Past Speaker Highlight: Ambassador Ryan Crocker
In a recent op-ed for USA Today, Ambassador Ryan Crocker (our Fall 2013 Distinguished Speaker) warns politicians that the joint comprehensive plan of action between the US and Iran “is an arms control agreement, not a treaty of friendship.” Crocker served as an American ambassador to various countries in the Middle East from 1990 to 2012, and he now serves as dean of the George Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University. While some commentators hope that the successful implementation of the arms agreement will signify an end to 35 years of tension between the US and Iran, Crocker is skeptical.
The “Iran deal” is meant to end “nuclear related international sanctions” and signifies the implementation of the nuclear weapons agreement. Iran has reduced its ability to create nuclear weapons, and as part of the agreement, it will stockpile no more than 600 pounds of low enriched uranium for at least 15 years. While Crocker acknowledges the success of the agreement, he also recalls the mixed results of the arms agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States in the 1980s. Similarly to the current deal, the success of that agreement created a safer world; despite this, it did little to ease tensions between the two nations.
The ongoing conflicts in the Middle East serve as a backdrop to what Crocker calls a “cold war” between Iran and Saudi Arabia: Sunni vs. Shiite, Arab vs. Persian. Much of the violence in the Middle East has been initiated because of Iran. As the Middle East becomes increasingly unstable, Crocker recommends that the U.S. reinforce its alliances in the Middle East with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Israel, Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. Recent actions by the U.S. have focused on reducing conflict with the Iranians and the Russians in the Middle East; however, Crocker suggests that these appeasement tactics will allow the Iranians to promote a violent agenda, and the U.S. should maintain a position of strength for now.