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Policy Analysis

Policy Forum

Do U.S. Actions Affect Iranian Policy?

Stuart Eizenstat, Mehrangiz Kar, and Mehdi Khalaji

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November 8, 2018

A veteran U.S. policymaker and two notable Iranian expatriates look back at forty years of American relations with Iran to look for lessons from past administrations for advancing American interests and reducing bilateral antagonisms.


Four decades after the Iranian revolution, the question of how much foreign governments can actually shape the Islamic Republic’s political makeup and decisionmaking remains controversial. Unsurprisingly, Washington is still caught at the center of this controversy given its exceptionally antagonistic relations with Tehran. What lessons can be drawn from the role that past U.S. administrations played during and after the revolution? And what are the Trump administration’s interests, constraints, and capabilities with regard to the prospect of future regime change? To discuss these questions, The Washington Institute is pleased to host a Policy Forum with Stuart Eizenstat and Mehrangiz Kar.

Stuart Eizenstat has served in multiple Democratic administrations as special advisor on Holocaust issues (Obama); deputy secretary of the Treasury, undersecretary of state, and undersecretary of commerce (Clinton); and head of the Domestic Policy Council (Carter). His most recent book is the critically acclaimed President Carter: The White House Years (2018).

Mehrangiz Kar is an Iranian attorney, human rights activist, and author of Crossing the Red Line: The Struggle for Human Rights in Iran (2006).

Mehdi Khalaji, a Qom-trained Shiite theologian, is the Libitzky Family Fellow at The Washington Institute.

The Policy Forum series is made possible through the generosity of the Florence and Robert Kaufman Family.