Taking Adm. Mullen’s Advice on Iran Hotline

On the radar: Preventing accidental war with Iran; NATO-Russia cooperation by Chicago; Pollack and Takeyh double down; Modernizer unhappy with budget process; Update on the DDPR; Reason to test Iran’s offers; S. Korea and the nuclear option; and Putin’s new political context

October 3, 2011 | Edited by Benjamin Loehrke and Mary Kaszynski

Reasons for a hotline with Iran - “The combination of [declining American influence in the Persian Gulf, domestic trmoil from the Arab Spring, and the collapse of statecraft] explains why the U.S. military leadership has voiced its concerns that an accidental clash in the Persian Gulf could spiral out of control,” writes Trita Parsi in The LA Times.

--”The lack of communication has planted seeds for miscalculation, [former JCS Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen] argued. And miscalculations often lead to dangerous escalations...Talking to the Iranians is not guaranteed to resolve the fundamental issues that have created this dangerous atmosphere. But it might ensure that in the midst of the barking, there isn't an accidental bite.” http://owl.li/6LNoB

Prospects for missile defense cooperation by May - “I am convinced that by the next NATO summit, which will be held in Chicago in 2012, we will have already got a Russian-NATO agreement on the missile defense,” said U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle in an interview with Kommersant.

--”The Ambassador said the information exchange system will include an exchange of technology as well as two command centers aimed at tracking missile launches all over the world and analyzing possible threats,” reports RIA Novosti. http://owl.li/6LNwP

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Doubling down an unwise bet? - Ken Pollack and Ray Takeyh have an article in The Washington Quarterly calling for the U.S. to “double down” on Iran with coercive efforts to destabilize the regime. “The inconsistent policy prescribed by Pollack and Takeyh (and followed by Washington for many years) is probably the worst possible approach,” writes Stephen Walt in Foreign Policy.

--”By falsely portraying the United States has having made numerous generous offers, by dismissing Iran's security concerns as unfounded reflections of innate suspiciousness or radical ideology, and by prescribing a course of action that hasn't worked in the past and is likely to fail now, Pollack and Takeyh may be setting the stage for a future article where they admit that "doubling down" didn't work, and then tell us -- with great reluctance, of course -- that we have no choice but to go to war again.” http://owl.li/6LNqk

--EW Department of Marketing: If you want an Iran strategy to sound appetizing, don’t name it after a bunless KFC sandwich.

Event -”Taking Stock of Iran's Nuclear Program: What Does it Mean, and What are the Implications?” with David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security. This Friday, 9:30 - 11:00, at George Washington University. Event details and RSVP here: http://owl.li/6LQaL

Nuclear commitment “fades” into budget processes - The Obama administration has committed to keeping the U.S. nuclear arsenal safe, reliable, and secure - proposed spending some $200 billion over ten years toward that goal. As defense procurement timelines move at their naturally slow pace and appropriators from both houses trim the president’s budget requests, Mark Schneider takes to the Weekly Standard to infer that these events indicate a fading commitment to nuclear modernization and the White House is at fault. http://owl.li/6LNtc

Setting the record straight on New START - The assessment of New START in a recent Washington Post op-ed is flawed, writes Greg Thielmann in a letter to the editor. ”New START was a win for both sides. It provided a mechanism for significantly reducing nuclear arms in a stabilizing manner. It created a verification regime essential for restoring U.S. confidence in its ability to monitor Russian strategic forces developments, but it was streamlined to lower the costs of implementation for the parties.” http://owl.li/6LOus

NATO Deterrence Review - NATO’s deterrence and defense posture review, the topic of the spring summit in Chicago, is already under way, reports Oliver Meier. The North Atlantic Council has agreed on the process that will guide the review, but disagreements remain, including whether to revise NATO’s nuclear posture to bring it in line with the revised U.S. and British declaratory policies. http://owl.li/6LNiX

Is Iran Ready to Compromise? - Iran has made a number of offers recently that may signal new willingness to compromise on its nuclear program. Whether or not the offers are sincere, “it’s better to talk than not to talk, and so far the Obama administration hasn’t pushed very hard to break the diplomatic stalemate,” argues Robert Dreyfuss in The Diplomat. http://owl.li/6LNds

South Korea on the Fence: Nukes or No Nukes? - North Korea’s nuclear posturing and deteriorating relations with the U.S. have some conservative South Koreans revisiting the idea of developing nuclear weapons. If the government bends to conservative demands, “the prospect for peace and stability on a nuclear weapons-free peninsula will be bleak,” writes Byong Chul Lee. http://owl.li/6LNas

Same Putin, Different Context - “Back in 2006, a title such as "Vladimir the Lucky" was apt enough, considering the favorable external climate Putin enjoyed as Russia's president. Come 2012, however, he will need a lot more than luck to grow Russia's power and influence,” writes Andrew Kuchins in Foreign Affairs. http://owl.li/6LMUp