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  • Author: Michael Shank, Marwan Kabalan
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) apparently has a penchant for badness. For visiting Syria, the Speaker received a harsh reprimand by Vice President Dick Cheney who thought it “bad behavior.” Though the Speaker remained relatively un-phased by the scolding, Cheney made his point. The warning contained a deeper meaning—one that the Speaker understood immediately and that may explain why she passed on House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Lantos' (D-CA) recommendation to do the same with Iran. Take a closer look at Cheney's criticism and two questions arise. Does bad behavior connote an undermining of U.S. foreign policy, i.e. that U.S. officials should not engage in direct dialogue with adversaries? Or, does bad behavior suggest that the legislative branch should not, under any circumstances, challenge the executive branch? According to Cheney, it's the latter. In a radio appearance, the veep said, “The President is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.” But before examining the schism widening between legislative and executive branches on foreign policy issues, the former point—i.e. should the U.S. dialogue with adversaries—needs attention.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The election of the hard-line Teheran mayor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over former President Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani as the new head of Iran is undeniably a setback for those hoping to advance greater social and political freedom in that country. It should not necessarily be seen as a turn to the right by the Iranian electorate, however. The 70-year old Rafsanjani — a cleric and penultimate wheeler-dealer from the political establishment — was portrayed as the more moderate conservative. The fact that he had become a millionaire while in government was apparently seen as less important than his modest reform agenda. By contrast, the young Teheran mayor focused on the plight of the poor and cleaning up corruption.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Roger Howard
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Imagine your reaction if, during last November's presidential contest, the mullahs of Iran had suddenly launched a tirade of criticism against the American system of democracy and beamed their message onto our television sets and radios for all of us to hear: democracy in the United States, the mullahs might perhaps have claimed, is a corrupt process that is determined largely by the influence of the wealthiest donors, and a process that wholly fails to address the religious needs of a secular, materialist culture.
  • Topic: International Relations, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Iran, Middle East