My new colleague at the New America Foundation, Flynt Leverett, has a whopper article in the New York Times today titled “The Race for Iran.”
While profiling the various oil asset positions and evolving strategies of Russia, China, and Iran, Leverett finishes with a hard critique of the Bush administration’s Iran gaming:
Against this backdrop, the Bush administration’s approach to nuclear diplomacy with Iran is strategically shallow. The decision to encourage direct talks with Tehran generated many headlines but was really only a limited tactical adjustment to forestall an embarrassing collapse in coordination with America’s key international partners.
By continuing to reject a grand bargain with Tehran, the Bush administration has done nothing to increase the chances that Iran will accept meaningful long-term restraints on its nuclear activities. It has also done nothing to ensure that the United States wins the longer-term struggle for Iran. Such a grand bargain is precisely what is required, not only to forestall Iran’s effective nuclearization in the next three to five years, but also to position the United States for continued leadership in the Middle East for the next decade and beyond.
We need to see more Dems and moderate Republicans thinking in these terms — beyond the binary, on-off, tit-for-tat switches that punctuate the Bush/Cheney swagger but make a mockery of serious strategy and undermine long term U.S. national interests.
— Steve Clemons