Is Diplomacy With Iran Going Nowhere?

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney, an attorney and specialist in the areas of U.S. Middle East policy and reform in the Arab world, was among those arguing for the motion. Kevin Wick/Longview Photography hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Wick/Longview Photography
Nicholas Burns i

Nicholas Burns, who was the nation's highest-ranking career diplomat from 2005 to 2008, argued against the motion. Kevin Wick/Longview Photography hide caption

itoggle caption Kevin Wick/Longview Photography
Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns, who was the nation's highest-ranking career diplomat from 2005 to 2008, argued against the motion.

Kevin Wick/Longview Photography

The Obama administration is making an effort to reach out to Iran, but is it heading down a path to nowhere? Or is it that diplomacy with Iran has never really been given a chance to work?

A panel of experts tackled those questions in a recent Intelligence Squared U.S. debate — with two arguing for the motion "Diplomacy with Iran Is Going Nowhere," and two arguing against it.

Before the debate, the audience at The Rockefeller University in New York City — which included former Vice President Dick Cheney, whose daughter Liz was among the debaters — was divided evenly. One-third was in favor of the motion, one-third opposed and the rest undecided. But when the debate was over, the pair arguing against the proposition "Diplomacy with Iran Is Going Nowhere" had changed the most minds: 59 percent voted against the motion, while 35 percent were in favor, and 6 percent remained undecided.

John Donvan, correspondent for ABC News' Nightline, moderated the May 12 debate.

Those debating were:

FOR THE MOTION

Liz Cheney is an attorney and specialist in the areas of U.S. Middle East policy and reform in the Arab world. She served most recently as principal deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs (2005-06). Her responsibilities included designing and managing U.S. government programs to promote democracy in the Arab world.

Daniel Senor, an expert on Iraq, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and Middle East and Persian Gulf geopolitics, security and economics, is adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Senor is an analyst for Fox News and a founding partner of Rosemont Capital.

AGAINST THE MOTION

Nicholas Burns is professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard's Kennedy School. He served in the United States Foreign Service for 27 years until his retirement in 2008. He was undersecretary of state for political affairs, the nation's highest-ranking career diplomat, from 2005 to 2008. In this position, he led U.S. efforts on the Iran nuclear issue and worked with China, Russia and the European countries to negotiate the three United Nations Security Council sanctions resolutions against Iran.

Kenneth M. Pollack is an expert on Middle Eastern political-military affairs, with particular emphasis on Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the other nations of the Persian Gulf region. He is currently a senior fellow and director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution.


The Intelligence Squared U.S. series is produced in New York City by The Rosenkranz Foundation.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.