Michael Doran on the “Bad Deal” with Iran

By | Dec 22, 2013

By Lucille Marshall

America’s recent agreement with Iran is a “bad deal,” former Bush National Security Council official Michael Doran told students and community members at Columbia University last week.

The United States’ interim agreement with Iran, announced late last month, aims to slow the country’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. But Doran claimed the arrangement abandons the United States’ demand to prevent all nuclear progress in Iran.

“In making the deal, we ceded an enormous amount of leverage to the Iranians,” said Doran, now a senior fellow in Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution. “We said that we are going to recognize their right to enrichment.”

He also asserted that America’s recognition of Iranian enrichment sets the tone for the future, warning that Iran “made absolutely reversible concessions, in return for what I believe, on our part, were irreversible concessions.” Doran stressed that Iran “agreed to step back half a step from break-out capability”—which is too temporary for comfort.

“I believe that the agreement has also taken the credible threat of force off the table,” Doran said. While the Obama administration asserts that the possibility of military action in Iran still holds true, “This is a president who does not want to use force in the Middle East,” he went on. “It’s simply the case that in the Middle East, nobody believes there’s a credible threat of force. For a threat of force to be perceived as credible, it must be perceived by the major actors in the region to be credible.”

Former Bush National Security Council official Michael Doran (left) with Yale Law School student Jordan Hirsch (right) at Columbia University.

Former Bush National Security Council official Michael Doran (left) with Yale Law School student Jordan Hirsch (right) at Columbia University.

Doran emphasized that the loss of this credibility weakens our diplomatic options: “By taking the threat of force off the table, we made it much less likely that we’ll actually be able to reach the diplomatic settlement that we say we want.”

Addressing the general relationship between the United States and the Middle East, Doran also criticized the Obama administration for its under involvement, especially in Syria. “The single most important decision that the president made about the Middle East was the decision to simply pull back from it,” he said, insisting that America’s “stand off-ish” attitude about the region alienates our Middle Eastern allies.

“We fractured our alliance politically. The story now is the United States verses Israel, the United States verses Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration verses hard-liners in Congress,” Doran stated. These divisions within our alliances will be blamed as the obstacle to successful negotiations, “not that the Iranians [refuse] to comply with the will of the international community.”

Doran endorsed even harsher economic sanctions on Iran. “If the Iranians decide that they’re going to go for break out and a nuclear weapon, it’s much better that they do so under a very tight sanctions regime,” he said.

“We have to get tough,” Doran replied when asked what the country’s next step should be. “We have to sit down with the Israelis and with our primary European partners, and we have to come up with a mutually-agreed bottom line of what is absolutely necessary to get from the Iranians, so as to prevent them from having break-out capability.”


Image of President Barack Obama on the phone with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani courtesy of Creative Commons.

3 thoughts on “Michael Doran on the “Bad Deal” with Iran

  1. Stanley M Blumberg says:

    A worse deal is another war,as stupid as Mr Dorans boss lied us into which cost us thousands of dead,and wounded,and a trillion
    dollars,and counting. Which accomplished what ,nothing,and made the. U.S. And Israel more vulnerable. Its time overdue that
    the American people start to think of the other one percent,the one percent that does the fighting snd the dying,the one percent of
    the multiple deployments. I believe that the President,any President would be failing in his responsibility to avoid war no matter
    how slim the chances may be. It has always been a source of anger to me, a ninety year old veteran of WW 2 that many of the
    so called hawks are people with no military service in anyones army.

  2. Stanley M Blumberg says:

    To add to my previous comments Mr Doran is a neo -con product of Stanford,and Princeton who of course has never served
    in the military. Commentary magazine that aviary of chicken hawks,and the Weekly Standard Murdochs rag has published
    most of his call to arms,with of course someone elses body.incidently if you want to see chutzpa in action read Commentaries
    two resident military,”experts”Max Boot,and Victor Davis Hanson but beware,neither of these men have ever worn the uniform
    of any country, “nuff said “

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