Today's New York Times includes an op-ed by Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, on negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and the leverage the U.S. has gained from economic sanctions.
Nasr, author of the forthcoming book "The Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat," suggests that now is the time for the U.S. and Iran to meet at the bargaining table to discuss Iran's nuclear ambition and make real progress toward a resolution. But in order for that to happen, Nasr writes, the U.S. must turn from a policy marked by sanctions and intimidation.
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Economic sanctions are biting hard in Iran. Meanwhile, its strategic position is crumbling because of the turmoil in its ally Syria and the rise of militant Sunni Islamism throughout the Arab Middle East. Together, these forces seem to have forced Iran to reconsider its own bargaining position.
So rather than strengthen sanctions another notch, America should give Iran a little tit for tat: begin negotiating directly, and put on the table the prospect of lifting sanctions, one by one, as bargaining chips.