Give Obama Elbow Room on Iran

For the sake of peace, US Congressional obstructionism must end


Give Obama Elbow Room on Iran
by Trita Parsi

THE last round of nuclear negotiations with Iran ended in stalemate, and prospects appear dim for a breakthrough at next week’s meeting in Moscow.

Two central factors are driving Washington’s negotiation strategy at this point. The first is Congressional obstructionism and President Obama’s limited room to maneuver in an election year. The second is outsize expectations about what the current sanctions against Iran can achieve. Both must be abandoned if talks are to succeed.

Mr. Obama needs a continuing diplomatic process to calm the oil markets because of the coming election. Yet, precisely because of the election, he has limited ability to offer the Iranians relief from sanctions in return for nuclear concessions.

Congress is actively seeking to make a deal on the nuclear issue impossible by imposing unfeasible red lines, setting unachievable objectives — and depriving the executive branch of the freedom to bargain.

Just before last month’s talks in Baghdad, Congress passed a resolution that endorsed the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s red line on the nuclear issue (Iran can’t have a uranium-enrichment capability), as opposed to the red line adopted by the Pentagon and the president (Iran can’t have a nuclear weapon). The problem is, Mr. Netanyahu’s red line isn’t feasible and doesn’t leave any room for negotiations.

For three years, Congress has prevented a sensible American policy on Iran. It was largely Congressional pressure that turned Mr. Obama’s Iran policy in 2009 into “a gamble on a single roll of the dice,” in the words of one senior State Department official. Diplomacy had to work right away or not at all.

Then, in 2010, it was again domestic politics and the activities of Congress that ultimately caused the Obama administration to reject a nuclear breakthrough brokered by Brazil and Turkey, which would have cut Iran’s uranium stockpile in half and deprived it of any pretext for enriching uranium to higher levels.

In Baghdad, Congress succeeded in depriving American negotiators of the political space necessary to reciprocate Iranian concessions. The Iranians focused on what they could get. Mr. Obama had to focus on what he wouldn’t give.

For the sake of peace, Congressional obstructionism must end. Sanctions against Iran should be used as leverage in negotiations to extract tangible, verifiable and valuable Iranian nuclear concessions.

The second problem with Mr. Obama’s strategy is an exaggerated belief in what sanctions can actually achieve. Many American officials seem to think that the embargo on Iranian oil can bring down the entire mullahcracy. Believing that such results are within reach, Washington appears mesmerized by its own sanctions and seems to doubt the utility of using them as a bargaining chip. Consequently, there is growing resistance to lifting them, regardless of what concessions Tehran might offer.

That would be a serious mistake.

We have seen this trap before. Whenever either side believes it has the upper hand, the desire for compromise diminishes, and the desire to checkmate the other side increases. But if we don’t negotiate when we are weak (because we are weak), and we don’t negotiate when we are strong (because we don’t have to), then when do we negotiate?

Moreover, the empirical track record of embargoes does not support the notion that this pressure will bring down the clerical autocracy in Tehran and lead to democracy.

Of the 35 states that have made the transition from authoritarianism to democracy since 1955, only one did so under the weight of an embargo: South Africa. Twenty states endured limited sanctions, and the remaining 14 found the path to democracy without any sanctions. Of the 10 states that endured embargoes, again only one democratized and gave up its nuclear program: South Africa. The others became more undemocratic, reactionary and oftentimes more dangerous.

This is the opposite direction of where we want Iran to go.

If Iran agrees in Moscow to accept the American demand that it halt uranium enrichment at the 20 percent level — too low a level to quickly create a nuclear weapon — this would effectively obstruct any Iranian shortcut to a bomb. Congress must then give Mr. Obama the political space to be able to take yes for an answer.

Congress must make up its mind. Does it want to prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb or does it want to maintain its sanctions? Going forward, it can’t have both.

First published in New York Times.

Trita Parsi is president of the National Iranian American Council and the author of “A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran.”


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Arash Kamangir

Romney will take care of IR

by Arash Kamangir on

Mitt Romney seems to be another Ronald Reagan who knows what language tyranns and dictators of this World understands. He has already said that he'd be another sherif in town when he takes over. Let us look forward to Romney taking over and sort the IR problem out.


Can't have negotiations outside DC and Tehran

by bahmani on

One of the reasons I have no faith in ANY diplomacy or negotiations taking place is that you can't ever do it on neutral ground. By the very nature of that, "Neutral" implies an adversarial approach.

This approach, that we are enemies first and foremost, and now we are trying to negotiate something, is contrary to ANY logical dealmaking theory in the history of mankind.

There is only ONE way adversaries can strike a deal. That is in the terms of Surrender.

Since neither side is conceding, any and all talks in this pose are pointless. As we have seen.

All that is happening is the US pretends to offer Iran a deal that isn't one, certainly isn't tangible enough to whet Iran's appetite. And Iran leaks a bit more on just how far it has gotten towards building the ful frontal penile bomb, that it probably already has sitting in a warehouse in South Tehran. Still in the Pakestan packing crate it came in.

I prefer the second definition of Diplomacy, "skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility", which sadly we have seen none of in this pre-election charade, a critical election for both sides. Necessary for each to put on a good show for the sheep who choose their individual American and Iranian Idols.

You can't negotiate if you don't allow you opponents to come onto your turf, and you get to go to theirs.

Turkey? Baghdad? Moscow? None of these field trips will achieve anything other than the evocative photo ops, always with smiling negotiators, but who always seems to gird their loins with both hands as they pose and smile, pose and smile, pose and smile. In front of impressive hotel lobbies.

Oh, and they also tell everyone in what's left of the Press, that the negotiations "...were constructive..."

We are sheep to believe any of this. Idiot Sheep.

To read more bahmani posts visit: //

Darius Kadivar

vildemose no worries Hollywood whores will help reelect OUBAMA

by Darius Kadivar on


parsi, you mean

by shushtari on

give my bosses, the akhoonds, some elbow room- to:

1. steal more of iran's wealth

2. killl more iranians

3. imprison more iranians.

4. build their bomb to start WW3

this fool doesn't know when to shut up.....

his idea of 'peace' is another 33 years of rape, murder, and brainwashing of our young children. 


 Obama's re-election

by vildemose on

 Obama's re-election prospects does not look good:

 Race Matters: Why Gallup Poll Finds Less Support For President Obama



All Oppression Creates a State of War--Simone De Beauvoir


Alas, Alas, Alas!

by Demo on

One might write thousands of articles & books & speak like a parrot but if he has no idea what the real 'hardship' means & has no concept for the word 'suffer' then how could he be our nation's envoy?  

Darius Kadivar

Jomhurykhahs Secular or Not should Support Trita & NIAC ...

by Darius Kadivar on

After all I fail to see what is he advocating from a purely historical perspective which is in contradiction with your beliefs ?


Iranian masses VOTE against the Monarchy in Referendum 1979



Safeguarding Your Republic (born from a Revolution which you overwhelmingly supported in the first place anyhow) in an aim to reform it into a secular democratic Republic on the long run ...


Wasn't this the main reason why this organization was supported through massive publicity on this website and elsewhere from day one ?


So truly I don't see why some of you Jomhurykhah folks oppose NIAC's approach ? ...


I Even understand less why some of you are ready to support Crown Prince Reza preferably with Pre Conditions ...


Ultimate Sacrifice |


Do you think the French would have rushed like Geddas asking the son of the former French King to come and help them fullfil their Revolution merely because they were confronted to the Reign of Terror ? ...


HISTORY FORUM: Bahram Moshiri's Take on The French Revolution and Why He Misses The Point ;0)


However imperfect It's YOUR Republic  :


Constitutionalist's Rebuttal of Republican Assessment that Revolution was "Highjacked" 


Shadi Sadre's Rebuttal of Massoud Behnoud's Endorsement of IRI Constitution


That Constitutionalists like me consider Trita and his organization as Illegitimate is only natural ...


TREACHEROUS ALLIANCE: Shapour Bakhtiar’s Post Mortem Message to NIAC’ers 


For ultimately it's about Coherence ! 


Trita is merely putting to practice what you folks have been claiming all the time:  the Triumph of the Revolutionary ideals for which you toppled the former Regime.


Rather than going back to what is deemed rightly by us Constitutionalists as the Only historically Legitimate Democratic draft at our disposal :


pictory: Bakhtiar Denounces Bazargan's Provisionary Government in exile (1979)


RESTORATION: Shapour Bakhtiar advocates Restoring the Monarchy (Interview with Newsweek in London, 1984) 


That is why I believe Trita should stop calling his organization the National Iranian American Council but the Iranian American Jomhurykhah Organization in exile cause in reality NIAC only represents those Iranian Americans who advocate a Jomhury for Iran as a state of government.



So I highly recommend anyone who advocates a Jomhury of Iran (Secular or Not) to fully Support Trita Parsi and his organization ...


Cause Quite honestly You can't have it both ways  ... 


SATIRE: The Burqa Republic of Our IRANICAN Dreams ;0) 


At the expense of being labled Traitors to King and Country ( which you are anyhow from a purely historical Iranian perspective that is ... LOL ) might as well choose Loyalty to your Vision of a future Democratic Iran of Brotherly Love under Mossdageh's Portrait or that of Shirin Ebadi or anyother PREEEEESIIIIIIIIIDEEEEEEENTEH Mahboub of your choice ...  


DEATH - VERTISING ? Mehrangiz Kar Claims Husband was No More a Monarchist 



Otherwise I just fail to understand why some of you advocate some kind of "Hambasteghyi" knowing full well that it's "Tokmi" ...


LIMITS TO HAMBASTEGHI: Fravahar on impossibiity of Rallying Jomhurykhahs (Secular or Not)


For you all know as well as We Do that Political reality ultimately dicates one's Alliances ...


"Birds of the same feather flock together" ...






An Unapologetic Iranian American Constitutionalist Monarchist

Paris, FRANCE 




Khosro Fravahar sums it best here :





And Why Claiming your revolution was highjacked is boloney:








 Trita Parsi Another

by Khebedin on

 Trita Parsi

Another well thought article by Dr Trita Parsi. I am shocked of the petty writings against him on this site, which all are hear say and free of any reason and based on noting but hate for the IRI. Trita expresses a well thought view and practical approach for America while considering how war can work against both nations.


Trita US Relations

by Demo on



"I believe we need to have a consciences between the Iranian government and reach a resolution with US while the Democrats are in power before it's too late."

No 'true' Iranian is going to be against such resolution. What is missing here though to argue whether or not Mr. T is a 'true' representative of our people to work on their behalf. For one thing, he left Iran when he was only 4 years old & has 'triple' citizenships with 'Iranian' as the least important one & only by birth! How was he appointed to speak for us after all? Even as a counsultant he has been so far ineffective & a dragger with a 'self serving agenda' as most Americans do! Do not we need to have a more mature & a real Iranian to represent us @ this crucial stage of talks?


Iran US relations

by Cyrus20 on

The sanctions make the Iranian people suffer and not the government of Iran. By definition they would not work. The refusale of the US government to remove sanction in congress adds more flame to the fire.  The Iranian government is best to buy nuclear fuel at the current time and as time passes and it shows that they are using the nuclear technology for peacfull means then it can start producing it's own fuel in five years. There is no doubt that conservative party in US does not want democracy in Iran but the liberal party in opposition wants the Iran to have a democracy.

The Iranian government has to find ways to have the Iran's nuclear energy technology to be put in use by everyone in the region. Such as selling electric power to others in the region.

There is no evidence that Iran is after nuclear weapons and it does not have any gain in developing such weapons. The Isreali lobby is powerfull in senate in US and stopping the removal of sanctions against Iran.

Untill the EU is convinced that Iran is not building nuclear weapons this would go on for years and the people of Iran suffer. I believe we need to have a consciences between the Iranian government and reach a resolution with US while the Democrats are in power before it's too late.

Amir Javidinejad 


بازداشت حدود ۶۰ نفر از فعالین کارگری در کرج


روز گذشته، ۲۶ خردادماه بیش از ۶۰ نفر از اعضای کمیته هماهنگی برای کمک به ایجاد تشکل‌های کارگری و تعدادی از فعالین کارگری در شهر کرج توسط مامورین اطلاعات بازداشت شده‌اند.

به گزارش کمیته هماهنگی برای کمک به ایجاد تشکل‌های کارگری، ساعت ۱۲ ظهر روز جمعه ۲۶ خردادماه ماموران امنیتی با مراجعه‌ی مسلحانه به خانه‌ای در کرج، بیش از ۶۰ نفر از فعالین کارگری را بازداشت کردند. دستگیری این افراد همراه با ایجاد رعب و وحشت در میان همسایگان صورت گرفته است.

میترا همایونی، وفا قادری، ریحانه انصاری، خالد حسینی، محمود صالحی، سعید مقدم، سیروس فتحی، غالب حسینی، محمد عبدی‌پور، جلال حسینی، علیرضا عسگری، مسعود سلیم‌پور، عباس اندریانی، صدیق امجدی، فتاح سلیمانی، مازیار مهرپور، محمد مولانایی، واحد سیده، جلیل

شریفیان، صدیق خسروی، یوسف آب‌خراباد، فرامرز فطرت‌نژاد، جلیل محمدی، نظام صادقی،

افشین ندیمی، حسین پیلوتی، رحمان ابراهیم‌زاده، عباس هاشم‌پور، فردین می‌رکی، سعید مرزبان شیرکو حسینی، جواد معصومی، جمیل راست‌خدیو، ریبوار عبداللهی، ابراهیم مصطفایی، علی آزادی و فرامرز احمدی درمیان بازداشت شدگان هستند.

بر اساس این گزارش بازداشت شدگان به اداره‌ی اطلاعات کرج مستقر در زندان رجایی شهر منتقل شده و تاکنون از وضعیت آن‌ها خبر ی در دسترس نیست.

iraj khan

What is at stake?

by iraj khan on

Give President Obama some elbow room to resolve Iran's nuclear issue diplomatically. 

That's what Trita Parsi is talking about.

Then, why is there so much hysteria created around Mr Parsi?

He is saying U.S. congress, ander pressure from Israel Lobby, 

is following Netanyahu's line of attack on Iran.

Also, U.S. congress is pressuring President Obama to follow Netanyahu's line on Iran. 

Do you agree with Netanyahu?

Well the jews on this website do,

many monarchists do,

the 'Bomb Iran' crowd also want an attack against Iran.

These are the main questions to be answered by those who are still confused by the dire situation at hand. 


Mohammad Ala

من موافقم که امریکا برای ایران دمکراسی نمیخواهد.

Mohammad Ala

ایرانیها بایستی هماهنگ بشوند و امور خود را برای عدالت و آزادی در دست خود بگیرند


Trita Supporting IRI at the expense of Iran is nothing new.

by amirparvizforsecularmonarchy on

Trita knows the USA has no desire to see democracy in iran, which is why they betrayed irans most democratically acting King (by the USA cynically labelling him a dictator no surprise).

So his comment...."Of the 35 states that have made the transition from authoritarianism to
democracy since 1955, only one did so under the weight of an embargo:
South Africa. Twenty states endured limited sanctions, and the remaining
14 found the path to democracy without any sanctions. Of the 10 states
that endured embargoes, again only one democratized and gave up its
nuclear program: South Africa. The others became more undemocratic,
reactionary and oftentimes more dangerous." Is disingenuous too.

IRI servants are truly hated by most Iranians today, Trita has no desire to destinguish himself as after the wishes of the people of Irans wishes and instead acts to benefit the IRI.... yet Trita change will eventually happen... I hope it is for the better, not like the IRI for the worse.  

Mehrdad A

Elbow Room or Knee Jerk Strategy?

by Mehrdad A on

Trita speaks as if Obma's actions on Iran are constricted by Congress. Never before have the US president and Congress been so much in harmony regarding continuing biting sanctions against the IR. Parsi knows well that his recommendations to remove sanctions against the Mullahs regime have failed. Maybe instead he can recommend the regime in Iran to stop their knee jerk strategy so as to prevent a devastating war.


who is this guy?

by rain bow movment on

 he is one of the 1000000th middle men around the world wrking for IRI,no matter how real Iranian people living under these monstrouse regim.they are thinking for themselves,IRI willbe remove by force not by vote.

  There is no limit to stupidity & ignorance of IRI supporter



Mohammad Alireza

Keep up the good work

by Mohammad Alireza on

Mr. Trita Parsi is very well informed, is working extremely hard to prevent war with Iran, and basically has the interest of all Iranians at heart.

He gets my vote.


NIAC & Mr. Parsi are so irrelevant ….

by Bavafa on

که یک سیاه لشکر هست که فقط به اون حمله شخصی‌ کنند


'Hambastegi' is the main key to victory 




by vildemose on

Dear Saeed:

That is the most appropriate name for NIAC and its function. Thank you.  


All Oppression Creates a State of War--Simone De Beauvoir


May I suggest

by varjavand on

May I suggest that instead of criticizing him prematurely, please read his book " A Single Roll of the Dice" first


Saeed D.


by Saeed D. on

Is NIAC now the official DNC Super-PAC? No wonder this article was published in New York Times. Mr. Parsi is so off and this article has so many factual errors, it is not funny! NIAC claims to represent Iranian-Americans? Now that is funny. 

Mr. Obama is only concerned about his re-election, and if we know it, IRI knows it too. Remember the last days of Carter? and how fast the hostages were released when Reagan was elected? You can only negociate with the terrorists from the position of power. 


The S. African Model?

by Demo on

No need to copy cat any models! No need to waste time with Mr. TJ's reps of 'shooting the stars' stuff 10000 times or more! No need to pay attention to the same 'fossilized' comments of Fred below! And so absurd to compare Mandela, who fought against apartheid and spent 27 years of his life in prison, with either Karoubi or Mousavi, the 2 most opportunistic elements of the same ruling 'body bodies!' Just come up with a new solution & rely on the power within or simply give up!


 More repetitive

by vildemose on

 More repetitive pontification by a has been..


All Oppression Creates a State of War--Simone De Beauvoir

First Amendment


by First Amendment on

Thanks for the good read........and as far as FARA is concerned, I among those who can't wait to see AIPAC registered......

The S. African model? why not........surely, we have our own a pair.......Mousavi and kidding there either......


Flopping Fish on a Hot Frying Pan!

by Faramarz on



My favorite parts of Trita's desperate blog:

- "Mr. Obama needs a continuing diplomatic process to calm the oil markets."

- Oil markets are so calm at under $90 that they don't even have a pulse!

- "The second problem with Mr. Obama’s strategy is an exaggerated belief in what sanctions can actually achieve."

- The sanctions have caused so much pain to the Regime that they have showed up at the negotiations table with their tails between their legs!

And these losers claim that they represent the Iranian-American community! Not in a million years.

Desperate acts by a bunch of desperados!



NIAC lobby

by Fred on

What the lifetime president of the NIAC lobby proposes here, namely accepting the 20% enrichment and lifting of the sanctions, has no discernable difference with the official position of the Messianic Islamist Rapists who according to Obama are after weaponized nuke.

Isn’t it time for the lifetime president of the NIAC lobby to come out of the see-through closet and register his lobby under FARA, The Foreign Agents Registration Act?

BTW, the Messianic Islamist Rapists are carbon copy of the savage Apartheid regime, ergo, the South African model of sanctions/embargo fits like a glove.