The Strategy on Iran and The NY Times Retracted Op-Ed

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Introduction: Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann’s Retracted Op-Ed
Iran New York Times Op-Ed Retracted

Many should know by the the issue involving White House censorship of the Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann’s New York Times Op-Ed (see image on left).

I have no issue regarding the prepublication review by the CIA’s Publication Review Board to ensure to classified information are directly or indirectly disclosed, but both Leverett and Mann claims that this was not the case.

While many bloggers have covered this issue, there appears to be a lack of discussion on what Leverett and Mann’s recommendation on Iran actual is and also a lack of this discussion from more right-moderate to conservative blogs, which I feel that StrategyUnit (at least in this current political climate) appears to be in. So here’s StrategyUnit’s attempt to address this deficiency…

Comparing Leverett-Mann’s Op-Ed with Abraham D. Sofaer’s WSJ Article

Regardless if the White House needlessly censored the Leverett-Mann Op-Ed or not, the contents of its thought and position on US foreign policy vis-a-vis Iran make for an interesting comparison to Abraham Sofaer’s WSJ article: “A Reagan Strategy: The right way to negotiate with Syria and Iran.” Sofaer is the former legal adviser to the George Shultz under Reagan.

Abraham Sofaer’s Guide on Engaging Iran/Syria based on Soviet Union

  • Regime acceptance. No talk of regime change.
  • Limited linkage. Minimal linkage on issues of human rights, regional issues etc “enabling negotiations to proceed while the U.S. responded firmly through deeds”
  • Rhetorical restraint. To help allow the Soviety “avoid being seen as capitulating to U.S. demands.”
  • Self-interest. negotiating based on “convincing the Soviets to act in their own best interests”

Leverett-Mann’s New York Times Op-Ed on Iran

Iran will only cooperate with the United States, whether in Iraq or on the nuclear issue, as part of a broader rapprochement addressing its core security concerns.

This requires extension of a United States security guarantee — effectively, an American commitment not to use force to change the borders or form of government of the Islamic Republic — bolstered by the prospect of lifting United States unilateral sanctions and normalizing bilateral relations.

While Abarham Sofaer focuses more on Syria than Iran, both Leverett-Mann’s and Sofaer make the simple point:

Diplomacy and negotiations can potentially work when both parties can compromise and address each other’s security needs and mutually convince and demonstrate the benefit of cooperation. The United States – as far as we know publicly – has not done that with either Iran or Syria.

Another question to consider is, even if the Bush Administration takes head to Sofaer, Leverett and Mann’s recommendations, does the Bush Administration have the mandate in Washington and the Middle East to do so? Or is this a sitting-duck presidency until 2008?