How to Negotiate with Iran

My latest article for the Atlantic Council is out. An excerpt:

It is still early in the second term of the Obama administration, and as with the beginning of all presidential terms, hope springs eternal in political circles that longstanding obstacles to policy progress will be swept away. In that spirit, a host of commentators are calling for the United States and Iran to make a renewed effort to resolve the differences between them.

Calls for the two countries to engage in talks have become especially insistent given the concern that Iran continues to make progress in its apparent effort to acquire nuclear weapons. Because of the urgency that issue, the United States may be tempted to make it the sole focus of talks with Iran. But a singular focus on the nuclear issue may not serve American interests well.

Both countries will use high profile negotiations to rally world opinion to their side; favorable public opinion will, after all, make it easier for the recipient of that public opinion to achieve its goals. In order to successfully rally world opinion to its side, United States would do well to make negotiations touch on a multitude of subjects that will serve to cement Iran’s image as a rogue state in the eyes of the international community. In particular, the United States should highlight the many human rights abuses that go on regularly in Iran, and make the case that through oppression of its people, the Iranian regime should be a pariah in the international community.

Read it all.