Martin Indyk, President Obama’s former Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations (and Vice President of the Brookings Institution), is the latest to speak out against the Administration’s policy of rapprochement with Iran. Indyk, who can speak knowledgeably as a recent Administration insider (2013–14), has written a two-part essay that first lays out the Administration’s vision for the Middle East and then picks it apart. His conclusion:
[I]t is fanciful to imagine that the United States could convince Iran to shift from the region’s most threatening revisionist power and become instead a partner in establishing a new order in the Middle East. It would require the Supreme Leader to overcome his extreme paranoia about the intentions of the United States and curb the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security—the regime’s mechanisms for pursuing its regional hegemonic ambitions. Any attempt at such a condominium would earn the United States the wrath of its traditional allies, Saudi Arabia and Israel, and their supporters in the Gulf Arab states and the U.S. Congress, respectively. Feeling betrayed, they would likely go their own way, acting without regard for U.S. interests.
Many of the former Administration officials who have criticized the policy were first-term appointees. That we’re now seeing this kind of conclusion from prominent second-term officials is significant. Increasingly, it seems that critics from the left as well as the right broadly agree that we need to be more realistic, not to mention firm, in dealing with Iran.The President has been playing his Iran strategy extremely close to the vest (perhaps excessively so), and we haven’t been hearing much one way or the other about his thoughts on this. We can only hope that critics like Indyk, who are close to the Administration or have standing within it, are being heard.