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Leverett Debates Ledeen on Iran

‘Engagement or Regime Change?’

Lee Smith
March 05, 2010
Ayatollah Khamenei, 2008.(Majid/Getty Images)
Ayatollah Khamenei, 2008.(Majid/Getty Images)

On Wednesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., a debate took place on U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran. You can listen to it here, and read a transcript here.

The central question of the evening was “Engagement or Regime Change?” In one corner: Michael Ledeen, a proponent for regime change in Tehran ever since the current regime came to power, 30 years ago. In the other: Flynt Leverett, just back from his trip to Iran, who believes we should deal with the Iranian regime there is, not the one we wish we had. I’ve written extensively (and critically) of Leverett and his wife, Hillary Mann Leverett.

You should listen to or read the whole thing, as they say. Leverett maintains that Washington should engage Tehran to advance U.S. strategic interests, but it appears that the concessions must come entirely out of our account. Why have six presidents—from Carter to Obama—failed to reach a deal with the Islamic Republic? Because we haven’t bent over far enough.

“I believe that the Iranian leadership has wanted that kind of fundamental realignment,” Leverett said, “and that they would respond positively to it.” No doubt.

Related: Grand Bargainers [Tablet Magazine]
The Immigrant [Tablet Magazine]
Iran’s Man in Washington [Tablet Magazine]