January 10th, 2013
08:47 AM ET

The year we reckon with Iran

By Fareed Zakaria

Opponents of Chuck Hagel's nomination to be the U.S.'s next Secretary of Defense claim he is outside the mainstream in his views on Israel. Hagel's actual policy positions don't reflect that. On many issues, he sounds a lot like Israeli President Shimon Peres, who lamented in an interview published Jan. 9 by the New York Times that Israel was not doing enough to make peace. In any event, Hagel's views on Israel are irrelevant, since policy on that issue will be set by the White House and Congress. Where Hagel does appear out of the mainstream is on Iran, which is a good thing because Washington desperately needs fresh thinking on the topic.

In 2013, perhaps in the next few months, President Obama will face a crisis on Iran. He has categorically ruled out living with a nuclear-armed Iran under a Cold War–style policy of containment. That means either Iran will capitulate to U.S. demands or the U.S. will go to war with Iran. Since the first option is extremely unlikely and the second extremely unattractive, the Obama Administration needs to find a negotiated solution. That means using sticks and carrots–or what is often called coercive diplomacy–to get a deal that Washington and Tehran can live with.

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Topics: Iran • Middle East • Time

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Hahahahahahaha

    I reckon Isreal will strike this year before it's too late. Hahahahahahahahaha

    January 10, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Thinker23

      Israel will not use force against Iran unless as a last resort in case there will be no other way to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Iran moves closer to the ability to build a nuclear weapon, and the West is anxious to cut a deal with Iran over its nuclear programme. There wouldn't be a US-strike on Iran in 2013, but it will be close-run. Chuck Hagel has to deal with this so-called "axis of evil" and will have to make tough decisions on Syria, Iran, and North Korea.

        January 11, 2013 at 4:49 am |
  2. Joseph McCarthy

    Why reckon with the Iranians when we can negotiate with them? Or better yet, let's reestablish diplomatic relations with them and forget all this anti-Iranian stupidity running rampant in this country! As a hindsight, we should have continued having strong diplomatic relations with Germany back in 1917 and stayed out of WW1 altogether! That way, WW2 would probably never have taken place!

    January 10, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Thinker23

      Somehow I doubt that in case the US would stay out of WW! the Nazis would not start WWII. I also think that it is only possible to have strong diplomatic relations with countries willing to have them. It was not possible for the US to have strong diplomatic relations with Germany that was AT WAR with Britain and France in 1917 and it is not possible for the US to to have strong diplomatic relations with Iran trying to obtain nuclear weapons and use them to destroy Israel.

      January 10, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Joseph McCarthy

        In the first place Thinker23, had Germany won that war, the Nazis would never have formed a political movement let alone come to power. In the second place, the true reason we entered WW1 was because Wall Street had large amounts of money invested in France and Great Britain. If these countries lost, Wall Street stood a large chance of losing it's overseas investments!

        January 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  3. FF

    Dear Mr. Zakaria,

    The occasion of a mere nomination, is a good opening for yet another prediction: a reckoning in the next few months. But consider that the relations between the US and Iranian governments are stable and unfriendly, while relations between most Americans and Iranians. even mid-level officials, are stable and friendly. The nuclear issue, preemptive strikes, and sanctions have run their course and are parts of this stability. The leaders on both sides know this. Where is the incentive for a speedy reckoning?

    This stability will last much longer. Why? Because there is a whole new generation in the world that has not grown up with the sharp divisions among people and the preoccupation with war and conflict. Let's hope all leaders continue to recognize this and avoid direct conflict until they can hand off power to them.

    By the way, the concept of carrots and sticks applies to pack animals which the Iranians, whether or not we think they are overly sensitive, find offensive. Attribution to a tactic the US administration may use helps prolong unfriendliness.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  4. bribarian

    Iran is no enemy of America, let israel deal with it.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
  5. zaeed

    always watch your show fareed keep it strong great journalism.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
  6. bribarian

    Most of America is done fighting zi0nist wars.

    January 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  7. empresstrudy

    Iran and Obama quietly reached an agreement. In exchange for not going nuclear before 2Q2013 Obama wouldn't stop them in any way. After the inauguration and before midyear 2013 Iran will announce they are a nuclear power. This will give Obama cover to bolt from Afghanistan a year earlier than stated. This will also keep Assad in power and help spread the Shiia fundamentalist revolution into Iraq and Jordan. And the Caucuses.

    January 11, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  8. dog4dog

    If they really wanna stop Iran from getting nukes they should put an embargo on Italy. Italy, from what I read on the Internet, is irans number one trading partner for uranium. You would think however that they already have weapons grade uranium from old soviet stockpiles from when the union collapsed and their satellite states gained freedom along with abandoned refineries.

    January 13, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  9. Lance

    Israhell is a parasitic leech on America and will not last as a nation given that it cannot succeed on its own but only as long as it can perpetually suck off the teat of the American taxpayers for free. This is a valid statement given that Israehell cannot sustain itself without leeching of WE THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS....Economically it is not viable that a racist apartheid state can continue to leech tens of billions of dollars off of America for perpetuity as Americans are fed up with Israhell coming like hobo with cap in hand year after year after year.
    Can Israel-Firsters not get it that America is broke and we need to look after our own needy who are in their tens of millions in the USA.
    Fact is that Israel has to prosper on its own without parasitically leeching off of Americans and that is something that that nation is incapable of notwithstanding that Israel understands that living is easy if it is off the hard work of others, namely, WE THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS!
    Fact is that once aid from America stops, Israhell is no longer capable of sustaining itself and if a nation cannot sustain itslef on its own, it will vanish from history and that is a reality that will face Israel notwithstanding all the obfuscation and misrepresentations of what Iran or Ahmedinajad said!!!
    Any readers wanting to re-post this article anywhere has my permission to do so as these "Never Again" Israel-Firster protesters that did Israhell's Nutty-Yahoo bidding by demonstrating in front of OUR President's campaign offices on September 29 are traitors to America who are corrupting America's body politic by putting the interests of that foreign power called IsraHell ahead of America's!!!!
    These Israel–Firsters are clearly showing that their loyalty is to a foreign state called IsraHell and NOT to America.
    They are trying to put a Holocaust guilt trip on Americans to get more Americans needlessly killed in useless wars for their PRECIOUS (said like Golem in the Lord of the Rings), Isra-Hell, in a way that will bankrupt the American treasury and put tens of millions of Americans out of work.
    As many ordinary Americans are now saying, these Israel-Firster traitors can go and shove it as We The American Taxpayers are sick of the Holocaust Industry being rammed down our throats so that Israel-Firsters can leech our dollars off of it for the benefit of both themselves and Israhell which is the biggest parasitic leech on We The American Taxpayers for fifty plus years in the amounts in the hundreds of billions of dollars if not trillions of dollars with no end in sight.
    Judaism is a noble religion and has given many noble values, principles, and precepts to all of humanity and we should not deny the Holocaust but pray for the victims of the Nazi's including Jews, Russians, Gypsies,among others.
    The fact is though that it is sad that Hitler (who I unequivocally condemn), was so ashamed of his own Jewish Ashkenazim/Khazar/Berber origins that he murdered his own people in such horrendous numbers, and Israel-Firsters have ohhh so conveniently hidden or masked this fact for far too long!!!
    The Holocaust did happen and we should be sad about it and the millions of other victims of the Nazis and of Hitler but let's not ignore the origins of those that did it either.
    The reality is that Alfred Rosenberg wrote the ideology of the Nazis – wanna guess what his religious background was?
    It's sad that a person with origins from a great religion like Alfred Rosenberg came from designed Nazi ideology....google and verify fer herself, Israel-Firsters 'cause yu kin run but yu cain't hide as sound items cain't cut it no more...
    Incidentally, when was the last time that anyone here went to a museum on the terrible inhumanity of slavery?
    How about a museum on the horrible treatment of American-Indians/South American Indians?
    How about a museum on the scourge of colonialism and it's horrible effects to this day on billions of human beings in Asia, in Africa, in North and South America?
    After all, these evils went on for centuries and affected billions of human beings all over the world while the Holocaust despite its terrible evils went on for a paltry four years between 1941-1945.
    Where are all those other museums to man's inhumanity and why are we lambasted with the Holocaust all day and all night in every movie or tv show or news story and every museum on the street corner?
    Why have people but especially Americans not had an opportunity to go these other Museums on slavery or colonialism et et?
    I'll tell you why!
    It is because other groups don't try to leech money off the miseries experienced by their people and other fellow human beings, and they have not made a business industry to profit off of these horrible activities for perpetuity as Israel-Firsters have done!!
    It seems that Israel-Firsters want to hammer Americans and everyone else with the reality of the Holocaust that was instigated by a person of Jewish origin, namely, Adolph Hitler, on his own Jewish people, and they want to put the guilt of the Holocaust on each and every human being while hiding or obfuscating about the prominent role that people of Jewish origin played in this terrible event, and trying to portray it as the most terrible event that ever happened in human history. And all the while, they leech money of it in the most greedy immoral manner!!
    Guess what, Israel-Firsters?
    We Americans had nothing to do with the cannibalization of your people by one of your own, namely, Adolph Hitler, so it's time to end the business industry that you have made around the Holocaust and trying to profit off the miserable end of millions of innocent Jewish people in the gas chambers of Europe at the expense of decent hard working Americans!

    January 17, 2013 at 5:37 am |

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