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How to Deal with Iran: Options for Today and for the Future 12.11.06

November 27, 2006

When: Monday, December 11, 2006
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM

Where: The Cato Institute
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Speakers include: Trita Parsi, National Iranian-American Council; Raymond Tanter, Iran Policy Committee; Flynt Leverett, New America Foundation; Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato Institute; Sanam Vakil, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, USAF (Ret.), Iran Policy Committee; Lawrence Korb, Center for American Progress; and Justin Logan, Cato Institute.

Although North Korea and the ongoing Iraq operations will likely remain significant foreign policy challenges for years to come, the issue with potentially the gravest consequences for American national security is Iran's nuclear program. This half-day conference featured two panels. The first panel examined the most widely discussed options available to the United States today: either diplomacy or attempting to undermine the Iranian regime. Which policy holds the best prospect of advancing American interests? The second panel looked at the options facing the United States in the event that any proactive policy should fail: either preventive war or deterrence. Which of those undesirable policies would yield the "least bad" result for the United States?

To learn more visit the Cato web site:

Posted by coalition at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

Withdrawal from Iraq: Some Pain Now or More Pain Later

Ted Galen Carpenter ponders the meaning of an Iraq War that has now lasted longer than U.S. involvement in World War II.

This article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday, November 26, and is available in its entirety online:,CST-EDT-REF26.article

Ted Galen Carpenter is vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and the author of seven books on international affairs and the co-author of Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Occupation and Renew the War against Al Qaeda. He is also a founding member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.

Posted by coalition at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

What New Direction?

November 14, 2006

Voters sent a clear message on Iraq, explains Christopher Preble. It remains to be seen how politicians will respond.

As expected, the 2006 elections were a referendum on President Bush's Iraq policy. Leading Democrats, from Nancy Pelosi to Hillary Clinton, pointed to the election results as a mandate for change, especially a change of course in Iraq. But a change in what direction? Six of every 10 respondents in some exit polls favor a withdrawal of some or all troops from Iraq. Voter sentiment, however, will not have a major impact on U.S. policy in Iraq unless Democrats are willing to get behind an exit strategy and rally Republican support for a withdrawal plan.

In fairness, this is no simple task. Public dissatisfaction over the war in Iraq paved the way for the Democrats' return to power in Congress, but that doesn't signal a nationwide embrace of core Democratic principles.

The voters did not vote for a Democratic plan on Iraq -- there wasn't one. Democratic candidates for office did not speak with one voice on what should be done. Now leaders of the Democratic Party must scramble to fashion a consensus around a single alternative Iraq policy that can attract broad public support.

But change will not be driven solely by Democrats. The Republican Party consensus around "stay the course" collapsed weeks before voters went to the polls. GOP candidates tried to localize the elections by putting rhetorical distance between themselves and the president's policies, but the defeat of many popular Republican incumbents shows that such efforts were largely unsuccessful. Indeed, in a bitter irony, two Republicans who bucked the president in October 2002 by voting against the Iraq war -- 15-term Iowa Rep. Jim Leach and Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee -- went down in defeat.

The fate of these moderate voices will be a cautionary tale for Republicans struggling to cope with their new status as the minority party on Capitol Hill. Some Republican incumbents who survived the onslaught, as well as the handful of new Republican members who managed to win despite the anti-Iraq-war headwind, are likely to put still more distance between themselves and the president, particularly on the war issue. In short, new ideas and new energy for a change of course in Iraq can be expected to be heard from both sides of the aisle.

Congress cannot change Iraq policy, but it can shape the parameters of the debate. New committee chairs are likely to use their subpoena powers to convene hearings into the Bush administration's conduct of the war. This is long overdue. The war has not progressed as advocates predicted it would. The costs have far exceeded prewar estimates, and the prospective benefits remain speculative, at best. Most importantly, the administration has no credible military or political strategy in Iraq. Victory is a goal, not a strategy for achieving that goal. The administration must explain the costs and risks of the current U.S. mission.

But while a full public accounting is necessary, it is not sufficient. Public hearings may cast light on past mistakes, but they rarely illuminate a clear path forward. Advocates for a change of course in Iraq must fashion a broad bipartisan consensus, consistent with the wishes of the American people, that will terminate the U.S. military presence there by a date certain. Within the parameters of this consensus, we can expect to see competing proposals for how this should be done. The debate will include not simply how fast the troops should be withdrawn, but also what measures can be taken to avert the worst-case scenarios that could ensue in Iraq.

The new emphasis will be on limiting the damage to American interests and security. The new leaders must also figure out how to explain that withdrawal will be costly and messy, but that the fault for this situation lies with the administration, which defied the Powell Doctrine and invaded with underwhelming force and no exit strategy.

Withdrawal carries many risks, but after 3 1/2 years of war, with no end in sight, we are forced to choose from a set of unpalatable options. Given strong public support for a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, we can expect the debate to shift from whether we should leave to how we will leave. Before Tuesday's elections, such a dramatic change of course seemed unlikely. After the elections, "stay the course" is even more unlikely.

Christopher Preble is director of foreign-policy studies at the Cato Institute and a founding member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. He is the author of Exiting Iraq: Why the U.S. Must End the Occupation and Renew the War Against al-Qaida.

Posted by coalition at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)

Bush Is Still 'The Decider'

November 09, 2006

Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz throw some cold water on the Democrat's post-election euphoria. The U.S. Constitution grants the president a wide berth on matters of war and peace, and George Bush has two more years in office.

The article appears in the November 9, 2006, edition of the Los Angeles Times:,0,5356834.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

Charles A. Kupchan is a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. Peter L. Trubowitz is a professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

Posted by coalition at 09:17 AM | Comments (0)

A Republican Fratricide?

November 08, 2006

Nikolas Gvosdev, editor of The National Interest, ponders the ramifications of the 2006 elections on U.S. foreign policy. The debate within the GOP should prove interesting.

The article is published on The National Interest's website, The National Interest Online.

Posted by coalition at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

Fighting over Who Lost Iraq

November 07, 2006

Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich surveys the neo-cons' faux mea-culpa in the pages of the Los Angeles Times.

The article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2006, and is available in its entirety online here:,0,7517236.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

ANDREW J. BACEVICH is a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy and professor of history and international relations at Boston University. His latest book is The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War.

Posted by coalition at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

A War, or Un-War?

November 03, 2006

Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy Senior Fellow Charles Pena debates J. Peter Pham from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies on the war on terrorism.

This exchange appears on the website of The National Interest, and can be read in its entirety here:

Charles Pena is a senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University and an adjunct fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.

Posted by coalition at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

Don't Blame Maliki for America's Iraq Problems

November 01, 2006

Cato Institute foreign policy analyst Justin Logan explains who is responsible for the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq.

This article originally appeared in The Examiner (Washington, DC), and is available in its entirety online.

Justin Logan is a foreign policy analyst at the Cato Institute and a member of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy.

Posted by coalition at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)