Center for American Progress

: Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy: Explaining U.S. Iran Policy
Past Event

Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy: Explaining U.S. Iran Policy

9:00 - 10:30 AM EDT

The newly released second edition of Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy provides the framework for an event at the Center for American Progress to discuss the conflict within the Bush administration over Iran.

With revelations about the struggle within the government over planning for the invasion of Iraq, rifts within the administration over the direction of U.S. foreign policy have filled the headlines. It is no secret that disagreements exist within governments. However, what appears to be a uniform U.S. policy is often the result of a struggle for influence and power within the bureaucracy that can produce varying and nuanced policies. First published more than thirty years ago, Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy remains the primer for understanding how the bureaucracy shapes U.S. foreign policy. In the new second edition, the authors have updated the book to include events from the last three decades as well as an analysis of the bureaucratic role of Congress in making foreign policy.

One of the headlines highlighting the schisms within the foreign policy community is the question over U.S. plans to conduct military strikes against Iran. Joined by nuclear nonproliferation expert Joe Cirincione and Ret. Lt. General Robert Gard, co-authors Morton H. Halperin and Priscilla Clapp will discuss the current debate over U.S. policy towards Iran through the bureaucratic prism. As the international community continues to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, another struggle to determine policy is occurring within the U.S. government. In order to understand how this policy will play out, we must understand how the bureaucracy interacts to shape policy. What interests do the various government agencies and departments perceive in formulating U.S. policy towards Iran? What are the views of the different military services? What interests are the State and Defense departments likely to have? Exploring answers to these questions will help paint a clearer picture of how U.S. policy towards Iran will be made and what that policy might be.

Joe Cirincione, Senior Vice President for National Security and International Policy, Center for American Progress
Priscilla Clapp, retired Minister-Counselor, U.S. Foreign Service
Lt. General Robert Gard (Ret.), Former President, National Defense University
Morton H. Halperin, Senior Fellow and Director of the Security and Peace Initiative, Center for American Progress