Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy by Kenneth Pollack

How close are we to a nuclear Iran? What does it mean for American foreign policy? How did we get to this point? And what do we do now?

In Unthinkable, Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst with twenty-five years of experience working on the Middle East, explores America’s intractable problem with Iran, Tehran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, and the pro­longed clash that led us to this point. Pollack lays out key solutions to the Iran nuclear ques­tion, explaining and assessing the options for American policymakers:

• Redoubling our efforts at a carrot-and-stick approach that combines negotiations and sanctions
• Aiding the Iranian opposition to bring about a popular form of regime change
• An Israeli military strike
• The American military option
• Containing a nuclear Iran

Insightful, powerful, and balanced in its approach, Unthinkable is one of the most thought­ful and important books on foreign policy in the past decade.

Kenneth M. Pollack is a well-known expert on the Middle East and Persian Gulf and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Charlie Rose, C-SPAN, and NPR. He is a senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Dr. Pollack earned his BA from Yale and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of seven other books on the political, military, and economic affairs of the Middle East, including The Threatening Storm and The Persian Puzzle.

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Kenneth M. Pollack: The U.S. Should Provide More Meaningful Benefits to the Iranians


Kenneth M. Pollack: The U.S. needs to tell the Iranians we are serious about a deal and we would lift the sanctions. The U.S. could even provide more meaningful benefits to the Iranians in return for their willingness to compromise on their nuclear program.

On February 19, 2013, the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings hosted a discussion to examine strategies for resolving the nuclear standoff. Panelists included former Ambassador Thomas Pickering, co-founder of The Iran Project, who presented the organization’s latest set of recommendations for addressing the nuclear issue, and Brookings Senior Fellow Kenneth Pollack. Senior Fellow Tamara Cofman Wittes, director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion.

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