Iran: Time for a New Approach

Task Force Report
Analysis and policy prescriptions of major foreign policy issues facing the United States, developed through private deliberations among a diverse and distinguished group of experts.

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have positioned American troops along Iran’s borders, making the United States and Iran wary competitors and neighbors who nonetheless possess overlapping interests. Meanwhile, questions continue to be raised about Iran’s nuclear program and its involvement with terrorism. Clearly, contending with Iran will constitute one of the most complex and pressing challenges facing future U.S. administrations. This informative report, which sparked sharp debate in Washington and extensive coverage by U.S. and international media, offers a timely new approach.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Counselor and Trustee, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Suzanne Maloney

Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution

Rejecting the conventional wisdom that Iran is on the verge of another revolution, the report calls for the United States to reassess its long-standing policy of non-engagement with the current Iranian government. The product of an independent Task Force chaired by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, director of central intelligence during the George H.W. Bush administration, the report highlights several areas in which U.S. interests would be better served by selective engagement with Tehran, and breaks with current U.S. policy by encouraging a new strategy.

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Diplomacy and International Institutions

This report focuses on developments inside Iran, tapping into the Task Force members’ extensive expertise on Iranian politics and society. It includes a comprehensive chronology of important dates in U.S.-Iranian history, economic and demographic facts about Iran, and reference materials on Iranian state institutions and governance.

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Diplomacy and International Institutions

Task Force Members

Task Force Members

PETER ACKERMAN is Managing Director of Rockport Capital and Chairman of the Board Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He is the coauthor of A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict and Executive Producer of "Bringing Down a Dictator," the Peabody Award-winning documentary on the fall of Slobodan Milosevic.

DAVID ALBRIGHT is President and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security. He is a physicist who specializes in nuclear nonproliferation. For over a decade he has assessed and published widely on Iran's secret nuclear efforts. In the 1990s, he worked with the IAEA Action Team mandated by the UN Security Council to dismantle and monitor against any reconstitution of Iraq's nuclear weapons programs.

SHAUL BAKASH is Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History at George Mason University. He is the author of Iran: Monarchy, Bureaucracy and Reform under the Oajars, 1858-1896, The Politics of Oil and Revolution in Iran, and Reign of the Ayatollahs: Iran and the Islamic Revolution. His articles have appeared in the New York Review of Books, the New Republic, Foreign Policy, the Journal of Democracy, and in scholarly books and journals. He has written opinion pieces for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and other newspapers. He worked for many years as a journalist in Iran, writing for the Tehran-based Kayhan Newspapers as well as for the London Times, the Financial Times, and the Economist. Before coming to George Mason University in 1985, he taught at Princeton University. He spent the past year as a Visiting Fellow at the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, working on a book on the reform movement in Iran.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI is a Chair of the Task Force and served as National Security Adviser to President Carter from 1977 to 1981. He is the author of, most recently, The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership.

FRANK CARLUCCI is Chairman Emeritus of the Carlyle Group, having served as Chairman for eleven years. His government background includes service as Secretary of Defense, National Security Adviser, Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, Ambassador, Deputy Director of OMB, and Undersecretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

ROBERT EINHORN is Senior Adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and served as Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation from 1999 to August 2001.

ROBERT M. GATES is a Chair of the Task Force and President of Texas A&M University. Dr. Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 to 1993. In this position, he headed all foreign intelligence agencies of the United States and directed the Central Intelligence Agency. Dr. Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal and the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received the CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

H. P. GOLDFIELD is Vice Chairman of Stonebridge International, LLC, an international strategic advisory firm based in Washington, DC, and a Senior International Adviser to the law firm of Hogan & Hartson LLP. Previously, Mr. Goldfield served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development and as Associate Counsel to President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Goldfield also serves on the Boards of Directors of Black & Veatch Holding Company, the Middle East Institute, and the Israel Policy Forum.

STEPHEN B. HEINTZ is President of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Prior to joining RBF, he was founding President of Demos, a public policy research and advocacy network. After fifteen years in public service, he served as Executive Vice President of the EastWest Institute, based in Prague, from 1990 to 1997.

BRUCE HOFFMAN is Director of the RAND Corporation's Washington Office and Acting Director of RAND's Center for Middle East Public Policy. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy, in West Point, NY.

JOHN H. KELLY was Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia from 1989 to 1991, Ambassador to Lebanon from 1986 to 1988, and Ambassador to Finland from 1991 to 1994. Since then, he has been an international consultant and Ambassador-in-Residence at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, at Georgia Tech.

WILLIAM H. LUERS is President of the United Nations Association of the U.S. and served as an American diplomat for thirty years, including serving as Ambassador to Venezuela and the former Czechoslovakia. He subsequently served as President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art for thirteen years. In his current position, which he has held for five years, he has been involved in high-level discussions on U.S. policy toward Iran.

SUZANNE MALONEY is a Director of this Task Force, and has also served as Middle East adviser for a major international oil company and as Olin Fellow at the Brookings Institution. She is the author of Ayatollah Gorbachev: The Politics of Change in Khatami's Iran.

RICHARD H. MATZKE is President of NESW Solutions, a member of the Board of Directors of OAO LUKoil, Russia's largest oil company, former Vice Chairman of the Chevron Texaco Corporation, and Cochairman of the American Iranian Council.

LOUIS PERLMUTTER has been an investment banker and has participated in various second-track diplomatic discussions over the past twenty years.

JAMES PLACKE served much of his twenty-seven-year Foreign Service career in Middle East oil-exporting countries, concluding as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, with responsibility for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf states, and for U.S. economic relations with the Arab region. He has since been a consultant on Middle East energy economics and strategy affiliated with Cambridge Energy Research Associates.

NICHOLAS PLATT is President Emeritus of the Asia Society. He served as Ambassador to Pakistan, the Philippines, and Zambia in the course of a thirty-four-year Foreign Service career. The Asia Society organized Iran-related policy programs, cultural events, and in-country travel during his tenure as President.

DANIEL B. PONEMAN, former Special Assistant to the President for Nonproliferation and Export Controls, served on the National Security Council staff under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. A Senior Fellow at the Forum for International Policy, he is coauthor of Going Critical: The First North Korean Nuclear Crisis.

ELAHE SHARIFPOUR-HICKS is an independent human rights activist. She spent ten years working as the Iran researcher for Human Rights Watch. She has also worked for the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and for Human Rights First. Sharifpour-Hicks has traveled repeatedly to Iran on human rights missions. She is a frequent commentator on human rights and related policy issues on the Farsi services of the BBC, VOA, RFI, and RFE. She is a graduate of Tehran University Faculty of Law and Political Science. She received her LLM in international law at Fordham Law School in New York.

STEPHEN J. SOLARZ served in public office for twenty-four-years, both in the New York State Assembly and in the U.S. House of Representatives (D-NY). Mr. Solarz served for eighteen years on the U.S. House of Representatives International Affairs Committee, emerging as a leading spokesman on behalf of democracy and human rights. He coauthored the resolution authorizing the use of force in the first Persian Gulf War and led the successful fight for its passage on the House floor.

RAY TAKEYH is a Professor of National Security Studies at the National Defense University.

MORTIMER ZUCKERMAN is Editor-in-Chief of U.S. News & World Report, Publisher of New York's Daily News, and former Middle East adviser to President Bill Clinton.

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