Why Talk to Iran?

With Iran having spurned Barack Obama’s offers of compromise, it is tempting for the US administration to end dialogue. But the stakes are too high to abandon engagement: even as new sanctions are pursued, dialogue still offers the best prospect for peacefully resolving what may be the world’s most dangerous dispute.

WASHINGTON, DC – June 12 marks the first anniversary of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election as Iran’s president. Despite the Iranian opposition’s continuing efforts to contest the outcome and advance political liberalization, Ahmadinejad and his allies have largely succeeded in consolidating their hold on power by using brute force to repress the reform movement. Hopes that a popular uprising might topple the regime have fizzled.

Meanwhile, the crisis over Iran’s nuclear program is escalating. The Iranian regime continues to defy the international community’s efforts to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons. In response, US President Barack Obama’s administration has been working through the United Nations Security Council to impose tougher economic sanctions.  Nonetheless, Iran edges toward mastering the process of enriching uranium to weapons-grade purity. The closer Iran gets to developing a nuclear weapon, the greater the likelihood that Israel, with or without US help, might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The Iranian government’s intransigence, its blatant efforts to mislead nuclear inspectors, its odious calls for the destruction of Israel, its brutal repression of political opponents – all provide good reason for Obama to slam the door shut on dialogue. With diplomacy having failed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, critics of engagement charge, it is time to resort to coercion before Iran crosses the nuclear Rubicon. A rising chorus of voices now forswears engagement with Iran’s rulers, insisting that it is time for the regime to go.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. An employee works at a chemical fiber weaving company VCG/Getty Images

    China in the Lead?

    For four decades, China has achieved unprecedented economic growth under a centralized, authoritarian political system, far outpacing growth in the Western liberal democracies. So, is Chinese President Xi Jinping right to double down on authoritarianism, and is the “China model” truly a viable rival to Western-style democratic capitalism?

  2. The assembly line at Ford Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

    Whither the Multilateral Trading System?

    The global economy today is dominated by three major players – China, the EU, and the US – with roughly equal trading volumes and limited incentive to fight for the rules-based global trading system. With cooperation unlikely, the world should prepare itself for the erosion of the World Trade Organization.

  3. Donald Trump Saul Loeb/Getty Images

    The Globalization of Our Discontent

    Globalization, which was supposed to benefit developed and developing countries alike, is now reviled almost everywhere, as the political backlash in Europe and the US has shown. The challenge is to minimize the risk that the backlash will intensify, and that starts by understanding – and avoiding – past mistakes.

  4. A general view of the Corn Market in the City of Manchester Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    A Better British Story

    Despite all of the doom and gloom over the United Kingdom's impending withdrawal from the European Union, key manufacturing indicators are at their highest levels in four years, and the mood for investment may be improving. While parts of the UK are certainly weakening economically, others may finally be overcoming longstanding challenges.

  5. UK supermarket Waring Abbott/Getty Images

    The UK’s Multilateral Trade Future

    With Brexit looming, the UK has no choice but to redesign its future trading relationships. As a major producer of sophisticated components, its long-term trade strategy should focus on gaining deep and unfettered access to integrated cross-border supply chains – and that means adopting a multilateral approach.

  6. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now