Cliff Kupchan

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When Iran’s president-elect Hassan Rouhani takes office on Aug. 3, he will probably bring moderation to at least some aspects of Iranian nuclear policy. It would be tragic if Rouhani’s ascent becomes yet another missed opportunity in the U.S.-Iran saga.

Rouhani was elected with a popular mandate to pursue centrist policies and ease the nuclear standoff. He has consistently called for more transparency in Iranian policy in order to show that Iran seeks nuclear energy and not an atomic bomb. He has called for a more prudent negotiating strategy. He has committed himself to improving Iran’s economy, and he recognizes that lifting the yoke of sanctions is important to achieving that goal.…  Seguir leyendo »

President-elect Vladimir Putin faces a thorny dilemma: He is averse to change, but now faces a political landscape that demands it. Although the protest last Saturday in Moscow was relatively small, dissatisfaction runs deep and Putin can’t return to business as usual. He needs to adapt but probably won’t — meaning that Russia is likely headed into a period of tumultuous and unpredictable politics.

Putin’s predicament stems from his own missteps as well as tectonic shifts in Russia’s political landscape. For roughly the past two years, Moscow elites have grumbled about his leadership — voicing concern about modest growth rates and rampant corruption.…  Seguir leyendo »