Gareth Porter Reviews Going to Tehran…All of It

Predictably, a number of mainstream media outlets have assigned their reviews of Going to Tehran to pro-Green (if not outright anti-Islamic Republic) polemicists.  These writers can hardly pay attention to any of our arguments and analyses save for those that deal with Iran’s 2009 presidential election and our case that the Islamic Republic is, for the majority of Iranians living in their country, a legitimate order.  In the end, reviewers of this sort don’t even really deal with our our arguments and analyses on Iranian politics, preferring simply to dismiss us as “apologists”—or, put marginally more politely, “partisans”—for the Iranian government.

We are writing our own piece on the charge of “apologetics” and what it signifies about the warped U.S. debate over American policies toward Iran and the Middle East more broadly.  In the meantime, we want to highlight Gareth Porter’s review of Going to Tehran, which was published this week by IPS, see here, and is getting picked up by other online sites (including Antiwar.com, see here, Consortium News, see here, CounterPunch, see here, and Truthout, see here).  It deals with our book in its totality—with our evaluation of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy as well as its domestic order, and with our arguments about America’s grossly counterproductive quest to dominate the Middle East as well as our analyses of Iranian strategy and politics.

With gratitude to Gareth, we append his review below:

Former Insiders Criticise Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony

Gareth Porter*

“Going to Tehran” arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations to be published thus far.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett tackle not only U.S. policy toward Iran but the broader context of Middle East policy with a systematic analytical perspective informed by personal experience, as well as very extensive documentation.

More importantly, however, their exposé required a degree of courage that may be unparalleled in the writing of former U.S. national security officials about issues on which they worked.  They have chosen not just to criticise U.S. policy toward Iran but to analyse that policy as a problem of U.S. hegemony.

Their national security state credentials are impeccable.  They both served at different times as senior coordinators dealing with Iran on the National Security Council Staff, and Hillary Mann Leverett was one of the few U.S. officials who have been authorised to negotiate with Iranian officials.

Both wrote memoranda in 2003 urging the George W. Bush administration to take the Iranian “roadmap” proposal for bilateral negotiations seriously but found policymakers either uninterested or powerless to influence the decision.  Hillary Mann Leverett even has a connection with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), having interned with that lobby group as a youth.

After leaving the U.S. government in disagreement with U.S. policy toward Iran, the Leveretts did not follow the normal pattern of settling into the jobs where they would support the broad outlines of the U.S. role in world politics in return for comfortable incomes and continued access to power.

Instead, they have chosen to take a firm stand in opposition to U.S. policy toward Iran, criticising the policy of the Barack Obama administration as far more aggressive than is generally recognised.  They went even farther, however, contesting the consensus view in Washington among policy wonks, news media and Iran human rights activists that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in June 2009 was fraudulent.

The Leveretts’ uncompromising posture toward the policymaking system and those outside the government who support U.S. policy has made them extremely unpopular in Washington foreign policy elite circles.  After talking to some of their antagonists, The New Republic even passed on the rumor that the Leveretts had become shills for oil companies and others who wanted to do business with Iran.

The problem for the establishment, however, is that they turned out to be immune to the blandishments that normally keep former officials either safely supportive or quiet on national security issues that call for heated debate.

In “Going to Tehran,” the Leveretts elaborate on the contrarian analysis they have been making on their blog (formerly “The Race for Iran” and now “Going to Tehran”).  They take to task those supporting U.S. systematic pressures on Iran for substituting wishful thinking that most Iranians long for secular democracy, and offer a hard analysis of the history of the Iranian revolution.

In an analysis of the roots of the legitimacy of the Islamic regime, they point to evidence that the single most important factor that swept the Khomeini movement into power in 1979 was “the Shah’s indifference to the religious sensibilities of Iranians.”  That point, which conflicts with just about everything that has appeared in the mass media on Iran for decades, certainly has far-reaching analytical significance.

The Leveretts’ 56-page review of the evidence regarding the legitimacy of the 2009 election emphasises polls done by U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow and World Public Opinon and Canadian-based Globe Scan and 10 surveys by the University of Tehran.  All of the polls were consistent with one another and with official election data on both a wide margin of victory by Ahmadinejad and turnout rates.

The Leveretts also point out that the leading opposition candidate, Hossein Mir Mousavi, did not produce “a single one of his 40,676 observers to claim that the count at his or her station had been incorrect, and none came forward independently.”

“Going to Tehran” has chapters analysing Iran’s “Grand Strategy” and on the role of negotiating with the United States that debunk much of which passes for expert opinion in Washington’s think tank world.  They view Iran’s nuclear programme as aimed at achieving the same status as Japan, Canada and other “threshold nuclear states” which have the capability to become nuclear powers but forego that option.

The Leveretts also point out that it is a status that is not forbidden by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty—much to the chagrin of the United States and its anti-Iran allies.

In a later chapter, they allude briefly to what is surely the best-kept secret about the Iranian nuclear programme and Iranian foreign policy:  the Iranian leadership’s calculation that the enrichment programme is the only incentive the United States has to reach a strategic accommodation with Tehran.  That one fact helps to explain most of the twists and turns in Iran’s nuclear programme and its nuclear diplomacy over the past decade.

One of the propaganda themes most popular inside the Washington beltway is that the Islamic regime in Iran cannot negotiate seriously with the United States because the survival of the regime depends on hostility toward the United States.

The Leveretts debunk that notion by detailing a series of episodes beginning with President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s effort to improve relations in 1991 and again in 1995 and Iran’s offer to cooperate against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and, more generally after 9/11, about which Hillary Mann Leverett had personal experience.

Finally, they provide the most detailed analysis available on the 2003 Iranian proposal for a “roadmap” for negotiations with the United States, which the Bush administration gave the back of its hand.

The central message of “Going to Tehran” is that the United States has been unwilling to let go of the demand for Iran’s subordination to dominant U.S. power in the region.  The Leveretts identify the decisive turning point in the U.S. “quest for dominance in the Middle East” as the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they say “liberated the United States from balance of power constraints.”

They cite the recollection of senior advisers to Secretary of State James Baker that the George H. W. Bush administration considered engagement with Iran as part of a post-Gulf War strategy but decided in the aftermath of the Soviet adversary’s disappearance that “it didn’t need to.”

Subsequent U.S. policy in the region, including what former national security adviser Bent Scowcroft called “the nutty idea” of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran, they argue, has flowed from the new incentive for Washington to maintain and enhance its dominance in the Middle East.

The authors offer a succinct analysis of the Clinton administration’s regional and Iran policies as precursors to Bush’s Iraq War and Iran regime change policy.  Their account suggests that the role of Republican neoconservatives in those policies should not be exaggerated, and that more fundamental political-institutional interests were already pushing the U.S. national security state in that direction before 2001.

They analyse the Bush administration’s flirtation with regime change and the Obama administration’s less-than-half-hearted diplomatic engagement with Iran as both motivated by a refusal to budge from a stance of maintaining the status quo of U.S.-Israeli hegemony.

Consistent with but going beyond the Leveretts’ analysis is the Bush conviction that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had shaken the Iranians, and that there was no need to make the slightest concession to the regime.  The Obama administration has apparently fallen into the same conceptual trap, believing that the United States and its allies have Iran by the throat because of its “crippling sanctions.”

Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis to argue against those policies more effectively.

*Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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The Coming Collapse of Iran Sanctions

Our latest piece, “The Coming Collapse of Iran Sanctions,” published today by Al Jazeera and Huffington Post, goes beyond challenging conventional Washington wisdom that U.S.-instigated sanctions against the Islamic Republic are “working” to argue that they are, in fact approaching collapse.  We encourage you to go online at either or both Al Jazeera and Huffington Post to leave comments, Facebook likes, etc.  We also append our piece below:

Western policymakers and commentators wrongly assume that sanctions will force Iranian concessions in nuclear talks that resume this week in Kazakhstan—or perhaps even undermine the Islamic Republic’s basic stability in advance of the next Iranian presidential election in June.  Besides exaggerating sanctions’ impact on Iranian attitudes and decision-making, this argument ignores potentially fatal flaws in the U.S.-led sanctions regime itself—flaws highlighted by ongoing developments in Europe and Asia, and that are likely to prompt the erosion, if not outright collapse of America’s sanctions policy.

Virtually since the 1979 Iranian revolution, U.S. administrations have imposed unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic.  These measures, though, have not significantly damaged Iran’s economy and have certainly not changed Iranian policies Washington doesn’t like.  Between 2006 and 2010, America got the UN Security Council to adopt six resolutions authorizing multilateral sanctions against Iran—also with limited impact, because China and Russia refused to allow any resolution to pass that would have harmed their interests in Iran.

Beyond unilateral and multilateral measures against Iran’s economy, the United States has, since 1996, threatened to impose “secondary” sanctions against third-country entities doing business with the Islamic Republic.  In recent years, Congress has dramatically expanded the range of activities subject to such sanctions, going beyond investments in Iranian oil and gas production to include simple purchases of Iranian crude and almost all financial transactions.  This year, Congress blacklisted transfers of precious metals to Iran, to make it harder for Tehran to repatriate export earnings or pay for imports in gold.  Congress has also increased the sanctions that can be imposed on offending entities, including their cut-off from the U.S. financial system.

Secondary sanctions are a legal and political house of cards.  They almost certainly violate American commitments under the World Trade Organization, which allows members to cut trade with states they deem national security threats but not to sanction other members over lawful business conducted in third countries.  If challenged on the issue in the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism, Washington would surely lose.

Consequently, U.S. administrations have been reluctant to impose secondary sanctions on non-U.S. entities transacting with Iran.  In 1998, the Clinton administration waived sanctions against a consortium of European, Russian, and Asian companies developing an Iranian gas field; over the next decade, Washington declined to make determinations whether other non-U.S. companies’ Iranian activities were sanctionable.  The Obama administration now issues blanket waivers for countries continuing to buy Iranian oil, even when it is questionable they are really reducing their purchases.

Still, legal and reputational risks posed by the threat of U.S. secondary sanctions have reduced the willingness of companies and banks in many countries to transact with Iran, with negative consequences for its oil export volumes, the value of its currency, and other dimensions of its economic life.  Last year, the European Union—which for years had condemned America’s prospective “extraterritorial” application of national trade law and warned it would go to the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism if Washington ever sanctioned European firms over Iran-related business—finally subordinated its Iran policy to American preferences, banning Iranian oil and imposing close to a comprehensive economic embargo against the Islamic Republic.

In recent weeks, however, Europe’s General Court overturned European sanctions against two of Iran’s biggest banks, ruling that the EU never substantiated its claims that the banks provided “financial services for entities procuring on behalf of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.”  The European Council has two months to respond—but removing sanctions against the banks would severely weaken Europe’s sanctions regime.  Other major players in Iran’s economy, including the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company, are now challenging their own sanctioned status.

On the other side of the world, America is on a collision course with China over sanctions.  In recent years, Beijing has tried to accommodate U.S. concerns about Iran.  It has not developed trade and investment positions there as rapidly as it might have, and has shifted some Iran-related transactional flows into renminbi to help the Obama administration avoid sanctioning Chinese banks.  (Similarly, India now pays for some Iranian oil imports in rupees.)  Whether Beijing has really lowered its aggregate imports of Iranian oil is unclear—but it clearly reduces them when the administration is deciding about six-month sanctions waivers for countries buying Iranian crude.

The administration is taking its own steps to forestall Sino-American conflict over sanctions.  Besides issuing waivers for oil imports, the one Chinese bank Washington has barred from the U.S. financial system for Iran-related transactions is a subsidiary of a Chinese energy company—a subsidiary with no business in the United States.  However, as Congress enacts additional layers of secondary sanctions, President Obama’s room to maneuver is being progressively reduced.  Therein lies the looming policy train wreck.

If, at congressional insistence, the administration later this year demands that China sharply cut Iranian oil imports and that Chinese banks stop virtually any Iran-related transactions, Beijing will say no.  If Washington retreats, the deterrent effect of secondary sanctions will erode rapidly.  Iran’s oil exports are rising again, largely from Chinese demand.  Once it becomes evident Washington won’t seriously impose secondary sanctions, growth in Iranian oil shipments to China and other non-Western economies (e.g., India, South Korea) will accelerate.  Likewise, non-Western powers are central to Iran’s quest for alternatives to U.S.-dominated mechanisms for conducting and settling international transactions—a project that will also gain momentum after Washington’s bluff is called.

Conversely, if Washington sanctions major Chinese banks and energy companies, Beijing will respond—at least by taking America to the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Mechanism (where China will win), perhaps by retaliating against U.S. companies in China.  Chinese policymakers are increasingly concerned Washington is reneging on its part of the core bargain that grounded Sino-American rapprochement in the 1970s—to accept China’s relative economic and political rise and not try to secure a hegemonic position in Asia.  Beijing is already less willing to work in the Security Council on a new (even watered-down) sanctions resolution, and more willing to resist U.S. initiatives that, in its view, challenge Chinese interests (witness China’s vetoes of three U.S.-backed resolutions on Syria).  In this context, Chinese leaders will not accept American high-handedness on Iran sanctions.  At this point, Beijing has more ways to impose costs on America for violations of international economic law that impinge on Chinese interests than Washington has levers to coerce China’s compliance.

As America’s sanctions policy unravels, President Obama will have to decide whether to stay on a path of open-ended hostility toward Iran that ultimately leads to another U.S.-initiated war in the Middle East, or develop a very different vision for America’s Middle East strategy—a vision emphasizing genuine diplomacy with Tehran, rooted in American acceptance of the Islamic Republic as a legitimate political order representing legitimate national interests and aimed at fundamentally realigning U.S.-Iranian relations.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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Washington Is On a “Collision Course” with Tehran—and with Reality—Going into Nuclear Talks


 

The latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear activities, which confirmed that the Islamic Republic is installing second-generation centrifuges—as it has been telling the Agency for some time it would do—has prompted predictable bloviation from the Obama administration and much of the mainstream media about Tehran’s provocative drive toward (at least) a nuclear weapons capability.  Commenting on Al Jazeera, (click on embedded video above or here), Hillary pointed out that

“Iran is doing what is has been doing for years, which is going forth with their program, increasing the number of centrifuges.  When I first started on this..working in the National Security Council here at the White House, Iran was spinning zero centrifuges, back in 2003 when we first started negotiating with them.  Today, they are spinning 8,000 centrifuges.  They are just continuing their march toward mastering the fuel cycle…They’ve been transparent about it.”

On the issue of transparency, Hillary underscored the importance of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA:  “That’s why we have this information about the new centrigues that they’re installing in Natanz this week, because they are obliged to disclose those to the IAEA, and the IAEA then reports them to the world.”  And for those who remain concerned about Tehran’s ultimate nuclear intentions, the  only antidote for a lack of trust is “more transparency.”

And that brings us to prospects for the P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran, set to resume in Kazakhstan next week.  As Hillary explains,

What [the Iranians] would like from the West, what they would like from the United States in particular, is a recognition that they are not inherently evil, and they have the same sovereign and treaty rights as anyone else…for nuclear energy, to pursue the entire fuel cycle.  A resolution to this problem is actually quite simple.  If the United States would recognize their right to enrich uranium, they would agree to a whole series of efforts and steps for more transparency.  That’s the core of the deal.  They’ve had that on the table for years, but the United States doesn’t agree to it because we don’t think they should even have the fuel cycle

Washington, in particular, is really on a collision course with these talks.  We are putting things on the table that cannot possibly be attractive to the IraniansOur idea is that, even though we know the’re not going to find it attractive, sanctions are going to force them to concede anyway.  This is a collision course that will really, in the end, just discredit engagement and leave us with very few options other than more coercion, and even, ultimately, war.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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U.S. Hostility Towards the Islamic Republic of Iran Only Courts Strategic Disaster—for America

In the run-up to the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Kazakhstan next week, we have published our newest article, “Time to Face the Truth About Iran,” in the February 25, 2013 issue of The Nation, which will hit newsstands in a few days.  Additionally, The Nation has published it online, see here (so far for subscribers only).  We encourage our readers to visit The Nation’s Web site and leave comments, Facebook likes, etc.,  The article is also distributed online by Agence Global, see here, and has been picked up by a number of other sites, including Middle East Online and ZNet.

The article opens by taking on America’s Iran mythology:

“For more than thirty years, American analysts and policy-makers have put forward a series of myths about the Islamic Republic:  that it is irrational, illegitimate, and vulnerable.  In doing so, pundits and politicians have consistently misled the American public and America’s allies about what policies will actually work to advance US interests in the Middle East.

The most persistent—and dangerous—of these myths is that the Islamic Republic is so despied by its own people that it is in imminent danger of overthrow.  From the start, Americans treated the Iranian Revolution of 1978-79 as a major surprise.  But the only reason it was a surprise was that official Washington refused to see the growing demand by the Iranian people for an indigenously generated political order free from US domination.  And ever since then, the Islamic Republic has defied endless predictions of its collapse or defeat.

The Islamic Republic has survived because its basic model—the integration of participatory politics and elections with the principles and institutions of Islamic governance and a commitment to foreign policy independence—is, according to polls, electoral participation rates and a range of other indicators, what a majority of Iranians living inside the country want.  They don’t want a political order grounded in Western-style secular liberalism.  They want one reflecting their cultural and religious values:  as the reformist President Mohammad Khatami put it, ‘freedom, independence and progress within the context of both religiousity and national identity.’ 

That’s what the Islamic Republic, with all its flaws, offers Iranians the chance to pursue.  Even most Iranians who want the government to evolve significantly—for example, by allowing greater cultural and social pluralism—still want it to be the Islamic Republic.

We go on from there to debunk various contemporary versions of the myth of the Islamic Republic’s illegitimacy and fragility—regarding Iran’s 2009 presidential election, the Green Movement, the impact of sanctions, and the ramifications of the Arab Awakening.  On the last point, we write that, contrary to conventional wisdom in Washington,

“[Iranian] policy-makers and analysts see the Arab Awakening as hugely positive for the Islamic Republic’s regional position.  They judge—correctly—that any Arab government that becomes more representative of its people’s beliefs, concerns and preferences will be less enthusiastic about strategic cooperation with the United States, let alone Israel, and more open to the Islamic Republic’s message of foreign policy independence

What Washington misses above all is that Tehran does not need Arab governments to be more pro-Iranian; it just needs them to be less pro-America, less pro-Israel and more independent.  Because US elites miss this critical point, they miss a breader reality as well:  that the Arab Awakening is accelerating the erosion of Washington’s strategic position in the Middle East, not Tehran’s.  Rather than deal with this, Americans continue to embrace the logic-degying proposition that the same drivers that are empowering Islamists in Arab countries will somewho transform the Islamic Republic into a secular liberal state.

But reality is what it is.  Consider the strategic balance sheet:  on the eve of 9/11, just over a decade ago, every Middle Eastern government—every single one—was either pro-American (e.g., Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf Arab monarchies, and Tunisia), in negotiations to realign toward the United States (Qaddafi’s Libya) and/or anti-Iranian (Saddam’s Iraq and the Taliban’s Afghanistan).  Today, the regional balance has turned decisively against Washington and in favor of Tehran.

This has occurred not because Iran fired a single shot, but because of elections that empowered previously marginalized populations in Afghanistan, Egypt, Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey.  In all of these places, governments have emerged that are no longer reflexively pro-American and anti-Iranian.  This is a huge boost to the Islamic Republic’s strategic position.”

On the nuclear issue, the proposition that sanctions and the Arab Awakening may somehow force Tehran to make the concessions “that the United States and Israel have long demanded” is detached from both historical and current reality:

“Unlike others in the Middle East, Iran was an early signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  And the Islamic Republic has for years been willing to negotiate with America and others about their concerns over its nuclear activities—so long as it would not have to concede internationally recognized sovereign and treaty rights…Iran continues to be interested in an agreement—perhaps one restricting its near 20 percent enrichment in return for new fuel for its research reactor and substantial sanctions relief or, preferably, a more comprehensive accord.  In this regard, the nuclear issue is quite simple:  if the United States accepts Iran’s right to enrich on its own territory under international safeguards, there could be a deal—including Tehran’s acceptance of more intrusive verification and monitoring of its nuclear activities and limits on enrichment at the near 20 percent level.

But the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, refuses to acknowledge Iran’s nuclear rights.  In the wake of Obama’s re-election, there is no evidence his administration is rethinking that approach:  senior US officials say their goal remains a suspension of Iran’s enrichment-related activities.  The administration may offer Tehran bigger material incentives for substantial nuclear concessions (as if the Iranians were donkeys to be manipulated with economic carrots and sticks).  But Washington remains unwilling to address the Islamic Republic’s sovereign rights and core security concerns, for that would mean acknowledging it as a legitimate political entity representing legitimate national interests.  As long as this is the case, there won’t be a deal.

We conclude by underscoring that

“Americans should have no illusions about the consequences of an overt, US-initiated war against the Islamic Republic…Starting a war with Iran over the nuclear issue would ratify the US image, in the Middle East and globally, as an outlaw superpower.  This prospect is even more dangerous to America’s strategic position today than it was after the invasion of Iraq.  Just a few years ago, the United States was still an unchallenged superpower.  Other countries’ views did not matter much; especially in the Middle East; Washington could usually impose its requirements on compliant governments whose foreign policies were largely unreflective of their own peoples’ opinions.

Today, as more countries with increasingly mobilized publics seek greater independence, their views on regional and international issues—as well as the views of their people—matter much more.  Therein lies the real challenge posed by the Islamic Republic, a challenge that Washington has yet to meet squarely:  How does the United States work with an Iran—or an Egypt, for the matter—acting to promote its interests as it sees them, rather than as Washington defines them?

America needs better relations with Tehran to begin improving ties with the growing number of Islamist political orders across the Middle East, which is essential to saving what’s left of the US position in the region.  It also needs Tehran’s help to contain the rising tide of jihadi terrorism in the region—a phenomenon fueled by Saudi Arabia and Washington’s other ostensible Arab allies in the Persian Gulf.  Iran is a critical player for shaping the future not only of Iraq and Afghanistan, but Syria as well.  More than ever before, American interests require rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.  Continued US hostility only courts strategic disaster.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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U.S.-Iranian Relations and the Future of International Order: A Penn State Symposium

We wrote our new book, Going to Tehran:  Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, out of a conviction that how Washington deals with Iran over the next few years will largely determine America’s standing as a great power—in the Middle East and globally—for at least the next quarter century.  More specifically, if the United States continues its counterproductive quest to dominate the Middle East by intensifying economic warfare, cyber warfare, and covert attacks against Iran and perhaps even launching another war to “disarm” yet another Middle Eastern state of weapons of mass destruction it does not have, the “blowback” against the U.S. position and U.S. interests will be disastrous.  If, on the other hand, Washington abandons its delusionally self-damaging quest to dominate the Middle East—and accepting the Islamic Republic as a legitimate entity representing legitimate national interests and “coming to terms” with it is essential in that regard—the United States will be much better able to protect its real and legitimate interests, in the region and globally.

We also believe that the course of U.S.-Iranian relations over the next few years will have enormous implications for the rules-based legal frameworks and governance mechanisms that shape international order in the 21st century.  So we are pleased that, using our book as a “launch point,” the Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs will sponsor a day-long symposium, “The U.S.-Iranian Relationship and the Future of International Order,” on Friday, February 15 see here, at Penn State’s main University Park campus in State College, PA.

Both of us will give keynotes—Flynt will open the proceedings by discussing “The Iranian Nuclear Issue, the End of the American Century, and the Future of International Order,” and Hillary will conclude by addressing “How Precipitous a Decline?  U.S.-Iranian Relations and the Transition from American Primacy.”  There will also be panels on “Iran and the Future of Nuclear Nonproliferation” and “The Iranian Case and Use of Force Doctrine as a Constraint on State Behavior” with outstanding participants, including David Andelman, Editor of the World Policy Journal; Ambassador Richard Butler, A.C.; Vice Admiral James Houck; and Professors Daniel Joyner, Tiyanjana Maluwa, and Mary Ellen O’Connell.

For anyone in or near Pennsylvania who would like to come in person, you would be most welcome.  For everyone else, a live webcast of the symposium will be available.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

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