The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

38 OCTOBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL Iran offers a potential path to progress in dealing with the volatile Middle East and the threats emanating from there. T he writer L.P. Hartley once observed: “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” The same can be said of the future. For instance, even the most rosy-eyed U.S. policymakers in 1983 would not have suspected that the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc would peacefully expire within a decade. Still, the practice of foreign policy compels practitioners toward realism bordering on pessimism. As a result, acute failures in policy planning have occurred in the wake of success. Even the most cynical policymakers should plan for a range of outcomes, including success, no matter how improbable they may seem. With that in mind, the strategy outlined below for dealing with Tehran between now and 2025 is premised on one potential path of progress—perhaps not the most likely path, but one Washing- ton should be prepared to pursue to maximize the outcome. Why 2025? That is the year in which key provisions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—the agreement President Barack Obama worked out to slow Tehran’s progress toward becoming a nuclear power—expire, giving Iran more leeway to restart that program. Obviously, a nuclear-armed Iran poses a direct threat to the United States and its allies, and would upset the balance of power in the region, almost certainly touching off a regional nuclear arms race. Meanwhile, our efforts to address instability throughout the Middle East are draining our military capacity, leaving us vulner- able to threats from adversaries. Our economic prosperity, and that of our allies, would suffer should the supply of Middle East oil be interrupted. Within these threats, however, an opportunity exists: Iran desires security through regional hegemony. Dave Schroeder is a 2017 Distinguished Graduate of the National War College and recipient of a master’s degree in national strategic studies, as well as the George F. Kennan Strategic Writing Award. A Foreign Service officer since 2000, he previously served as the deputy director in the economic policy office for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. He served overseas in Guangzhou, Tirana, Mexico City and Kyiv, and in Washington as the Serbia desk officer. He currently serves in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs as a coordinator for air quality and hazardous chemical programs. Prior to joining the State Department, Mr. Schroeder practiced law as a trial attorney for 11 years in Alexandria, Virginia. He is married to a fellow career diplomat, Roxanne Cabral, and the couple has three sons. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the U.S. government. BY DAVE SCHROEDER FOCUS ON DEALING WITH IRAN IRAN in 2025: An Optimist‘s View