When seemingly spontaneous protests erupted in cities across Iran, beginning in the last days of 2017, the prospect of a new, uncertain, and even hopeful chapter in the country’s tortured history seemed possible. But in Washington, there was little indication of change or opportunity. Instead, the same old debate about the Iran nuclear agreement unfolded.
As thousands of Iranians took to the streets, critics immediately bellowed that the protests proved that the Iran deal was a failure because it had not improved the lives of ordinary Iranians, or claimed that it legitimized the regime and was the reason such unrest had not come about earlier, practically blaming former President Barack Obama for the Islamic Republic’s continued existence.
Indeed, for many opponents of the Iran deal, it has become the single explanation for every (allegedly bad) decision Obama made on Middle East policy over his entire presidency, ranging from his restrained approach to the Green Revolution protests in Tehran in 2009 to his reluctance to become more militarily engaged in Syria. Such airbrushed history distorts the debate — and does little to illuminate what the United States should do next on Iran.
Read the full article in Foreign Policy.
More from CNAS
2020 featured an ever-evolving series of national security challenges....
By Sam Dorshimer, Nathalie Grogan, Emily Jin, Chris Estep & Cole Stevens
ReportsA New U.S. Strategy for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Executive Summary Key Proposition Today’s realities demand that the United States change its approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its current focus is on high-profile...
By Ilan Goldenberg, Michael Koplow & Tamara Cofman Wittes
PodcastHow the US could return to the Iran nuclear deal
The election of Joe Biden presents an opening to strengthen transatlantic diplomacy on Iran. Biden has already outlined his intention to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, primaril...
By Ilan Goldenberg
CommentarySharper: The Next Four Years
America will face a range of national security challenges over the next four years. From sustaining military deterrence to bolstering the nation's economic leadership and more...
By Chris Estep & Cole Stevens