Flynt Leverett


Flynt Leverett, former Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council, discusses Iran’s threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, as a response to sanctions that may eventually cut off Iran’s oil exports; why the US and Israel don’t really have a problem with Iranian nuclear weapons, just Iran’s refusal to submit to US regional hegemony; Israel’s “red line” on Iran’s uranium enrichment at Qom; why US foreign policy planners don’t learn from prior mistakes (because superpowers don’t have to); and why waging war with borrowed money is a sure sign of a declining empire.

MP3 here. (25:23)

Flynt Leverett runs The Race For Iran blog and teaches at Pennsylvania State University’s School of International Affairs. Additionally, he directs the Iran Project at the New America Foundation, where he is a Senior Research Fellow.

Dr. Leverett is a leading authority on the Middle East and Persian Gulf, U.S. foreign policy, and global energy affairs. From 1992 to 2003, he had a distinguished career in the U.S. government, serving as Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council, on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, and as a CIA Senior Analyst. He left the George W. Bush Administration and government service in 2003 because of disagreements about Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror.

Dr. Leverett’s 2006 monograph, Dealing With Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran, presented the seminal argument for a U.S.-Iranian “grand bargain”, an idea that he has developed in multiple articles and Op Eds in The New York Times, The National Interest, POLITICO, Salon, Washington Monthly, and the New America Foundation’s “Big Ideas for a New America” series.

17 thoughts on “Flynt Leverett”


    Empire USA would turn all its nuclear warheads into paper tigers, if it were to suffer the unbearable humiliation of allowing Iran to block the Strait of Hormuz — such that no oil tanker of an anti-Iran nation could sail the Strait of Hormuz. Can you imagine, $5 a gallon gas at the pump?

    Whereas, if Iran were NOT to block the Strait of Hormuz, instead did nothing to stop the new sanctions that create a criminal monopoly in the market oil, this would bankrupt Iran’s economy and in short order so embolden our god-ego Empire that it would bomb Iran back to the stone age.

    Therefore, gutless wonder USA will cower back in a weak and helpless stupor. That’s what I always say.

  2. Empire builders — Do they have a choice?

    For when 60% of the crude oil America consumes is poured down a black hole called the military, do we have any choice but to expand our monopoly on Middle-East oil?

    What with Iran and Venezuela being the only two oil rich nations not in full support of our Empire being god-king over worldwide oil, they being the danger of a good example that could spark a rebellion, do we have any choice but to bomb – invade – occupy such an evil duo?

    Our self-absorbed voting majority that owns all the wealth plundered by Empire USA since 1945, our 51% most aggressive and wealthy, do they not love things just the way they are?

  3. In THE RECORD OF THE PAPER, Howard Friel and Richard Falk criticized the Times and the US media in general for their "refusal to consider international law arguments opposing recourse to and the conduct of war by American political leaders, and by this refusal allowing the citizenry to overlook this essential dimension of controversial foreign policy decisions. This refusal reinforces an increasingly passive US Congress that has been derelict in upholding its constitutional role in the area of war and peace…"
    Will mainstream in the US repeat the same mistake? May be can do something. Can you have someone explaining the legal aspect of foreign war?

  4. The only 'crime' Iran is guilty of is that it defies American hegemony. Iran has this weird idea it should do what it wants and not what America tells it to do. This heresy must be exterminated.

  5. Scott,
    I appreciate all the podcasts. But where is the moral argument? I say Iran has as much right to nuclear weapons as Israel, if not more. I lose patience with all the evidence that this or that policy is or is not in 'our national interest'. I was saying the same thing regarding Iraq's possession or non-possession of 'WMD'. I contend that what is in the national interest is a moral foreign policy. Those who are energized with the plight of oppressed nations or peoples should be able to organize private citiizens to engage on one side or the other. I would never have approved of the so-called 'Lincoln Brigades' and their support of the Communists in the Spanish Civil War, but they had every right to do what they felt was the right thing. We were attacked on 9/11 as a result of immoral foreign policies, chief of which was our unconditional support of Israel. There is a lot more to be said, but for now, as I see it, a moral foreign policy would be basically not to take sides in conflicts between other nations. The only purpose of the military should be to defend the US from attacks on our own country.

    1. It should just be based on interests not morality. A "moral" foreign policy leads to blackhawk down and would have the USA in Rwanda. A best interests F.P. would not. It is not so much the immorality of our supporting Israel, simply that it is not in our best interests. We gain nothing from it and make enemies of the Arab world, and to lesser extent, muslims in general. The PROBLEM is that American F.P. is controlled by ethnic lobby groups, the M.I.C., etc.

  6. If you go to Occidental Observer and READ–you will see why all of this is happening. It is the most profound, scientific website on the web.

  7. Iran’s Strait of Hormuz — Egypt’s Suez Canal

    Both the Strait and the Canal are International waterways, also both are territorial waters owned by one nation alone, so should they not have the same rights?

    Clearly an act of war is it for Western nations to be so criminal as to create a monopoly on world oil markets that attempt to destroy the economy of Iran. So, does not Iran have the same right as Egypt to keep such war enemies out of their nation and outside their international borders?

    The ones most harmed by a blockade of Iran’s Strait of Hormuz, they are the multinational corporations that in their corruption rule over the criminal nations who sanction Iran’s economy toward bankrupts. So, do not such corporate terrorists have only themselves to blame?

    And the Western criminal nations with their criminal sanctions, are they not the NATO nations who own most of the A-bombs now loaded and ready to fire? For it is common horse sense, that no nation should have the bomb or all nations should have at least one A-bomb — loaded and ready to fire.

  8. Iran’s nuclear program — Salvation from extinction

    For bombed back to the stone age would Iran now be, if it had not the brilliance and wisdom to see how perfect a move it was to get out of harm’s way.

    Iran started its nuclear program after sanctions were first imposed on its economy, for if Iran had done nothing in self-defense, all the pro-Iran nations the world over would have said, “Iran our friend, if you have not the courage to defend yourself, what burden to we have to fight you battles?”

    And if Iran went for the A-bomb, surely it would have lost the moral high ground, would have been disowned by all the nations now organizing against nuclear weapons, and it having only two or three A-bombs would have changed nothing in the balance of military might.

  9. No judges, no exec, no legislative branch either? WTF? Nice going, SH, you made Porter disown your gratuitous over-the-top rant anti-gov't rant. Now I can hardly remember why I wanted to comment in the first place. Sure would be nice, if I could hear my favorite reporters without having to put up with ideological tripe like that. It should go without saying that it's the belief systems of the ordinary people who embody government, not that we try to organize to solve shared problems, that materialize–literally put into material form–our world of hurt.

    Now I remember: how 'bout some historical context on CIA-sponsored efforts to propagandize and PSYOP us? Why use euphemisms like 'serial fabricator' and 'crackpot,' when I presume you both to be better informed about domestic PSYOP than that? How many effing PSYOP in an effing row will it take, over the course of effing decades now, for reporters and hosts to learn to call PSYOP PSYOP? Why not use the term given these efforts by the perverse public servants who weaponize rhetoric and turn it against for an effing living? Namely, PSYOP. See how succinct that is?

    The learning curve, for spotting and calling out PSYOP, seems to have flat-lined, if it ever got off the ground. Sibel Edmonds is a notable exception. She doesn't shy away from calling PSYOP PSYOP.
    Pepe Escobar is another who calls them out. Why don't more? Is using that five-letter term, PSYOP, some sort of journalistic third rail? Is this cohort of journalists just too set in their ways to learn to say that the government is actively manipulating public opinion?

    Whatever, figger it the eff out already! What, shall we wait for the actual bullets before saying we're under attack? The PSYOP *are* the effing attack. It was PSYOP, not tanks in the street, that jacked us to war in Iraq, right? In my pissed off opinion, calling these attacks by euphemisms ain't effing helping.

    Where's the effing urgency? I suspect we don't treat PSYOP attacks as attacks for the same reasons we don't think mental illness is really illness. It's just psychology, not really as real as physics, right? News flash: words jack us to war, not soldiers with guns at our doors. Words can, and do, reliably and repeatedly kill. Wordsmiths, of all people, should get that.

    Let's sound the alarm already! Stop waiting for kinetic actions to say we're under violent assault from our own forces, armed and otherwise. And for the love of the republic, stop using euphemisms like crackpot for psy operators. It's a dismissive term for people who need no further examination, right? "Crackpot! Dismissed." Yet these crackpots are "ex" CIA executing an obvious PSYOP. Remember John Stockwell? He used to say, "Any number of staged events will do." Another effing news flash: CIA et al have been active here at home from day one. Please, I implore you to work that into your narratives.

    As we all know, only fools so vastly underestimate their adversaries as not to examine them at all.

  10. Bottom Line – If Israel is worried so much about an Iran with nuclear weapons, would Israel be willing to give up their nuclear arsenal in exchange for America's promise to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, also? As they say in New York City "Fuggetaboutit"!

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