Since the December headlines about U.S.-led sanctions against Iran to President Obama’s statement today that “there is still a window that allows for a diplomatic resolution to this issue”, American-Iranian relations have been at the center of foreign policy, as we head into another election year and reflect on the past year’s Arab Spring and the role that non-Arab states like Iran and Israel have played on the Middle Eastern political stage.
Trita Parsi, President of the National Iranian American Council and author of the new book, A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran, will appear on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart this Thursday, March 8 to discuss how we arrived at the current state of affairs and what steps might be next taken for the U.S. to move forward in bringing about a resolution. We sat down with Parsi to discuss the informed opinion of his book and why timing, as ever, is so important in bringing these diplomatic issues to light.
Yale University Press: Why this book?
Trita Parsi: In Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the United States, I showed how the absence of serious diplomacy had brought the U.S., Israel, and Iran to the brink of war. With Obama, an attempt at diplomacy was made – but it failed. The new book looks at what actually happened in that diplomacy and why it fell short. The answer will surprise a lot of people.
TP: The headlines tend to be about the nuclear issue, but that is the symptom rather than the root of the problem. The real problem is the dysfunctional relationship between the U.S. and Iran – and the fact that it is playing out in a volatile region that won’t achieve stability until Washington and Tehran find a way to get along.
YUP: How did you conduct the research for your book?
TP: The topic is very current, so I relied primarily on classified government documents and interviews with top officials from every state involved in Obama’s outreach to Iran—from Israel to Saudi Arabia, the E.U., Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and , of course, the U.S. and Iran.
YUP: How can Obama succeed with Iran?
TP: It all comes down to political will and maneuverability – both in Tehran and in Washington. It is only when we fully realize the cost of failure that we will muster the will and patience to overcome the obstacles on the road to peace.
Trita Parsi is president of the National Iranian American Council and a former Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In 2010 he received the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, and he is frequently consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters. Listen to Parsi’s Yale Press Podcast interview, available now for free download.