Security Studies Program Seminar

The Strategic Framework for U.S. - Iranian Engagement

Hillary Mann Leverett
STRATEGA (Strategic Energy and Global Analysis)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


The focus of the talk is prospects for how U.S.-Iranian relations can change under the new administration.  A distinctive feature of the Obama campaign was his endorsement of diplomatic engagement with Iran.  In the midst of a campaign, it was courageous. 

Now, in Washington, the focus has been on tactical issues, which is short-sighted:

There is a 20 year record of diplomatic engagement with Iran that should guide any new efforts.  Between 2001 and 2003, I met with the Iranians on Afghanistan, al-Qaeda and Iraq.  To be successful, we have learned you need to deal with all major bilateral issues.  Without the right strategic framework, the engagement will fall flat.

The evolution of the American issue specific incremental approach to Iran won’t work