Engagement, Coercion, and Iran’s Nuclear Challenge
Report of a Joint Study Group on US-Iran Policy
U.S. Iran policy has been long on the tactics and techniques of sanctions and short on a clear, coherent, strategic vision of the kind of U.S.-Iranian relationship Washington ultimately wants. Without defining that vision—and the most effective balance of incentives and punitive measures needed to get there—U.S. policy toward Iran will continue to drift toward a choice between two unpalatable outcomes: the use of military force;or policies that seek to contain and deter Iran after it has succeeded in acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
This report concludes that the administration must rebalance its dual-track approach to be effective in future relations with Iran. Seeking to charge a more promising course, the study group argues for a policy of "strategic engagement."
Strategic engagement will face many hurdles. If it does not succeed, the measures set out in this report will provide a foundation for a policy of deterrence and dissuasion. If, however, strategic engagement helps to advance a comprehensive solution to the escalation stand-off with Iran, it will be far preferable to a march toward war or to a policy directed at deterring Iran after it has succeeded in acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability.