tv Arab Center Discussion on U.S. Policy Toward Iran CSPAN August 13, 2019 6:00am-7:33am EDT
this is an hour and a half. >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. my name is kelly just shone, executive director of the arab center in washington. we will look at the prospects of u.s.-iran talks in terms of diffusing the situation. pleased that c-span is covering this event. so i would like to simply -- that is the reason i am starting on time, i know we have a few more people coming in in a difficult afternoon at the press
building, we will welcome them when they get here, but i would just like to ask for your cooperation in terms of turning your phones off to make sure the ringing does not get broadcast to the c-span audience worldwide. possibleoid as much as walking in front of the cameras it doesn't look good, for people in the middle of the conversation, kind of going back and forth across from the camera view. also, i would like to announce that for those of you who are new, at the arab center, usually our questions and answers are done in writing, every 10 we have a question, feel free to write down your name, identify yourself and write your question. when you are ready, just raise your hand and staff full collect
those and pass them onto the then yourhe panel question will be read and .ddressed if you want it addressed to a specific analyst, please indicate that. let me just say a couple of words quickly about the chairman of the panel, and then just the subject matter, then turn it over to them. i am very pleased and honored that my colleague and good friend for many years, neither one of us want to say how long has agreed to chair this panel particularly with the fact, he's a colleague with us at the arab center and a professor at georgetown, and a long-time resident and active scholar in
washington dealing with these issues, mid-list in general -- middle east in general, but particularly, the issue with u.s. policy toward iran. i would like, for those of you interested, to recommend to you the most recent work for us if you go on our website, the nterdc.org, his most recent paper on tunisia and north africa adjusting to the the president and trying to cope with the transition manner, and also a couple written before that on the subject of dealing with iran. let me just say that aside from the a nonresident fellow at the arab center, daniel bloomberg is a director of democracy and
government studies at georgetown university. he is also a senior nonresident fellow at the project on middle east democracy here in washington. he served as advisor and consultant, special advisor to the u.s. institute of piece between 2008 and 2015. he has worked in various advisory capacities to the u.s. government, including the state department, the agency for international development, focusing particularly on his specialty, human rights, issues., and governance in terms of the subject matter, aside from the questions that are raised on the invitation and the announcement, dan will be talking a bit more i about that
in a minute, it has been interesting for those of us who takinglowing the dance place between washington and tehran. back-and-forth, it is a dizzying tennis match, diplomatic tennis aspectwith a tit-for-tat to it which makes it sometimes very difficult to follow. and it is somewhat chaotic. clearly, the parties have not connected yet in terms of taking the positive reaction many of us would like to see taken to defuse it situation and prevent region, devastating the whether by intention or by mistake. the resolution witnessed in washington specifically and also on the iranian side that makes you thisr,, as my friend morning had an article, an op-ed
piece in which he said, is trump accidentally triggering reconsideration in the middle east? it is kind of funny because my wrotegue who is also here a piece of week ago which i welcome you to look up on our arabiancalled "the irania gulf must not keesleepwalk towards war." and it looks like it is sleepwalking towards war. those talk will be about two questions, is it triggering the conciliation or is it sleepwalking in the wrong direction? with that said, i would like to pass the microphone onto my friend, daniel, to proceed. >> thank you. that was a very generous introduction to the chair, i very much appreciate it.
it is true, we have been friends since graduate school, and i will not mention the year involved tha. [laughter] i am glad to be here today. i remain mystified about the u.s. foreign policy, as so many of us, and i am hoping that in addition to getting your insights, we can find some arenas where we might iffer, because the is to converge rather than diverge but we will see how that goes. said, we will be taking questions, bring them appear and i will be abusing my role as chair and from there we will look at the cards of your questions and have a good discussion. our panelists will roughly talk ten minutes. my job, along with my colleagues, is to enforce those rules, 10-12 minute vigorously so we can finish on time and
have the discussion. without further ado, i will briefly introduce the panelists in the order they will be speaking, which is the order printed on your handout. university associate at georgetown university,. kenneth katzman, congressional research service, he has been written on issues about the gulf for many years. research fellow in the iranian-american council, she is based in california, very happy to have you with us today. and my friend and colleague, barbara slavin, director and senior fellow of the future iran initiative at the islamic council. without further ado, think we will. shari.with >> thank you very much, dan.
it seems to me that the order of the speakers is that age goes before wisdom. [laughter] i havet also means that been doing this whole iran business unfortunately for it seems that 40 years. 40 arduous years arguing about this. i also think academics are like street peddlers, in terms of getting a bit more credentials for my talk, my latest book which is called arab iranian relations, dynamics of conflict and accommodation, is available everywhere. having said that, let me just start with a few points, raise a few points, then hopefully we can have discussions later on.
so, i went to say that i got two sets of instructions, one from the organizer of the panel, and the respected rom a dan.lemen, so what i have tried to do is comene those and hopefully up with something that is not entirely incoherent and has some use for pointing that. one of my earlier instructions of, how serious is the risk war in the persian gulf? iran tryinghat is the other obviously side of the conflict, what is the u.s. doing?
i can say with certainty that iran doesn't want war. whether or not the strategy that it is pursuing, including the so-called tit-for-tat escalation that was mentioned is another matter, and that could happen. sometimesally happen because of the curative effect of such actions. we have to remember history since certainly the first world war, it happened like that. germany did not have a plan to conquer europe, so they were accumulations of certain actions that eventually went out of hand and led to that. but iran doesn't want war. ayatollah khamenei, let me be clear, increasingly, the center of decision-making is .yatollah khamenei and the irgc
irgc has become the master of iran. the sanctions come of a crippling sanctions, as hillary clinton put it, have actually increased the power and especially the rule of the irgc in the economy. lead toconomic problems the potential for social tensions, the regime will have to resort to some kind of pressure, and i think this is where the irgc will become more important. fromf something comes ayatollah khamenei, we can credit that. were as with hassan rouhani, increasingly i think he has become like a bag carrier, not
even a respected bag carrier. i was much better tweeted when i used to carry the bag of the prime minister. anyway, that is something we have to keep in touch, iran doesn't want war soviet the other hand, he has also said that we don't want talks. and -- a while, honey zarif say that they don't want to talk about that up, wethe time comes will talk about that. he also said, we don't want talks. as i said, foreign minister is a presidentrif runny have said that if the americans return to the j.c.p.o.a., we will talk, but i don't think the trump administration is going to j.c.p.o.a. j.c.p.o.a. in
order to have talks with iran, unfortunately. it would be wise, but maybe some in between measures that can be think upon, but i don't that is going to happen the other thing i think i see chris and we happening is that, the issues and problems in the persian gulf are becoming much more internationalist than they have been before, in part because the trump administration, together with the policy, the more aggressive policy towards iran has also picked fights with both china and russia. ,ne thing that to me personally i am off a generation of iranians, i come from a region that has been very much pressured by russia historically, for at least 300
years, what is alarming to me is the growing closeness of iran and russia. if some rumors are to be believed, iran might allow russian bases in the country. if that happens, their dream will have become realized. as it happens with the syrian conflict, it is no longer iran versus the united states, it is becoming internationalized. iran and russia are going to have joint maneuvers towards the end of the year. we shall see what happens. i am trying to say, the more we delay some compromise with iran, the more this becomes internationalized and we will s trying to get rringthe sti
of the soup. the other question i was asked to address, what a war would mean for the region. it is quite obvious, and everybody has said, iran cannot win a conventional war in the sense of bombings and so on and so forth. but when you are fighting for your life or if you think you're going to be destroyed or obliterated, think that was the word president trump used, then you will try to do whatever you can to extend the damage. deterrent, which sword,uble-edged including the strait of hormuz, the biggest deterrent is what i call the samson option. in other words, if i go down, i will bring the temple down with me. if indeed there is a war in the region, that iranians would, with whatever means they have,
they will create as much chaos as possible. but most importantly, even if iran doesn't do anything, the very shock of the war to the global economy and so on will negatively affect everybody globally. but certainly come countries in the region are going to suffer a lot more. iran strategy in the persian gulf, downing the taking shipsne, and so on, it is to show , ifcally, and this is right you want to use the strait of hormuz, we have to use it too, and part of that is that we have living. will to have a . and with all the sanctions and so on, our living is completely disappeared. let me add, i read a very interesting analysis about the
intakes of svp, whatever, it was excellent. i never had any hope for this. , but it shows how chapter and verse, this cannot hold. aboutnot be complacent the potential damage that the war can do in the surrounding areas, it may not be limited just to the potion gulf -- to the persian gulf, it would impact iran. thank you. so yes, i think it would be to the u.s.ng, economy and also the global economy. the other thing i would like to add is that -- i think i covered the view for iran. now i will talk about the. talks.
let me first say, talks are not a panacea. one of the things i have been surprised in recent times to see his a dichotomy has been created, a false dichotomy , as if war and diplomacy the two are absolutely separate. or is a type of diplomacy, as it is said, war is diplomacy by other means. diplomacy is also conscious of power and how one can get what one wants. the question becomes, under what conditions in he talks between ben and the u.s. can productive? here comes the issue of what the united states wants, and what iran is willing to get. why don't we call it the way it
is, what is it we are complaining iran is doing, iran's nefarious regional activities? the most important problem is i think iran's attitude toward the arab-israeli conflict and its actions within the levant, whether it is support for hamas, to me, it is unacceptable talk, although it is talk about israel but does not have a right to exist politically, or in the middle east, and so on. these are the main issues. . i think there are a lot of tensions in the persian gulf that derive from that. this has always been a connection between the levant and the persian gulf. anyway, i don't want to go too much into that, this is a problem of age, too many historical memories. i think that as long as iran is
not willing to change policy, and i don't think they are yet willing to do that, it is going to be difficult to talk. the iranian regime does not show any sign that they are willing to do that. they are willing to come to an agreement with the arab states, all arab states, from egypt to even saudi arabia. recently, there have been lots of talks, maybe eve bin salman is changing, but that would mean leaving the persian gulf politics from the labonte politics. -- from the levant politics. arabs all iran might make them more accommodating to israel and so on. i think iran is just lost in this, they don't know what they
are doing. iranof the problem is that unfortunately, in an article recently argued that the iranian regime needs a new basis for its political legitimacy. i said they have to change the revolutionary framework into a framework that is basically national, not nationalist, but national, which means that iran's interest, safety should be their priority, not the -- whatever it is they are doing. but that would mean doing away with the irgc, doing away with ayatollah khamenei, and a lot of iran.clerics leading
so i will end it with this up, i my two minutes are will finish with a quote from the former commander of the irgc . he said, if you talk to america, nothing will remain of revolution. so the problem becomes that we have to find a way of trying nk persian gulf politics and eventually in time, things will work out. of thele question problem with iran has become one of pride. iran is, forgive me for using the metaphor, but iran is the rebellious -- but so far has escaped punishment.
iraq is gone syria more or less is good,, but iran has yet. so the iran elements in the -- there are elements in the united states who want iran to cry uncle. they would prefer if they do that. through talking. that is why you have 12 points. this has been a constant policy in the united states at least since 1988. 1987.d go even to it is not really a trump problem. if we think of it in terms of trump -- unfortunately, iranians are thinking in terms of trump. i keep telling them, they shouldn't expect anybody else to do anything better until and unless they change some of the domestic issues. you can't challenge a country and its interests. , you can say you are going to drive the united states out of the middle east, and hope that they will give you the lead to
do that. i think that is what you are seeing, a gradual combination of the crisis that has been going on for 40 years. i will stop here and hopefully later in questions, i might add a couple more things. thank you very much. daniel: thank you very much, mrs. hunter. hand,, for issue at them it would be the end of the revolution. obama's solution was focused on the nuclear issue and trying to break them apart, but now that policy has been jettisoned. which is the link to engage in that particular issue? n, go ahead. karin: thank you. sometimes i am in a crs capacity, sometimes i am not.
today, i am not in a crs capacity. i will be speaking in english. [laughter] host: i like that. shireen isink correct that iran doesn't want my analysis, iran is in the strongest position i have seen in many years. they have basically rescued assad from the brink of extension. his border is stronger than it has ever been. iraqi shia militias in many ways the preponderance of our in iraq. the uae has in some sense left yemen, leaving the campaign in yemen hanging by a thread. iran has backed the houthis that is very clear. iran doesn't want war, i totally at.
iran is being, than, itsby shanks oil exports are 10% of the baseline of 2.5 million barrels a day it has, been shut out of the international banking system and it is estimated that the gdp will sink about 6% or 7% this would be a severe recession, not a mild recession. it would be a severe recession. so iran is. feeling, in my estimation, extremely confident that it can make a tremendous amount of trouble for the united states if there is a conflict, and iran is going to go to the mats to try to achieve the lifting of sanctions. a succession of mediators appear to have taken their chance and struck out. there was not a tremendous amount of active mediation appearing to bear fruit.
i want to talk a little bit this puts act that countries on european who continue to countries who continue to support the j.c.p.o.a., the nuclear agreement. they feel this was a victory for european diplomacy. they saw no real incredible rationale for the u.s. to leave the accords and yes they are trying mightily to preserve it and they may succeed and they may not. i will talk a bit about what they are trying to do and what others are trying to do to keep this agreement in place and perhaps salvage the situation and maybe pull us back from the brink of conflict, which i think is the point of our meeting today, to talk about, are we on the brink of conflict, and can it be avoided? instex aentioned
european union vehicle, sort of like a border exchange. -- barter exchange. it has not yet completed a transaction and is so far limited to humanitarian affairs and issues, goods which are not sanctionable under the u.s. sanctions law. it is a vehicle whereby basically european exporters to iran will be paid by european importers, and iranian exporters will be paid by iranian -- the money stays on each side of the divide. the money doesn't go from iran to europe or europe to iran, it stays on each side of the divide, and therefore, presumably, it avoids dollar transactions, and avoid sanction
ability. that is the thesis. now, it is going to have difficulty. the europeans are considering ways to make it more effective and viable. they are considering expanding it to oil transactions, very difficult because indirect transactions, if somebody buys iranian oil, that is a transaction. whoever took the delivery of iranian oil could be subject to u.s. sanctions. difficult,e a little but it is under discussion. the other near-term option is , is if thered europeans appear to be exploring a plan where he will be pumping capital into the transaction. they will make advance payments to european exporters so they are not waiting for iran importers to pay.
it is a little hard -- i am trying to make sense of it myself, but what the europeans are doing is they are trying to pump capital into the mechanism to accelerate it. the other issue under discussion is for others outside europe to join the vehicle. china is talking about joining the vehicle, obviously, china is flush with cash. other ideas -- china still does buy iranian oil, a lot less than they were, however, you know the u.s. and china are in a very significant trade conflict now. is it beyond thought that china as a way of messaging the trump administration might try to buy more iranian oil? that certainly is on the table, i would say. they has basically said are going to continue to buy iranian oil.
there was a chinese company , i willed last week have to look up the name, they were sanctioned a few years ago for selling gasoline to iran, a minor chinese company. it was sanctioned last week for the transactions they were on. then, let me just briefly discuss another idea that is out not in aen though i am aeorist capacity today -- in today, i cannot recommend options. i can talk about them but i can't recommend anything. so the trump administration left the j.c.p.o.a. last year, after that, the e.u. announced a $20 million development grant to
iran. it is a very small amount. $40 billion orbe $50 billion a year because of oil. they would need to be staked to about 40 or $50 million, is my estimation. can the europeans simply pump cash into cash into the iranian economy, 40, 50 billion a year? tough. probably not. could china dump half of that? probably, yes. is injecting capital into the iranian economy through cash grants sanctionable? i don't see that it is. there is a sanction for countries that aids countries on the terrorism list, which iran is on the terrorism list the un's sanction would be to cut aid, to that country. china does not get u.s. aid, the
europeans do not get u.s. aid, so i don't see a way that pumping capital into the iranian economy would be sanctionable. i am not an attorney, this is my first assessment. these are ideas out there. the europeans did pump some capital i believe into the turkish economy for the refugee issue. again, i am not speaking on turkey, i don't cover turkey. my point is, there are ideas out there. and my saying they j.c.p.o.a. can be salvaged? i am not assessing that, that is not my base case right now. among the ideas being explored, yes. could these ideas potentially salvage the situation, possibly. and i think i will end there. thank you. daniel: that is really sobering. i think what it recognizes that iran's regime depends on the sale of oil.
if you can't sell oil, you have a gun put to your head essentially. if none of these arrangements work out, particularly in terms of oil sales, iran has very few options. walking away from the agreement is one option out on the table now and escalating the gulf, as a response predictable to this situation. so i think that is really very important. all right. >> i would like to thank the arab center for giving me the opportunity to platform to share with such respected people in the field. i will take a slightly different approach to what we are talking about and talk about the framing of the issue. the reason i take that approach is i think one of the things that has informed the way we have a discussion -- i believe a discussion like this is important to have, because hopefully we are trying to gain a resolution, or else this is just an exercise in us talking. gain an trying to
resolution, we have to a full understanding of where the problem comes from and stems from and how we talk about it is quite important. the framing we have seen in washington and in the media very years, when last 40 it comes to iran specifically but also the broader middle east , we have a baseline assumption bad actor and the u.s. is a good actor. when we talk about this in this useless dichotomy, we don't get the nuance of understanding, why is iran behaving this way? onlyy that they are behaving this way because they are bad actors, we have no way of getting a resolution because we assume they are irrational actors. but if you look at what is happened over the last year, what he will seize a very rational approach from the iranian side. there's also a bizarre paradox in talking about iran. on one hand we have the argument that it is so powerful, it is
controlling everything in the middle east, and yet, it is so weak that we can with one or two strikes, take them out. that paradox is again, problematic in finding a resolution. interesting thing but the paradox is it's steeped in history of orientalism. this is the exact type of orientalism discourse that has long been used talking about the docile, week,g effeminate even, and simultaneously hyper masculine, aggressive and dangerous. it is not something you to the discourse, it is something we have seen. and in the same reason that orientalism impeded our ability to have a conversation, it is still problematic in this framing as well. i talked about why i think the framing is important in trying to gain a resolution, today, what i would like to talk about is, we have two threats that are global and can threaten our species.
what is climate change and the other is nuclear weapons. what the j.c.p.o.a. did was address not climate change, but the idea that both these things cooperation.al the j.c.p.o.a. is a model for global cooperation and a model for nonproliferation. it should have been something it, rather than abandoning we should have used it as a model of how to denuclearize the entire middle east, to make sure it is used globally and tackle the problems we are going to face in the next 10, 20, 50 years. we are seeing data out of the unit of nations that talks about -- data out of the united nations that talks about food scarcity, water scarcity. these are the things we should be discussing instead of having a sideshow about iran and how ,ran is simultaneously a threat and the no threat at all because we can take them out easily. the crisis we are currently in
is based on the framing, and that is whether trump administration have an incoherent policy. they don't have a coherent framing. the other reason we have an incoherent policy is because his policy advisers are not aligned with his vision. we talked about how iran doesn't want a war, and i agree. absolutely. the violations, the small breaches that iran has gone through in the last few months are easily reversible. if iran wanted to abandon the followedy would have through with the u.s. a year ago. but they did not. trump has made it clear he doesn't want a war. unfortunately, his advisers arguably do. so incoherent policy is coming out of the fact that they have a vision but it is not aligned. , and we will get into this more when we have questions and answers, but i think there is some concern of, iran has said they don't want
any talks area at ayatollah khamenei has said he doesn't want any talks. while that mentality is potent within the hard-liners in iran, of course, iran did negotiate and talk with the u.s., we did have a nuclear agreement, so it is not an impossibility to return to that status quo, it is that we in the u.s. are not acting in a way that would make it possible. if you look at the iranian side as a rational actor, we see one year of doing nothing but complying with the deal, because they wanted to stay within the deal. this is what we call strategic patience. we want to talk about the view from tehran. i spent personally 10 years doing field research in iran during my phd program. from my understanding, as
someone who has done field research in iran, the iranians are suffering currently under sanctions and while they defensely have rightful and disagreement, and disdain even for the government they , what the united states is doing is actually helping them to unify with someone they don't necessarily like. that is what is so frustrating for iranian-americans in the diaspora to watch. to see people who are outspoken against the government now thinking, at least they are protecting us. we see things like drone strikes, tanker seizures, the assumption is iran is the aggressor, that is the problem in the not understanding why they are behaving the way we are. in fact, our drones, our tankers are close to iran. none of this is taking place anywhere close to the united states. so from their point of view,
this is something i heard from a friend in iran after the drone strike, they were happy to know that they could defend their borders. a war in iran is not a far-fetched memory. war on their soil occurred in the 1980's. a generation was defined by the war. they still remember it and still understand it. the fear of not being able to defend their borders was a very fear. now they are seeing their government having stepped up and being able to defend their borders is not something that is negative. we would never want to feel that our borders are not being protected by our government. what i am hoping it's in the rest of the conversation that we can answer more details of how we can actually move forward. but i believe that the point of origin has to be the united states, because the point of origin that put us on this path was the decision by the united states to abdicate the deal. if we want to talk to iran. negotiate a more
formal deal, we have to go back to the origin and reconcile that. the iranian side has to come back into full compliance, and then you can have a discussion about more for more. daniel: thank you very much, that was tremendous. it seems to me that whatever the ang-term framing of iran as bad actor in the u.s. is a good actor, the d.c. framing these days is that the trump administration has provoked this problem and in that sense, it's not positive. this seems to be the widespread point of view and maybe fox news does not share that point of suggests the narrative that the ending of the decision by the u.s. to exit the nuclear deal was a precipitating factor of getting us to where we are now today. barbara. sure there isnot much left for me to talk about, but let me try.
ank michaemy co-panelists. i agree with a lot of what they said. i wrote a piece the other week for the axios websites, that said basically, when it comes to iran the means has become the , end. i think that is what we have seen from the trump administration. there is disagreement within the administration about iran policy. although not as much as there was at the beginning of the trump administration when he had h.r.e like jim mattis and mcmaster actively urging the , president to stay in the nuclear deal. the president fired those advisers got new advisers who are more hawkish on iran, but there are disagreements for whether military action can be taken. john bolton is hawkish, and secretary of state mike pompeo
is more hawkish apparently than the president. but the one thing they seem to agree on is more and more sanctions. not just iran, if you have been following venezuela, now venezuela is under embargo as well. to me, it represents frustration on the part of the administration that their policy is in working. iran has not returned to the table, there are no negotiations on a new and better deal, and if you remember the 12 demands that secretary of state mike pompeo put forward little more than one iran's policies and activities are arguably much worse than they were then when the united states was still in the deal. when the u.s. was still in the deal, there were no tankers being sabotaged in the persian , tankers being seized, drones being shot down.
in thean was active region, but i would argue that it has to do more with the u.s.'s mistakes like invading iraq in opening iraq to a influence, then some sort of diabolical iranian hegemonic impulse. nefarious and malign behavior has gotten worse since the u.s. left the deal, and it makes perfect sense because iran is signaling that it will not sit there and have its economy completely choked off and have the international community pay no price. what is surprising is that iran was patient for a year until the united states decided it was going to issue no more waivers for iranian oil exports and it would try to reduce around oil exports to zero. all of this is quite predictable. sanctions, sanctions and more sanctions. last week was simply the height absurdity.
the united states, which claims it once new negotiations with iran sanctioned the one individual who would lead such negotiations, foreign minister javad zarif. not only did they sanction him, website, theyarsi put out an item that has an extremely ugly picture of the zarif. he was in a fight with hard-liners at the time, but he looks very angry and menacing. and the text in farsi zarif a pimp for the iranian government. now let me ask you, if you want to have negotiations with the iranian government, is this the way to go about it? is this designed to encourage negotiations? one of the questions we have now is whether he or even hassan rouhani will come to the security council for the meeting
in september. will the united states provide permission in time so they can make their preparations? will it impose such humiliating conditions that iran will boycott the u.n. general assembly in september? it is entirely, possible in which case in the diplomacy goes out the window. i think that u.s. policy, like many other policies undertaken by this administration is maximum noise, maximum pressure, and minimum result. things get worse, they don't get better, and we don't find solutions. as somebody who has been following iran also for 40 years, although perhaps less intimately than shireen hunter, this is very frustrating because we were in a better place as has been pointed out,. not only did we have negotiations with iran during
the period that led to the j.c.p.o.a., but we had talks with iran under almost every administration, one sort or another. sometimes they have been covert and sometimes overt, but there have been talks and efforts at de-escalation. . what we have now is a situation where there are no talks, no channels, and we are putting sanctions on the foreign minister of the country. last point, and this is a lewistion from the wa carroll that i first heard the formeriran by deputy assistant secretary of state of a run, and a former hostage of iran, one of my favorite people. it goes like this "when you don't no where you are going, any road will take you there." [laughter] daniel: thank you very much. i will lead off with a question but anybody who has a question,
please write it down on the card and my colleagues from the arab center will be collecting them and bringing them appear. one of the things barbara said about sanctions is, sanctions have two purposes. one is to force or encourage your adversary to come to the negotiating table and the other is to destroy your adversary. the purpose of sanctions is to engage in a strategy of regime change, of course, iran has no incentive to come to the table, and we're all sitting up here scratching our heads wondering what is the policy coming from the administration in that regard. here is my question on that particular score. where is trump in all of this? , buts like an odd question it is an interesting situation when you are apparently 10 or 15 minutes from an attack, a u.s. attack, we learned that our president decided that it is not
a good idea. but my sense is that the president wants to negotiate but he doesn't know how to get there particularly because he is surrounded by people who don't this is certainly agree with him. barbara andon for anybody else in the panel who would like to address this, what do we make of this -- not sure how to characterize this -- strange bifurcation in the white house? is it possible for this administration to negotiate, possible for trump to find his way towards offering negotiations and not take steps as barbara described, to completely upend any idea that we could have talks? i'm trying to look into the soul of this administration and understand what the prospects are here which is after all what were talking about. >> i will start, then we can maybe go in the opposite order down the line -- one thing we
have to stress is how much this is a domestic political issue for trump. he left the iran nuclear deal because his supporters supported that. they wanted more pressure and sanctions on iran. , the arabia wanted it emirates wanted it, the israelis wanted it end of the big donors to his campaign wanted more pressure on iran. so it is domestic politics for him, and i can see him coming back into the j.c.p.o.a., see him making concessions toward iran that would make it easier for iran to agree to a new talks. you have to put something face-saving down on the table for iran to return to the talks and not simply try to wait until 2020 elections because we should point out that all the democratic candidates with the exception of cory booker has have said pretty much bet they would return to the j.c.p.o.a. if there was a j.c.p.o.a. to return to, which gives iran an incentive to try to hunker down
and somehow stay within some aspects of the deal until 2020. .t is hard to imagine zarif, ourns on colleague robin wright wrote in the new yorker that rand paul, another one of the emissaries to the iranians, met with him when he was in new york and invited house.o the white and when zarif said he had to check with his government before he could come, and will pretty much turned down ther the reque, he was sanctioned. and according to zarif, he was threatened with sanctions if he didn't come to the oval office. these are mafia tactics. these are not the tactics of a great superpower. and again, what is in it for iran? if trump will make no concessions and they won't even restore any of the oil waivers , why should they return to talks? there is simply no rationale for
it that i can see. i don't know what the others think. >> just a couple of footnotes to this. i may be a little bit off and i would not use the word dissent because that is a bit too strong , but i think the iran-u.s. problems go beyond trump. trump is the culmination of a andess that started, frankly, on this i have to say, depending on who started what, it depends when in history you want to start. i mean, there are a lot of things it depends on the date you choose,. the first example was from iran, the hostage crisis, then khomeini's thing. of course, the sanctions started
because of hostages, then after that with the clinton administration. in my humble opinion, the united lost the best opportunities to have a comprehensive talk with iran. the best time was in 1988. i know this for a fact. i don't want to go into that. iran was very traumatized. . the iraqi troops were still in iranian territory, and they had indicated to the united states that if they got iraqi troops out of the region, they were willing to have all kinds of things. the other thing was during the third bush administration. now, there is no counterweight to the ayatollah. ayatollah come in a was nobody was nobodyh come in in the 1980's, the irgc did not have that much power. barbara has written about this,
and i like the book immensely. then in 2003, u.s. policy actually consistently has regime change without war -- has been regime change without war, except for the brief period of euphoria between afghan and iraqi war. i remember reading an article that said real men go to tehran, which was that we should have gone to tehran, and not baghdad. a number of things changed, but iran was on the hit list. so trump is the culmination of all this stuff. let me say on the other side, what is happening with khamenei and all of that; the problem i have personally, as someone who puts iran ahead of islam or any other religion, the survival of
iran and is prosperity for me is the most important. ayatollah khamenei sees himself as the leader of the islamic world. they look at iran as if it were a staging post for going after this. that is i am worried about the irgc. i think the people who consider war, either by accident or design should remember that a minority of them may actually war.an apocalyptic increasing the, with all the pressures, one thing that is very troubling to me, increasingly, people are talking about getting ready for the coming of the messiah. so we have to understand, and of course, it is ayatollah khamenei 's personality. in the same way with trump, he is very stubborn, very proud,
and i don't think he cares. he missed opportunities to deal even withmi and rouhani. it seems to me that if the united states really wants to, it falls on the united states. the other thing is that the u.s., and it started with clinton, but clinton started it without use of military force, it started on what i call a transformative policy for the middle east. you can't transform. any region completely, it is not a mechanical thing. therefore unleashed in dialectic process that we are here. me oneback, it seems to way of doing things is also to look at iran as part of this bigger middle east puzzle.
my one recommendation would be agreementreach an even without open talks on the specific issues, for example, shipping in the persian gulf. one step would the to allow the process of reconciliation between iran and the gulf arabs to go forward. for that, i think iran is ready. even if they said they have nothin no problems with saudi arabia. preconditions put for looking at the process, the end of this will be iran stopping in various areas but
if you go after your he has the clinton administration did you have to talk. that is not negotiation, that is demanding surrender. that is very difficult with any kind of party. >> i want to add to the question about trump specifically and how he fits into the picture. this is fascinating because he wanted to coin the phrase you are fired. it seems it is possible for him if he wanted to, as he has done so many times in his administration fire the people guiding his policies. he is not a policy expert. i don't think anyone is under the impression he is. he is being fed information from people he has entrusted with guiding his policies where he doesn't know what to do. at a certain point it is incumbent on him if he
genuinely doesn't want a war which is what he says to fire the people putting him on that path and bring advisors, why he argued we should remain in jcp oa. that is a simplified way of looking at it, people who have the same vision would be the path trump should take. it questions his authority on this issue. and we pulled out of that agreement. to get cohesion he needs to find people who have the same vision of him. >> the administration for what they say seems to believe the maximum pressure is weakening iran to the point where it's regional activities are
diminishing or will diminish. for barbara's group i don't see evidence of that weakening or iran has shifted their activities. iran's economy to collapse because of economic downturn. if you talk about getting iran to 0 the iraqis have 0 and did not collapse. it rationed food and goods but did not collapse. as analysts, look at whether the thesis you can we get iran to the point where it surrendered.
>> the iranian see not only does he not want another war in the middle east but wants to withdraw all us forces in the middle east. the us was completely withdrawing from syria and later backtracked on that. now he has his envoy, tried to get an agreement with the taliban so the us can withdraw troops from afghanistan. there is maximum economic pressure but the us is not eager to put boots on the ground which is another reason for iranian's to test the united states with provocative actions in the persian gulf to pressure europe, the chinese, the russians and others and essentially wait out trump. >> ken's article was highly recommended reading. it reminds us a strange idea
that if a country is having economic trouble, expected to stop defending its national interest which is a bizarre assumption. president macron proposed an initiative acting as media for the us and iran, trump tweeted to run is giving mixed signals including form macron, nobody can represent -- does that mean mediation do? what do you make of this statement? this is for ken and barbara? >> something that has just been tweeted today? stopped beating up on beto o'rourke? trump wants a photo op meeting. this is a real clear goal.
he wants to replay the tape with north korea. not that that has gone so well but maximum pressure, fire and fury and then summits with thousands of the world's press in attendance. that is what he wants with iran but the situations are so different. it is a 1-man dictatorship. and foreign-policy consensus. what is the percentage for iran, iran is a major power in the world. it doesn't need legitimization from donald trump in the same way 33-year-old north korean descendents grandson of the founder of the regime needed legitimacy by donald trump so it is not fair. the region in northeast asia
wants piece and wants north korea to be brought out as we integrate into the region and at least until recently feelings in the middle east were different. if there's a hopeful sign i agree with my co-panelist the united arab emirates is an emissary to iran, toning down the rhetoric, if the region understand donald trump is not going to save them or get rid of the hated regime they are stuck with this regime for a long time, maybe they can sit down and start to sort out their problems together. trump has -- in the region. >> playing a game of chicken and threats of us actions will bring iran to clients that doesn't do this your left having to rethink your whole approach and what they are
doing in dubai considering it will work out. it doesn't seem that the us will necessarily go to war or iran will take the bait. here is an interesting question for which i have no clear guidance, anybody who knows about this, all-american aircraft carrier battle group has been training in the arabian sea just outside the strait of hormuz, and what is the us strategy in the gulf? we haven't talked much about what is going on their and it is murky. can anyone else who wants to jump into q >> doesn't have to be in the gulf to be effective. the issue is what i look at, these deployments that have
been announced since may, several batches including deployments of fancy combat aircraft, defense weaponry, us forces back at princeton airbase, the question is are these deployments deterring iran and i would say not yet because iran is taking tankers and seizing tankers so this goes back to what i started with when i gave my talk when iran feels very confident because they feel so much trouble at this point that they are emboldened to push the envelope to get what they want and anybody that thinks the us iran war is going to stay limited to the strait of hormuz is not looking at what i am looking at or anyone in this
panel has been looking at so we need to look at this notion that any conflict with iran is limited to some sort of classic clash in the strait of hormuz. >> i will take this opportunity to throw out and iran related question, and some of us were there in 2013. they are bouncing off the walls, he was so happy. a new day they were coming back to reform and history was with them and here we are these years later and the different forces they represent, do they have a future, in a difficult situation.
strong enough foreign ministry, they had one guy that can actually interact with others. what they have to do, i was worried that his life might be in danger, what they have been doing, he has been giving up tongue lashing himself and the gestures he's been doing is unrealistic and erasing -- thinking about the foreign ministry and so forth. it is protection. does he have a future in iran? yes. and he has become a hero.
the sanctions and all these things, he had to say i promise you i would not run in 1400 iranian years. the problem is -- the united states, don't want to go too much into it. in the 1970s, from 1979-79. the united states contributes to that and the biggest strategic loss of the united states, and the extensive ripples of that, even if iran is disintegrated the ripples of that continue another 50 years or something and we have to be
careful we are talking about. where it fits, because of something like that collapses, everything will not remain the same wherever it is. the problem is we never wanted to deliver iran slowly and that, the dynamics -- the mindset of how we view these people, only understand force. that is basically -- beyond that, not to be pejorative towards everybody, the dynamics of great power behavior, one of the problems in the united
states and russia, very upset the iranian's are accepting russian imperialism but fighting americans imperialism. to me russian imperialism is worse. it is definitely worse. the point i am trying to say is this, even when it was very weak. for example he wanted to buy ships that came to america, asked the american ambassador in constantinople the us should sell ships to iran to patrol the persian gulf, the british were using anti-slavery to control what became the crucial state. dynamics of great power and regime of power. i don't want to use it in the picture but the united states
wants global hegemony. and to lie in it, i'm not saying they have a right to hegemony but iran has to realize, and expect not to be punished. this is going to happen. i have to confess, anglo-saxon, at the end of the day you have to slice things. the fundamental, anglo-saxon by contrast, if we just -- doesn't
leadership, iranian populace was happy to have jc poa. some conversations try to deny that it is an undeniable fact. if you look at the elections, 70% of the voting population voted and rouhani won by a landslide because of the jc poa. it is important not to ignore the people that are propping up these types of leaders. if he has a future he has a future because the iranian populace want the relationship with the united states. they do not want this continued consistent aggression we are seeing. i absolutely think beyond the politics he has a future because that is what the population wants. the only thing i want to add, 75-79 when the us made a mistake in iran i would push
that further and go to 1953. you have to look at the iranian perspective on this dichotomy of us iran relations as well and talking about us hegemony, we have to be cognizant that if we believe in sovereignty than any nationstate would try to fight that hegemony. >> i just want to comment, i hope nobody lost my remark that, speaking on behalf of socialist forces i spent ten years working on precisely this subject of the relationship between the leadership and iran's social political arena and how the two are linked. i want to emphasize this is not analysis that focuses exclusively on leadership as i noted. i want to return the discussion
to the last two questions which get us back to 1600 pennsylvania ave. and that is two related questions for which i'm sure none of us actually have a good answer. what strategy could help trump save face? what can be done in that regard? we have commented on that. i actually agree on the solution, why doesn't trump fire his current foreign policy advisor on iran and try somebody with his, that is the big question. we will wrap up in your response. >> if the president were to fire john bolton that would send a message to a lot of countries around the world that the us policy might be shifting but trump has had how many national security advisors,
this is number 3? it is a possibility. another one trump could do his name and envoy for negotiations with iran, and have a summit before you have negotiations, have the negotiations. the omanis hosted talk that were private before we got to bouncing off the walls when he met with kerry in new york in 2013. rand paul is a possible -- there are others. a lot of republicans who worked with iran and worked with iran successfully. jim dobbins at rand was in bond and got the agreement after the overthrow of the taliban and. working on the afghan file, the
ambassador at the united nations and iraq, he speaks dorrie which is essentially farsi, he is very capable. ryan crocker, very distinguished diplomat negotiated with iranian's in iraq and held talks with him after 9/11 that were about how to manage, in al qaeda and so on. very capable guy. jim jeffrey, our current envoy against basis in syria. also had long contact and experience with the iranian. deputy secretary of state, a man named john sullivan was a young man -- his uncle was the last us ambassador in iran before the revolution. there is no shortage of individuals. we have an envoy for north korea, i don't know that he gets to do much because trump keeps correcting them by meeting vape but you could go
back to that model, work behind-the-scenes, have a realistic agenda, and could get somewhere. it is entirely possible if trump wants to go that route. we see no indication that he does. >> anybody else? >> it is what i'm watching for. in the end occasion he wants to work on sanctions. >> marriage is one thing that can be, safe saving has to be. and, this is and everybody has to give it. iran is in a dire situation,
they did not agree to jc poa because of sanctions, it is the only reason but it was. and the partnership recommendation. asking iran, the iranian parliament ratified the additional i a d a which increased more than the current inspection in exchange for partial lifting of sanctions and he would say with this,
iran cannot produce nuclear weapons this is pushing an open door. and it is weaker, prohibits all the countries, india and pakistan, they were not bound by limitations of that. if iran -- the last thing i would like to add if i might, might not have a nice platform like this but a modern dimension to all the things, the sanctions doing to iran. it is killing the country. i'm talking about physically killing the country because of unemployment, all kinds of
other pressures, and so on. having a war might be different. then you will actually finish it rather than slow death with that is happening. don't have drugs, dying of all kinds of peculiar diseases. one thing is amazing that you get upset about human rights violations. a lot of people -- into -- powered relation this doesn't mean you have to be absolutely immoral in these matters. >> the question comes down to whether we want to live with iran or not. we have to decide the strategy.
>> on as silly as that might sound, iran is calling his bluff. he is putting more sanctions of all he can do. he maxed that out to a certain extent that is sanctioning individual people. iran, i'm not going to get into the entire history, not going to capitulate. i'm calling his brother bluff and he has to go another route or he has to real back and for someone who ran a platform criticizing, to then get into one that is likely
exponentially worse than anything we have seen so far because of the context of iran. iran and iraq are not doing that. the affordable legacy if he wields back from this, for decades. >> a war is not a policy that wins much apart from horrific implications for our president domestically. we have to recognize that and hopefully he does and see his way towards dealing with iran as opposed to sustaining the current status quo which will take us down a very dangerous path. thanks to the entire panel for this excellent discussion and look forward to seeing you another time.
[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> is a look at our live tuesday coverage on c-span. the press conference with house democrats calling on the senate to take action on gun background check legislation passed by the house. it to:30 eastern democratic presidential candidate pete t buttigieg. on c-span2 we hear from the defense undersecretary for research and engineering on what the pentagon is doing in the areas of 5g, missile defense and other technology.
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