Here, IranTracker provides an overview of U.S. policy towards Iran, particularly Iran's nuclear program. This background and tracking information is critical to understanding the evolution of the complex debate in Washington over policy towards Iran.
In this section
"Not talking doesn't make us look tough--it makes us look arrogant," President-elect Barack Obama declares. Throughout his campaign, he has promised renewed engagement after eight years of moribund diplomacy. Chief among his diplomatic targets is Syria, low-hanging fruit unencumbered by the political minefield that would result from engaging the Hamas-dominated Palestinian government. Obama has already dispatched once and future adviser Robert Malley to discuss his regional agenda with Syrian leaders.
The development of an Iranian nuclear program continues apace. While Iran's true intentions are a mystery, the Bush administration's posture has been inconsistent and lackluster. The administration made little serious effort to upgrade facilities in the region or rally our allies. The absence of a clear strategy to deter Iran will give that nation a free hand in the region to pursue conventional aggression and, what is worse, a nuclear attack.
As markets floundered amid the credit crunch, Iran's leadership celebrated the West's economic crisis. On October 11, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared, "The claim that the free market manages all things is a huge lie and benefits only thieves and criminals." Two days later, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei decreed that the West's financial crisis was a sign of "the ineffectiveness of liberal democracy-based policies."
On November 4, Americans will go to the polls to elect their next president. But even as rival candidates Barack Obama and John McCain spar over who can bring change at home and restore America's image abroad, on the most immediate foreign policy challenge facing the next inhabitant of the Oval Office--Iranian nuclear development--there will be no change.
Almost three decades after the Islamic Republic's founding, former Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders are infiltrating the political, economic, and cultural life of Iran. Half the members of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's cabinet are former IRGC officers, and he has appointed several IRGC officers to provincial governorships. The IRGC's rise has been deliberate.
Press and pundits applauded George Bush's decision last month to send a representative to Geneva to join a meeting with Iran's nuclear negotiator. Barack Obama, the 2008 presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said, "Now that the United States is involved, it should stay involved with the full strength of our diplomacy." Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, said the decision might be "the most welcome flip flop in diplomatic history."