Fukuyama calls Iran’s foreign policy pragmatic, rational

February 19, 2007
WASHINGTON DC (niacouncil.org) - Former neoconservative theorist and Director of Johns Hopkins University's International Development Program, Dr. Francis Fukuyama, described Iranian foreign policy as pragmatic and rational, and announced that a comprehensive political agreement between the U.S. and Iran was still possible, in spite of the Bush administration's present confrontational approach to the Middle East.

"The Grand Bargain may still be there... Our hand is weaker than it was three or four years ago," he said at a National Iranian American Council's (NIAC) and New America Foundation (NAF) Capitol Hill event on U.S.-Iran relations.

Fukuyama challenged America's unilateral approach to Middle East foreign policy over the past 6 years, criticizing the Bush administration's reliance on: overwhelming military might; preventive war as a nonproliferation strategy; democratization as a method of securing strategic goals, unilateralist approaches to international affairs; and what he called a lack of competence in carrying out policy objectives. Fukuyama reasons that stepping up economic pressure on Iran can only work if the U.S. also pursues a "path out that involves a serious political offer."

The theory that Iran would not respond to a deterrence strategy was questioned by Fukuyama, who described Iran as a cautious regional actor in its approach to national interests, "Iran has actually been quite pragmatic," he said.

Cautiousness and skepticism about forging a U.S.-Iran alliance was expressed by the nationally renowned academic; nevertheless, he supported the advancement of more positive incentives or "carrots" coupled with greater sticks to achieve U.S. strategic aims with respect to Iran.

For example, he preferred the forswearing of the U.S. regime change ambitions in Iran and a restoration of diplomatic relations, rather than the Security Council and Germany's (the P5+1) proposal preconditioned on a suspension of enrichment even before the talks begin.

While Fukuyama harbored hopes for warmer relations between the U.S. and Iran, he conceded that such a possibility under the current regional climate would be difficult, although not impossible. A strategic partnership between the U.S. and Iran, however, could not likely be achieved with the current government in Tehran, he argued.