With hopes dimming for a diplomatic end to the Iranian nuclear stalemate in the coming months, some U.S. policy veterans are advising a novel approach to improving ties with the Islamic Republic: showing a little love for ordinary Iranians.
A report by a panel of U.S. experts, which was released Thursday, calls on the Obama administration to engage more directly with the Iranian people, in part to counter increasingly negative attitudes toward Americans following nearly two years of harsh economic sanctions.
The report warns that the popular resentment toward the United States is helping Iran’s clerical rulers deflect some of the blame for the country’s economic crisis. Because of this, Iranian officials have managed to limit the public outcry over nuclear policies that placed Iran on a collision course with the West.
“It is time to play chess, not checkers,” said the report by the Iran Task Force of the Atlantic Council, a group that includes prominent former diplomats and national security officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations. It faulted U.S. officials for pursuing Iranian policies that have been “mostly about tactics and too little about strategy.”