North Korea armed to the teeth, and brandishing long range missiles with nuclear warheads, a delicate Iran peace treaty, and a humanitarian disaster in Syria, major global challenges face the new administration. Veteran diplomat Frank Wisner goes round the world with Jim, and argues that we must start on our own doorstep, and speak as one people, before we can be an influential world leader.
With Iran fighting ISIS on our side in Iraq and Syria, and a nuclear deal concluded, traditional allies in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and Israel are worried whether there has been a tectonic shift in U.S. attitudes toward Iran. Vali Nasr, Dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, tells Jim there is much work to be done to build trust, and engage Iran in new security arrangements designed to achieve stability in a war-torn, region.
For most of the past 15 years, veteran diplomat Frank Wisner has been part of a secret back channel, negotiating the Iran nuclear deal on a second tier with high-level Iranians, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. He tells Jim why the deal, despite imperfections, is in the national interest.
Obama said he wanted to “pivot” US foreign policy toward Asia, implying that we would have a lighter footprint in the Mid-East and give up one interest for another. Vali Nasr, Dean of the Nitze School at Johns Hopkins and author of the best-selling book The Dispensable Nation tells Jim that we cannot turn our backs on the region and hope to exert any influence on China, Korea or Japan.
Was it in US interests to make an interim deal with Iran even if they didn’t totally agree to stop enriching? Council on Foreign Relations President Emeritus Les Gelb tells Jim that any slowdown in Iran’s nuclear program is meaningful, and what we are giving them in return in relaxation of sanctions costs us very little.
As we embark on our first bilateral negotiations with Iran in 35 years, the question arises whether Tehran is sincere about a deal or is merely playing for time while its military arm perfects nuclear weapons. Former State Department Legal Adviser Abraham Sofaer tells Jim we must employ the same policy that worked with the former Soviet Union—engage Iran diplomatically, while we forcefully confront Iranian attempts to project power beyond their borders.
When charismatic China politician Bo Xilai stepped on too many toes during a power change, the government ousted him from his top party posts, charged his wife with murder and shut down the websites that supported him. As Israel weighs its options to throttle Iran’s nuclear threat, Israelis launch an Israel Loves Iran website to bypass their leaders and connect directly with the Iranian people. James Hoge tells of digital power in a dangerous world.
The Council on Foreign Relations President elaborates a new foreign policy doctrine he has devised for the 21st Century called “Restoration.” He explains how Restoration informs our decision whether to strike Iran, give aid to the Syrian opposition; and, above all, rebuild fiscal and economic stability at home.
Obama wants to “pivot” toward Asia. But has he forgotten Iran? Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Adviser in the Bush administration, discusses the sobering possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s nuclear plants. How would such a strike be carried out? From the air? A covert operation? Or a Stuxnet cyber attack. He tells Jim there really is a military option.
Only the eighth man to hold the post, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon struggles to make his voice count for peace in a cacophonous world. He tells of the challenges and successes of the office FDR called the “world’s moderator.”
He tells Jim how dictatorships use the Net for their own repressive ends–and why the cyber-utopians have got it all wrong.
Who will Lose the battle in Iran, Khamenei or the Internet? Iran was so terrified of Twitter, it jammed the Net for a day and named Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as co-conspirators in political trials.
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