Experts Call for Diplomacy, Not War, with Iran

Aug 29, 2012

Government officials and foreign policy experts from both sides of the political aisle call for diplomacy, not war, with Iran. Below is a sampling of quotes from officials who advocate that the United States should be pursuing diplomacy with Iran.

Also see quotes by other US and Israeli officials warning against a military attack on Iran and against sanctions on Iran.

Secretary of State John Kerry

John Kerry, Secretary of State

"the idea that the United States of America [as] a responsible nation to all of humankind would not explore [diplomacy] would be the height of irresponsibility and dangerous in itself."
[Ploughshares Fund Gala, 10/28/13]

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

“We are very clear-eyed about reality in the Middle East. Iran is a state sponsor of terror, responsible for spreading hatred and extremism throughout the region. But foreign policy is not a zero-sum game. If we can find ways to resolve disputes peacefully, we are wise to explore them.”
[Haaretz, 10/31/13]

Suzanne Maloney, Brookings Institution Expert on Iran

"I don't believe that mistrust is a rationale for not pursuing the talks... The Iranians want to make progress quickly. They want to see tangible results and compensations. This has been a clear theme throughout the decade long nuclear negotiations."
[Brookings, 11/01/2013]

79 former military and diplomatic leaders, intelligence officials, policymakers, and senior security experts

“We applaud your decision to use diplomacy vigorously in an effort to reach agreements with Iran, particularly given President Hassan Rouhani's apparent openness to greater transparency and internationally-accepted and verifiable limits on Iran's nuclear program. The hard work of diplomacy begins now. Decades of distrust and lack of contact between the two countries will complicate the task of reaching agreements that will provide us the assurance we require that Iran's nuclear program will be used only for peaceful purposes.”
[Think Progress, 11/07/13]

Seven European former ambassadors to Iran

We, a group of seven European ambassadors, have all lived and worked in Iran for several years during the last decade. We are convinced that the current nuclear negotiations between Tehran and the six countries representing the international community can advance not only the cause of nonproliferation and stability in the Middle East, but also the everyday well-being of all the people in the region.
[Haaretz, 11/05/2013]

Ambassador Nicholas Burns, former undersecretary of state for political affairs under the G.W. Bush administration

“…The winner of November’s election should do what every president since Jimmy Carter has failed to do — create a direct channel between Washington and Tehran and begin an extended one-on-one negotiation with all issues on the table. The United States should aim for the sustained and substantive talks it has not had in the three decades since American diplomats were taken hostage in Tehran.”
“….We should exhaust diplomacy before we consider war. To attack a country before we have had our first meaningful discussions since 1979 would be shortsighted, to say the least.”
[The Boston Globe, 8/16/2012]

Ambassador Thomas Pickering, Fmr. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and fmr. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

“Past talks have suffered[…]because they have been a series of one-night stands, meetings that took place over one day, where one side or the other, either Iran or the United States, had a proposal, and the other side rejected it. They went away and then spent another six to eight months negotiating a resumption.”
[Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 03/28/12]

William H. Luers and Thomas Pickering, Fmr. U.S. Ambassadors

"It is a grave and uncertain time. Patient, committed diplomacy is the only way to realize the long term and durable objectives of an Iran without nuclear weapons and a region without war…This opportunity should not be squandered.”
[Boston Globe, 03/10/12]

Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.

“We think the best and most permanent way of accomplishing [a resolution of the Iranian nuclear dispute] is through a combined policy of intensified sanctions and pressure, which we are mounting, with the opportunity for Iran to resolve these issues diplomatically. If they take that opportunity and give up their program through a negotiated solution, that’s the best case scenario and in that context much may be possible, potentially.”
Emphasis added. [Think Progress, 3/8/2012]

President Barack Obama

"At this stage, it is my belief that we have a window of opportunity where this can still be resolved diplomatically. That’s not just my view. That’s the view of our top intelligence officials; it’s the view of top Israeli intelligence officials…it is deeply in everybody’s interests – the United States, Israel, and the world’s – to see if this can be resolved in a peaceful fashion.”
[White House, 03/06/12]

Catherine Ashton, European Union Foreign Policy Chief

“Our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated, long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, while respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
[Reuters, 03/06/12]

Senator Dianne Feinstein

“As calls for a military solution to deal with Iran’s nuclear program increase, William H. Luers and Thomas R. Pickering make a compelling case that a better option remains on the table: diplomacy.

As Mr. Luers and Mr. Pickering suggest, we must develop a creative, bold strategy that takes an honest look at the interests of all sides. Only then can we begin to find common ground and outline steps toward an agreement.”
[New York Times, 02/10/12]

General James Cartwright, Former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"You want to try to make sure and work hard to have an official channel that is really open for dialogue, so that the ambiguity at least can be addressed."
[Center for Strategic and International Studies, 02/23/12]

Ambassador James Dobbins, Director of RAND International Security and Defense Policy Center

“We spoke to Stalin’s Russia. We spoke to Mao’s China. In both cases, greater mutual exposure changed their system, not ours. It’s time to speak to Iran, unconditionally, and comprehensively.”
[RAND Corporation, 11/07/07]

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