2013

05:36

Iranian Peace Talks Stay Stuck

The US and Israel are split over negotiations with nuclear Iran. We’ll look at the arguments, and the stakes.

Guests

Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent at National Journal. (@MichaelPHirsh)

Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Co-chair of the Project on U.S. Middle East Nonproliferation Strategy. (@dubo1968)

Suzanne Maloney, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institute’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy. (@MaloneySuzanne)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: The Case for Stronger Sanctions on Iran — “The Geneva negotiations indicate that Mr. Rouhani’s bosses are willing only to make concessions that are easily revoked or not much of a nuclear impediment to start with. The U.S. and its allies seem much more likely to get the attention of the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guards if the pain from sanctions is so intense that a choice has to be made between economic collapse and the nuclear program.”

CNN: Bad Iran deal worse than no deal — “The problem is that the Iranian leadership does not operate by Western standards. Seldom does the Iranian government place the wellbeing of its population above its own revolutionary ideology. The Supreme Leader considers himself the Deputy of the Messiah on Earth. Sovereignty comes from God; what the Iranian people may think is beside the point.”

Haaretz: Netanyahu’s rage at Iran nuclear deal is fueled by 1938 Western betrayal at Munich — “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, cannot accept any agreement that Iran has agreed to. Conversely, the only nuclear accord that Israel can live with is one that Tehran can’t. Actually, nothing short of complete and utter dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure can convince Israel that the mullahs in Tehran have changed their ways. That Iran has given up its quest for nuclear weapons. That Tehran is no longer pursuing a bomb with which to achieve regional hegemony and to threaten Israel with extinction.”

October 28 2013

13:17

Saudi Arabia, Iran And A Region In Flux

Saudi Arabia, Iran , and the new geo-political calculus of the Middle East, with America awkwardly in the middle.

Ever since FDR famously sailed into the Suez Canal to meet with Saudi King Ibn Saud in 1945 on the American destroyer the USS Quincy, the United States and Saudi Arabia have been deep strategic partners in the Middle East.  Plenty of stresses, as the US allied with Israel and the Saudis flexed their massive oil power and exported Wahabi Islam.  But the Saudi monarchy had also been an American bedrock in the region.  Now the talk is of potential crackup in the partnership.  That’s big.  Up next On Point:  Saudi fury as the US charts a new course in the Middle East.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Stephen Kinzer, professor on International Relations at Boston University and a former New York Times correspondent. Author of “The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles and Their Secret World War” and “Reset: Iran, Turkey and America’s Future.” (@StephenKinzer)

Dr. Abel Aziz Aluwaisheg, Assistant Secretary General for Negotiations and Strategic Dialogue at the Gulf Cooperation Council. (@abuhamad1)

Dan Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, columnist at Foreign Policy Magazine and senior editor at The National Interest. (@DanDrezner)

From Tom’s Reading List

Arab News: Saudi move highlights need for UN Security Council reforms — “The timing of the Saudi decision on Friday appeared to be related in particular to the failure of the UNSC to stop the carnage perpetrated by the Syria regime. Over the past 30 months, the Syrian regime has killed over (100,000) of its own people, while forcing seven million Syrians to be either refugees outside their country, or displaced inside it. UN human rights agencies and special commissions have documented crimes committed by the Syria regime, including mass killings, torture, rape, collective punishment and wholesale destruction of towns and neighborhoods. They have also named key officials who are believed to be behind crimes against humanity committed in Syria.”

Foreign Policy: On Syria, You Say Bureaucratic Politics, I Say Realism — Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off – “Clearly, a lack of consensus among Obama’s top foreign policymakers buttressed his own stated reluctance to get too deeply involved in Syria.  That said, the policymakers with the most influence over the president were articulating a rationale for why continued conflict might not be a bad thing.”

The Guardian: New President Hassan Rouhani make the unimaginable imaginable for Iran — “Finding a way to bring Iran back into the world’s mainstream will be Rouhani’s principal challenge. His power is limited, though in the fluid world of Iranian politics, he is likely to accumulate more. His adversaries, most notably supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and the United States, ridicule him as a puppet of repressive mullahs.”

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