Last week, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett penned a New York Times op-ed advocating for a robust effort to achieve a “grand bargain” with the Iranians, rather than continuing down the Bush-Obama path of “containment.”
In response, Dan Drezner over at Foreign Policy wrote a very critical response, in which he counted the ways that he did not like the Leveretts op-ed.
I then responded to Drezner’s post on this blog.
The folks over at Blogging Heads must have picked up on this exchange, because they arranged for a “debate” between Leverett and Drezner, which I have posted above.
I put “debate” in quotation marks because this particular blogging heads session is not really a traditional back and forth argument. Instead, it consists of Drezner asking a series of critical questions (and rolling his eyes), and Leverett offering responses.
Still, the session is an excellent primer on why working toward a “grand bargain” with Iran could be a real game changer for the United States – and how the obstacles to getting there can be overcome.
The part of the exchange I found most interesting (at about 28:30) was when Flynt laid out exactly why a grand bargain is necessary. He argues that none of our most urgent objectives in the Middle East (solving the Israel/Palestine issue, putting Lebanon on a more stable path, improving conditions in Iraq) can be solved without a more productive U.S.-Iranian relationship. Therefore we either strike a deal with the Iranians or we continue to muddle along without success on these pressing issues.
– Ben Katcher