< Distinguished speaker series

Trita Parsi, Ph.D.

Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute

America and the Middle East: Marriage on the Rocks

DATE: March 14, 2023 6:00 pm

Event information

Trita Parsi is the Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington think tank he co-founded in 2019 with support from both ends of the political spectrum: liberal-leaning George Soros and conservative-leaning Charles Koch Institute.

A well-known critic of the U.S. reliance on military coercion in the Middle East, he decries the “endless wars” in the region.

Since the First Gulf War, he notes, the United States has kept a large military force in the Middle East, distributed among roughly 20 military bases. America’s de facto military dominance of the Middle East has been justified as protecting the flow of oil, preventing regional chaos, defeating terrorism and preventing Russia or China from controlling the region’s resources.

But, he asks, has America’s military dominance stabilized the region? Does an energy-independent America need to protect the oil of the Persian Gulf? Will China take over the region if America brings its troops home? Is the cost – endless wars in the Middle East – worth it? Can America achieve its vital interests more efficiently through another strategy?

In Ukraine, he says America’s current course increases the risks of a war with Russia and adds to the possibility of a Russia-Iran-China alliance. At the present rate of destruction, “there won’t be anything left of Ukraine,” he told a Harvard Kennedy School forum on Feb. 24. And he urges the startup of back-channel discussions so each side can feel out the other’s positions. “Russia has already lost. What is the value of letting it go on for years and years?”

His colleague, Andrew Bachevich, co-founder of Quincy and its current board Chairman, goes further. He says the money the U.S. is spending on Ukraine should be used to alleviate climate change, to deal with the crisis on America’s southern border and to improve the lot of working-class Americans. Russia should be “someone else’s problem,” he writes in the lead essay of this month’s Foreign Affairs. He would turn the U.S. military into a force “designed to protect the American people rather than serve as an instrument of global power projection.” He’d also shut down the regional military headquarters, starting with the U.S. Central Command for the Middle East. He’d cut the military footprint abroad and cap U.S. military spending at 2 per cent of GDP.

The stance of the leadership of the Quincy Institute differs 180 degrees from that of our last speaker.  Robert Kagan, you’ll recall, argued that America should impose its military, economic, political and ideological preferences on the world, for without that hegemony, world order will break down as it did in the period before the two World Wars of the 20th century.

Trita Parsi is well known as an expert on US-Iranian relations, Iranian foreign policy and the geopolitics of the Middle East. His first book, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States (Yale, 2007), won the silver medal of the Arthur Ross Book Award from the Council on Foreign relations. A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (Yale 2012) was selected by Foreign Affairs as the best book of 2012 on the Middle East. His latest book, Losing the Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy (Yale 2017) reveals the behind the scenes story of the Iran nuclear deal.

He was the 2010 winner of the Grawemeyer Award for ideas on improving World Order. He was named by the Washingtonian Magazine one of the 25 most influential voices on foreign policy in Washington in 2021 and 2022. Writer Noam Chomsky calls Dr. Parsi “one of the most distinguished scholars on Iran.”

Parsi was born in Iran but moved with his family at age four to Sweden to escape political repression. His father was an outspoken academic who was jailed by the Shah and then by the Ayatollahs. He moved to the U.S. as an adult and studied foreign policy at SAIS, where he received a Ph.D. under Francis Fukuyama and the late Zbigniew Brzezinski.

He teaches at Georgetown University. He is fluent in Farsi, English and Swedish.

Background

Executive Vice President of the Quincy Institute,  this page gives Parsi’s biography, including his published works, early life, past experiences, and education. Because of these experiences, Parsi thoroughly understands Middle East politics. Due to his work on Capitol Hill and the United Nations, he is often ‘consulted by Western and Asian governments on foreign policy matters.’ 

  • A convenient aspect of this page is the articles and interviews that are included are either written by or include the opinion of Trita Parsi. Recent works include:

Iran 2023:

Isolated Iran finds ally China reluctant to extend it a lifeline

How the E.U. Blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Could Undermine Protesters

Middle East 2023:

On Blinken’s Trip to Israel

On Israel’s Drone Strikes on Iran

Ukraine War 2023:

No, Weakening Russia is Not “Costing Peanuts” for the U.S.

What is the Quincy Institute?

The Quincy Institute is a research organization that often exposes militarized American foreign policy and its effects on the rest of the world. The researchers at the Quincy Institute also aim to come up with other solutions or alternative approaches that promote the resolution of global issues.   

  • Mission: “The Quincy Institute promotes ideas that move the U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.”
  • Vision: “A world where peace is the norm and war is the exemption.”

July 2022:

Trita Parsi responds to Biden’s new sanctions against Iran through the Quincy Institute 

Trita Parsi Website:

Trita Parsi also has his own website. The page emphasizes his background but also has his books, op-eds, media, and contact information. You can find accomplishments and experiences on his site as well. 

  • To get more involved, you are able to sign up for his mailing list newsletter!

Some of the latest OP-EDS:

Books by Trita Parsi 

  • Treacherous Alliance – The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the US (2007)
  • A Single Roll of the Dice – Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (January 2012)

*Foreign Affairs selected this book as the Best Book of 2012 on the Middle East!

  • Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy (August 2017)

Extra in Media:

Parsi is involved in a documentary called Shadow World that premiered in November 2017. It is based on “shocking realities of the billion-dollar global arms trade through those who perpetrate and investigate it.” 

About the Documentary 

NIAC Council:

Trita Parsi is the founder of the NIAC Council. The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2002 to give a voice to the Iranian American community. The site not only shows the work they have done but also how supporters can get involved. 

  • There is also a coordinating organization called the NIAC Action PAC which supports Iranian American candidates and allies who will champion the legislative priorities and interests of NIAC Action and our members. 
  • Included on the NIAC website is an “Action Hub” where advocates and members have the ability to act digitally to work with the NIAC. 

Interviews with Parsi through the Choices Program:

The Choices Program goes into the background of Trita Parsi and also goes into articles he has published and how he has been integrated into their programs. 

 Top Videos with Trita Parsi 2013/2014:

Social Media Presence:

Parsi Twitter Page 

Twitter page of Trita Parsi. He frequently posts his reactions and opinions to articles and breaking news. This provides a more recent account of his thoughts. 

Recent posts:

Opinion on sanctions: The Dollar Still Dominates Feb 21, 2023

War in Ukraine: Report Card on Ukraine War Tweeted by Parsi Feb 24, 2023

Opinion on an article: What the War in Ukraine has truly Taught us Feb 24, 2023

Through his Twitter platform, Parsi easily shares his own articles and his opinions with the entire world on a real-time basis. Using technology and social media not only spreads news faster but can also draw the attention of the younger generation which is considerably impactful. Twitter is an efficient and popular way to advocate and or inform. 

Other Media: