February 13, 2020

Wait Just a Minute: Kelly Magsamen on the Threat from Iran

Kelly Magsamen, former National Security Council director for Iran under US presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, takes a minute to answer questions on Iran, its proxies, and whether the United States should support anti-regime protests.

Wait Just a Minute: Kelly Magsamen on the Threat from Iran

Is Iran a threat to the United States?

Iran is certainly a destabilizing actor in the region. Whether or not it's an existential threat to the United States, no, and if you look at the broad swath of threats facing the United States, I would not say Iran is at the top of the list. Now, if they got a nuclear weapon, of course, that picture would change. Which is why the last administration focused so heavily on getting a nuclear deal with the Iranians.

How should the United States view Iran's proxies?

Iran uses its proxies as a way of deterring the United States, and dettering Israel, and deterring others from attacking it. They are outmatched conventionally by the United States, so this is how they work in the region to essentially advance their influence.

Should the United States support anti-regime protests in Iran?

I think the United States should stand for the universal rights for all people around the world. Whether or not regime change, or support for regime change, is something that should be a US policy objective, I don't think so. I think that's up to the Iranian people to decide.

What should Americans know about security at US embassies?

I think what Americans need to know is that there are thousands of US diplomats, defense civilians, intelligence professionals serving overseas to advance the interests of the United States, and it's incumbent upon the United States government to keep them safe.

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