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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: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: President George Bush gave his 2007 State of the Union address on January 23. While the speech covered many domestic issues, Bush also laid out his foreign policy approach to Iraq, Iran, terrorism, and democracy promotion. Excerpts from the president's speech are in italics; my comments follow.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Stephen Zunes
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The ongoing popular challenge to the pro-Western Lebanese government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora marks yet another setback in the Bush administration's attempt to impose a new order on the Middle East more compatible with perceived U.S. strategic interests. The success of the nonviolent people power movement against Syria's overbearing role in Lebanese politics during the spring of 2005dubbed the Cedar Revolutionwas an impressive triumph of popular democratic forces, forcing the withdrawal of Syrian forces and enabling the country to proceed with parliamentary elections without Syrian interference. However, despite claims by the Bush administration to the contrary, the electionswhich, like all Lebanese elections, took place under the country's colonially-imposed confessional representation systemdid not constitute a victory for reformers. Instead, the victors were primarily a group of corrupt pro-Western elite politicians from the same traditional political families who have ruled the country since independence. Their credibility among the Lebanese people was reduced further this summer when the United States rejected their pleas to use its considerable influence to stop Israel's brutal 35-day military assault against their country which took the lives of more than 1,000 civilians and caused billions of dollars of damage to the country's civilian infrastructure.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Michael T. Klare
  • Publication Date: 10-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: The common wisdom circulating in Washington these days is that the United States is too bogged down in Iraq to consider risky military action against Iran or—God forbid—North Korea. Policy analysts describe the U.S. military as “over-burdened” or “stretched to the limit.” The presumption is that the Pentagon is telling President Bush that it can't really undertake another major military contingency.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Iran, Asia
  • Author: Conn Hallinan
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: This is a tale about a vote, a strike, and a sleight of hand. For the past six months the United States and the European Union (EU) have led a full court press to haul Iran before the UN Security Council for violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) by supposedly concealing a nuclear weapons program. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to declare Iran in "non-compliance" with the Treaty, but deferred a decision on referral to the Security Council until Nov. 25.
  • Topic: United Nations
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Iran, Middle East, India, Asia
  • 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