How Far Could Iran Go to Meet the U.S.?

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An interview with the very smart Karim Sadjadpour:

I think the individuals who are currently running Iran believe enmity toward the United States to be an inextricable part of the Islamic Republic's identity and ideological narrative.

This doesn't mean that we shun dialogue with Iran, but we should have realistic expectations of what it will achieve. Our conflicts with Iran are not due to simple misunderstandings, but real, serious differences about the way the world ought to be. For me the utility of negotiations is not necessarily to resolve our differences with Iran, but to contain our differences and to mitigate the prospects of escalation and conflict.

I think the mathematics of a military strike make it highly inadvisable. According to best estimates it could delay Iran's nuclear progress by 2-3 years, but it would likely entrench Tehran's most radical elements for years, if not decades, to come. I think Iran's hardliners--including Khamenei--would welcome a military strike; they would use it as a pretext to crush dissent and repair the country's internal political divisions.

As one Iranian democracy activist once told me, there should be "less focus on the gun, and more focus on the bandit trying to obtain the gun." Bombing Iran will strengthen the bandit and only increase his desire to get the gun.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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