Iran Policy Committee (IPC) is comprised of former officials from the White House, State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies, and experts from think tanks and universities.
The Advisory Council is a small body comprised of distinguished former government officials. The board of directors consults with the advisory council for broad guidance for the Iran policy committee.
The Advisory Council is chaired by General Thomas McInerney, former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force and Director of the Department of Defense Performance Review.
In addition to General McInerney, members of the Advisory Council include:
Co-chaired by General Edward Rowny, Major General Paul Vallely, and Captain Charles Nash, the Military Committee has the task of exploring the full complement of military alternatives upon which the Pentagon might need to draw, if the diplomatic options for dealing with Iran prove insufficient to deter the regime’s aggressive behavior. Proceeding from the premise that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, continuing support of terrorism, and destabilization of Iraq constitute a significant threat to the national security objectives of the United States, the Military Committee researches contingency operations that might be authorized by the President to defend American interests and preserve stability in the Middle East.
The Committee is working on an escalating series of choices that begin with least intrusive military options to more intrusive options. Options of less intensity include overflights of Iranian territory and assembly of potential target packages. Options of greater intensity include offensive operations, such as special operations, regime infrastructure sabotage, and selective assassination of regime leadership figures. Alternatives of even higher intensity include a blockade of key oil infrastructure facilities, aerial bombardment, or land force intrusion.
The Military Committee will not stop with an analysis of the viability of military options; rather, the committee plans to assess the wisdom for carrying out particular military options. In this respect, preliminary analysis reveals that there are military options regarding Iran, but that there are very few cost-effective military alternatives for Iran.
The book by the IPC, What Makes Tehran Tick, contains initial results of the Military Committee. This book concludes that there are U.S. military options for Iran, but none of them seems to be viable. In this respect, the Committee concludes that military options are far less preferable than political alternatives, such as empowering the Iranian people.
Chaired by Bruce McColm, the Empowerment Committee represents the sum total of the IPC mission as well as its most fundamental purpose: to support democratic change in Iran through empowerment of the Iranian people. As such, this Committee shall explore basic mechanisms of democratization, especially in a country that previously has known totalitarian repression.
An important segment of the Empowerment Committee’s academic research is an historical review of other national transitions from dictatorship to free society. One important question to be addressed is the efficacy or even requirement that a national liberation movement be supported strongly from the outside, and especially by some level of commitment from the international community. Another aspect of research for this Committee is collection and analysis of public opinion polls of Iranian popular opinion.
The long-time experience of Bruce McColm with democratization in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is especially well-suited to the work of the Empowerment Committee. He brings a wealth of understanding to issues ranging from establishment of the basic building blocks of civil society to encouragement of popular participation in self-governance at the grass roots level. The White Paper on how to bring democracy to Iran is projected to be issued in the late spring of 2008.
Chaired by Ambassador James Akins with the assistance of the late Paul Leventhal during a portion of the year 2006, the Diplomacy Committee is dedicated to exploring all aspects of negotiating alternatives available to the international community in general and the U.S. Government in particular. At issue is how diplomacy might be used to manage challenges and opportunities posed by Iran. Because diplomacy as a means for influencing the behavior of the Tehran regime already has been explored extensively by the European Three—(EU-3, comprising France, Germany, and the United Kingdom), the IPC believes it important to evaluate successes, failures, and future potential of this tool.
The diplomatic option, as viewed by the IPC, includes not only negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program, such as have been attempted by the EU- 3, but also the full range of policy levers at the disposal of nations, alliances, and international organizations. Negotiations form but the first tier of such policy tools, which may be expanded to include measures like stepped-up rhetoric and warnings of red lines; selective sanctions; on up to coercive diplomatic steps, including embargos, blockades, freezing and/or seizure of assets, assertive internal broadcasting, or even certain covert action operations.
The potential for diplomatic measures to achieve desired results in Iran (regime behavior modification) will be explored. By drawing on prior experiences of other democratic change efforts combined with specific analysis of the radical regime in Tehran, the IPC hopes to determine the potential for diplomatic measures in the case of Iran.
Academic scholarship of the most rigorous nature will guide the work of the Diplomacy Committee, with results to be published in forthcoming IPC White Papers. A tentative conclusion of the Committee is that empowering the Iranian people via the main Iranian opposition groups should reinforce diplomacy, while keeping in abeyance military options.
From its inception, the Iran Policy Committee (IPC) understood the multifaceted nature of the challenge posed by the regime in Tehran and determined to deal with it in a thorough and comprehensive way. To address the broad range of issues that the U.S. Government must consider at the strategic policy level, the IPC established a series of special task forces. Paul Leventhal, now deceased, founding president of the Nuclear Control Institute, headed the Nuclear Weapons Task Force. His aim was to produce a comprehensive overview of Iran’s nuclear weapons acquisition program and to make recommendations how to slow down the pace and eliminate the prospects for Iranian nuclear weapons acquisition.
Drawing on Leventhal’s extensive expertise in the nuclear field, he determined the alarming pace of progress Iran is making in enrichment of uranium, conversion of uranium to gas, and extraction of plutonium from spent nuclear fuel. Leventhal also analyzed the Iranian regime’s efforts to deceive the international community about its intentions. With the death of Leventhal, Professor Tanter chairs the Nuclear Weapons Task Force.
Professor Raymond Tanter also chairs a task force on the principal Iranian opposition movements, including the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK). This task force assembled compelling evidence that exposes the baseless nature of allegations leveled against the MEK over the years.Bruce McColm chairs the group’s task force on human rights and democratization in Iran. An early product of this task force found expression in the June 30, 2005 White Paper, U.S. Policy Options for Iran: Sham Elections, Disinformation Campaign, Human Rights Abuses and Regime Change. A second product of this task force is the Book Appeasing the Ayatollahs and suppressing democracy: US policy and the Iranian Opposition. The work of this task force, which includes a multimember team of academic researchers and analysts, is ongoing and is focused on a future IPC White Paper on how to bring democracy to Iran.
IPC co-Chair Captain Chuck Nash is chair of the task force dedicated to exploration of U.S. military options with regard to Iran; he also co-chairs the IPC Military Committee. With the advantage of his distinguished military career, Captain Nash brings to the task force a perspective based on solid experience and pragmatic considerations of national security and homeland defense. While some attention was given to military options in the first White Paper of the IPC, U.S. Policy Options for Iran, the issue has received expanded treatment in subsequent IPC publications, such as What Makes Tehran Tick.
Scholars and fellows at the IPC conduct research in close collaboration with Georgetown University. A goal is to produce policy-relevant knowledge that is methodologically sophisticated and hence empirically verifiable. Policy advocates often fail to give due attention to methodology; hence, their advocacy lacks an empirical base, and conclusions are not replicable.
On behalf of and under the supervision of the IPC, graduate and undergraduate students at Georgetown University collect statements and code events; they then use methods like content analysis, time series regression analysis, and event data analysis to make valid and reliable statistical inferences. In this respect, IPC policy recommendations are supported by modern methods.
With respect to information acquisition, Georgetown researchers independently code statements of national security policymakers in Iran, Israel, and the United States, conduct tests to ensure inter-coder reliability, and perform sensitivity analysis to assess how errors in definitions and coding might bias the results.
Some findings of the Georgetown research are in the book Appeasing the Ayatollahs and Suppressing Democracy as well as What makes Tehran Tick. See the discussion of the Iranian opposition for results of research using content analysis. The Georgetown University team collects statements of Iranian political-religious leaders reported in the press.
The team collects statements in English and in Farsi and categorizes them by targets, e.g., Iranian opposition groups, Israel, and/or the United States. Researchers use content analysis to count the frequency and infer the intensity scores of statements made by the Iranian leadership.
For the book, What makes Tehran Tick, researchers collected and coded statements made on or about Jerusalem Day, Embassy Takeover Day, and a control date, around May 1, each year. Every year on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, Iran and its supporters throughout the Muslim world observe Jerusalem Day. They express their aim “to liberate Jerusalem.” The first leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini instituted Jerusalem Day in 1979.