Former U.S. Officials Urge Obama to Rethink Iran Policy

By:  Jack Kenny
Former U.S. Officials Urge Obama to Rethink Iran Policy

A panel of former U.S. government officials and outside experts has concluded that economic sanctions against Iran may be backfiring.


The report, released April 17, urges President Obama to reconsider penalties that have created economic havoc for the Iranian people, leading to a devalued currency and soaring inflation, but have failed to slow the progress of the government's nuclear program. Rather, the sanctions have "contributed to an increase in repression and corruption within Iran" and "may be sowing the seeds of long-term alienation between the Iranian people and the United States," according to the report issued by the Iran Project.

The panel includes a number of former top-level officials from various branches of the U.S. government, including Thomas R. Pickering, a former high-ranking career diplomat with the State Department, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat from Indiana who chaired both the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees and is currently a member of the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council. Others include former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Richard Lugar, a Republican from Indiana, Ryan Crocker, former ambassador to both Iraq and Afghanistan and Anne-Marie Slaughter, director of policy planning in Obama's first term.

"I fundamentally believe that the balance between sanctions and diplomacy has been misaligned," Pickering said in an interview with the New York Times. Though the report made no mention of the cyberwar that the U.S. has been waging against Iran in an effort to disrupt its nuclear program, Pickering told the Times it is one of the things the president should review in an effort to "stop anything that is peripheral, that is not buying us much time" in slowing or deterring Iran. The United States has continued its cyberwar against Iran despite a Pentagon warning that computer sabotage by another country against the United States may be taken as an act of war.

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