Archive for the ‘Foreign Policy’ Category


By Ryan C. Crocker


There were high expectations after President Obama and Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, talked on the phone in late September. Those hoping for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff were excited that a breakthrough was imminent; meanwhile, some American allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, expressed deep skepticism over a potential American rapprochement with Iran.

No breakthrough was achieved when American and Iranian officials met for negotiations last month, but few observers expected one. Later this week, another round of talks is scheduled to begin in Geneva.

The window for achieving a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis is not open-ended. Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani face domestic pressures — from skeptical members of Congress in Washington and anti-American hard-liners in Tehran.

Nevertheless, despite three decades of frosty relations and although most Americans may be unaware of it, talks with Iran have succeeded in the past — and they can succeed again.

Immediately after 9/11, while serving in the State Department, I sat down with Iranian diplomats to discuss next steps in Afghanistan. Back then, we had a common enemy, the Taliban and its Al Qaeda associates, and both governments thought it was worth exploring whether we could cooperate.

The Iranians were constructive, pragmatic and focused, at one point they even produced an extremely valuable map showing the Taliban’s order of battle just before American military action began.

They were also strong proponents of taking action in Afghanistan. We met through the remaining months of 2001 in different locations, and Iranian-American agreement at the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan was central to establishing the Afghan Interim Authority, headed by Hamid Karzai, now the president of Afghanistan.

I continued to hold talks with the Iranians in Kabul when I was sent to reopen the United States Embassy there. We forged agreements on various security issues and coordinated approaches to reconstruction. And then, suddenly, it all came to an end when President George W. Bush gave his famous “Axis of Evil” speech in early 2002. The Iranian leadership concluded that in spite of their cooperation with the American war effort, the United States remained implacably hostile to the Islamic Republic.

Real cooperation effectively ceased after the speech and the costs were immediate. At the time, we were in the process of negotiating the transfer of the notorious Afghan warlord, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, from Iranian house arrest to Afghan custody and ultimately to American control. Instead, the Iranians facilitated his covert entry into Afghanistan where he remains at large, launching attacks on coalition and Afghan targets. Read more…

Ryan C. Crocker, a former United States ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, is dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A & M.

As published in on November 3, 2013 (a version of this op-ed appears in print on November 4, 2013, on page A25 of the New York edition with the headline: Talk to Iran, It Works).


Mrs.Benita Ferrero-Waldner at IE School of International Relations

Written on October 28, 2013 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Europe, Foreign Policy, Video

Mrs.Benita Ferrero-Waldner, President of the Foundation EU-LAC and Former European Commissioner for External Relations, is interviewed by Areilza, Dean of IE School of International Relations, on the European Union foreign policy and the EU-LAC relations

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The Iran Dialogues – 3

“Iran: Ideology & Nation-Building”

Madrid, Friday 25 October 2013

12:00-13:30 at IE, C/ Maria de Molina 4, Room E107

Professor Ali Ansari,

St. Andrews University

You are cordially invted to attend “Iran: Ideology & Nation-Building”, the third in a set of discussions being held in Spain as part of the Iran Dialogues Series. This session will be co-hosted by the IE School of International Relations and the Toledo International Center for Peace (CITpax).

The Islamic Republic of Iran is frequently perceived externally as being a purely ideological state.  However, concepts of nationhood, regional aspirations, and competing internal spheres of influence also affect the way in which ideology is used to shape Iran’s domestic as well as foreign policy.  Iran’s main objectives are not to be found solely in some ideological universe detached from reality, but instead are situated, and should also be understood, in terms of real politik and various sets of interests.  While the religious-ideological element is highly relevant, it is not necessarily always determining, and is not sufficient alone to explain all of Tehran’s actions.

Understanding the complex interplay of ideology, nation-building and nationalism in relation to regional and global aspirations, is particularly important in a context in which Iran is implicated in the prevailing balance of power in the Levant; has clear aims – and rivalries – in the Persian Gulf; and competes for influence in the broader region.

“Iran: Ideology & Nation-Building” is the third in a set of discussions being held in Spain as part of the Iran Dialogues Series co-organized by IE School of International Relations and CITpax.

Dr Ali Ansari is Professor of Modern History with reference to the Middle East, at St. Andrews University in Scotland. He is the founding Director of the Institute for Iranian Studies, and an Associate Fellow of Chatham House. One of his areas of specialisation is Islam and the West. He is the author of a number of books including The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran; Iran Under Ahmadinejad; and Confronting Iran: The Failure of American Foreign Policy and the Roots of Mistrust.

Please kindly confirm attendance at




IE School of International Relations in pleased to welcome former US Ambassador Alan D. Solomont, who will offer workshops on diplomacy and foreign policy to students in both the undergraduate and Master’s international relations programs. These workshops will draw on Ambassador Solomont’s vast international experience, and especially his experience as US Ambassador to Spain from 2009-2013, a time of global economic crisis and political upheaval. They will give students an inside look at the foreign policy process, and the unique challenges which arise in the day-to-day implementation of a government’s stated policy objectives. His visit is a privilege which we all look forward to!     


None of the deeper problems with American government was solved this week


Imagine you are in a taxi and the driver suddenly turns violently and speeds towards a wall, tyres screeching, only to stop at the very last moment, inches from the bricks—and cheerfully informs you that he wants to do the same to you in three months time. Would you be grateful that he has not killed you? Or would you wonder why you chose his cab in the first place?

That is the journey Congress has taken the American people on over the past few weeks (see article). The last-minute deal to raise America’s debt ceiling, avoid a default and reopen the government at least until mid-January, which was signed by the president on October 16th, is welcome only compared with the immediate alternative.

For a long time American politicians have poured scorn on their European peers for failing to deal with the euro crisis. This week Washington equalled Brussels on one measure of dysfunctionality and surpassed it by another. The way in which the Democrats and Republicans, having failed to reach any agreement, decided to “kick the can down the road”, was deeply European. The deal allows the government to stay open till January 15th and the debt ceiling to be raised until February 7th. Just as America’s economy seems to be recovering, with the promise of GDP growing by 2.7% in 2014, it could face another shutdown of the kind that has just sent consumer confidence to a nine-month low and knocked back growth in the fourth quarter by an estimated 0.6 percentage points.

The way in which the Americans have surpassed the Europeans is the unreality of their discussion. The Europeans at least talk vaguely about banking unions and other solutions to their mess. In America the immediate budget deficit—at 3.4% of GDP—is smaller than that of many European countries. Indeed the danger is of too much tightening in the short term. But the country’s long-term fiscal problem is immense: it taxes like a small-government country but spends like a big-government one. Eventually demography—and the huge tribe of retiring baby-boomers who expect pensions and health care—will bankrupt the country. By the IMF’s calculation, if America is to reduce its debt to what it regards as a sensible level by 2030, allowing for all this age-related spending, it needs a “fiscal adjustment” of 11.7% of GDP—more than any other advanced country other than Japan. Yet the Republicans refuse to discuss tax rises, without which Barack Obama and the Democrats refuse to discuss cuts to entitlements: neither of those things had anything to do with the impasse of the past few weeks. Read more…

As published in on October 19, 2013 (from the print edition).

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