iOS app Android app

Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett
GET UPDATES FROM Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett
Flynt Leverett, professor of international affairs at Pennsylvania State University’s School of International Affairs, is the co-author of, Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Dr. Leverett is a leading authority on the Middle East and Persian Gulf, U.S. foreign policy, and global energy affairs. From 1992 to 2003, he had a distinguished career in the U.S. government, serving as Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council, on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, and as a CIA Senior Analyst. He left the George W. Bush Administration and government service in 2003 because of disagreements about Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror.

Dr. Leverett’s 2006 monograph, Dealing With Tehran: Assessing U.S. Diplomatic Options Toward Iran, presented the seminal argument for a U.S.-Iranian “grand bargain”, an idea that he has developed in multiple articles and Op Eds in The New York Times, The National Interest, POLITICO, Salon, Washington Monthly, and the New America Foundation’s “Big Ideas for a New America” series. He has been interviewed about Iran and its geopolitics on leading public affairs programs around the world, including Charlie Rose, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Empire and Riz Khan (Al Jazeera English), Viewpoint (Abu Dhabi Television), and Spotlight (Russia Today), as well as in leading publications such as Der Spiegel and Le Monde. Along with Hillary Mann Leverett, he was featured in the PBS Frontline documentary, “Showdown With Iran”, and profiled in Esquire magazine.

Dr. Leverett has spoken about U.S.-Iranian relations at foreign ministries and strategic research centers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. During 2006-2007, he was a visiting professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Leverett holds a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University and is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Hillary Mann Leverett
teaches U.S. foreign policy at American University, is CEO of STRATEGA, a political risk consultancy, and co-author of Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ms. Leverett has more than 20 years of academic, legal, business, diplomatic, and policy experience working on Middle Eastern issues. Most recently, she was Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Prior to that, she served for more than a decade in the U.S. government. In the George W. Bush Administration, she worked as Director for Iran, Afghanistan and Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council, Middle East expert on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, and Political Advisor for Middle East, Central Asian and African issues at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. From 2001-2003, she was one of a small number of U.S. diplomats authorized to negotiate with the Iranians over Afghanistan, al-Qa’ida and Iraq. In the Clinton Administration, Leverett also served as Political Advisor for Middle East, Central Asian and African issues for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, Associate Director for Near Eastern Affairs at the National Security Council, and Special Assistant to the Ambassador at the U.S. embassy in Cairo. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and a Watson Fellowship, and in 1990-1991 worked in the U.S. embassies in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt and Israel, and was part of the team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait after the first Gulf War.

Ms. Leverett has published extensively on Iran as well as on other Middle Eastern, Central and South Asian, and Russian issues. She has spoken about U.S.-Iranian relations at Harvard, MIT, the National Defense University, NYU, the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs, and major research centers in China. She has appeared on news and public affairs programs including Charlie Rose, BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Al Jazeera (Arabic and English), and was featured in the highly acclaimed BBC documentary, Iran and the West. Along with Flynt Leverett, she appeared in the PBS Frontline documentary, “Showdown With Iran”, and was profiled in Esquire magazine. She has provided expert testimony to the U.S. House Government Reform and Oversight Committee.

Ms. Leverett is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Brandeis University. She also studied at the American University in Cairo and Tel Aviv University.

They both blog at

Entries by Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett

Demanding What You Can't Get: Obama's Gamble With the Iran Talks in Vienna

(87) Comments | Posted July 10, 2015 | 5:07 PM

As nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Iran in Vienna extend past yet another (largely U.S.-imposed) deadline, the dysfunctionality of the Obama administration's approach becomes increasingly apparent. Since April, when the parties announced a set of "parameters" for a final deal, senior administration officials have staked out public positions on...

Read Post

Don't Compound the Damage Already Done in Iraq by Doubling Down in Syria

(5) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 10:22 PM

The debate over America's Middle East policy has reached a new level of surreality. In the wake of President Obama's West Point commencement address last month -- in which he pledged to "ramp up" U.S. support for Syrian rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad -- Washington elites are exhorting...

Read Post

Syria and the Waning of American Hegemony

(12) Comments | Posted August 30, 2013 | 2:07 PM

Once carried out, the Obama administration's thoroughly telegraphed strike on Syria, ostensibly over alleged chemical weapons use there, will mark an important inflection point in the terminal decline of America's Middle East empire. Most importantly, it will confirm that America's political class, including Obama himself, remains unwilling to face the...

Read Post

Rouhani's Inauguration, Iran's Political System, and America's Strategic Suicide in the Middle East

(32) Comments | Posted August 1, 2013 | 7:16 PM

As Hassan Rouhani approaches his inauguration this weekend, there is self-referential optimism in Western policy circles about what his accession might portend. A substantial quorum in these circles sees Rouhani as perhaps someone with whom the West -- to recall Margaret Thatcher's 1984 assessment of rising Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

Read Post

How Washington Should Engage Iran's New President

(93) Comments | Posted June 17, 2013 | 6:18 PM

Friday's presidential and local council elections in Iran show that the Islamic Republic is far more stable and politically dynamic than Western conventional wisdom commonly acknowledges. Moreover, the election of Hassan Rohani -- who headed the Islamic Republic's Supreme National Security Council for sixteen years and was Tehran's chief...

Read Post

Iran's Presidential Election Will Surprise America's So-called Iran 'Experts'

(101) Comments | Posted June 12, 2013 | 7:18 PM

This year's Iranian presidential election is likely to produce a strong political figure who will have a significant impact on the Islamic Republic's foreign and domestic policies, helping to ensure Iran's continued internal development and bolstering its regional importance. Yet every four years, a combustible mix of pro-Israel advocates, Iranian...

Read Post

What Failed Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran Will Mean

(4) Comments | Posted May 8, 2013 | 2:19 PM

To maintain the illusion of some prospect for progress in nuclear diplomacy with Tehran, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in Istanbul next week. Purportedly, Ashton will see if the P5+1 dialogue with Iran can be put back on...

Read Post

The Real Reason America Can't Make a Nuclear Deal with Iran

(43) Comments | Posted April 29, 2013 | 3:46 PM

The outlines of a nuclear deal between the P5+1 and Iran have long been obvious: Western recognition of Iran's nuclear rights in return for more intrusive monitoring and verification of Iranian nuclear facilities. With agreement so readily at hand, the Obama administration's refusal to take it is baffling to many...

Read Post

America's Looming Hangover in the Middle East

(44) Comments | Posted April 1, 2013 | 1:25 PM

Following President Obama's address to an audience of Israeli students in Jerusalem last week, progressive commentators in the United States hailed the speech as a passionate appeal for peace "that placed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict squarely back on his agenda." But those intoxicated by Obama's rhetoric will soon experience a...

Read Post

Obama's Choice: Real Diplomacy With Iran -- or War

(306) Comments | Posted March 22, 2013 | 10:24 AM

Contrary to conventional wishful thinking in American policy circles, developments in the nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 and the Iran-related messages coming out of President Obama's trip to Israel strongly suggest that the risk of a U.S.-initiated military confrontation with Tehran during Obama's second term are rising, not...

Read Post

Iran and the United States -- What Really Matters to Middle Eastern Publics?

(102) Comments | Posted March 6, 2013 | 3:37 PM

Addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's annual conference in Washington on Monday, Vice President Biden claimed that Iran is on the defensive in its own neighborhood: "When we came to office...Iran was on the ascendancy in the region. It is no longer on the ascendancy." In...

Read Post

The Coming Collapse of Iran Sanctions

(72) Comments | Posted February 25, 2013 | 10:13 AM

Western policymakers and commentators wrongly assume that sanctions will force Iranian concessions in nuclear talks that resume this week in Kazakhstan -- or perhaps even undermine the Islamic Republic's basic stability in advance of the next Iranian presidential election in June. Besides

Read Post

Liberal Shamelessness on Iran and Middle East

(121) Comments | Posted November 16, 2012 | 3:12 PM

As President Obama signaled renewed interest this week in a "diplomatic resolution to the problem" with Iran, liberal advocates of soft regime change are again coming out of the woodwork to profess their support for engaging Tehran. The New York Times' Roger Cohen published a column in this week,...

Read Post

Deep-Sixing the China Option

(63) Comments | Posted June 19, 2012 | 9:33 AM

How the Obama Administration Is Stalling Its Way to War with Iran 

Cross-posted with

Since talks with Iran over its nuclear development started up again in April, U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that Tehran will not be allowed to “play for time” in the...

Read Post

Libya, the United States, and Iran: Just Who Is "Meddling"?

(75) Comments | Posted March 6, 2011 | 4:21 PM

This week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama Administration officials complained publicly that Iran was "meddling" and "interfering" in events in the Middle East which are threatening the downfall of one U.S. ally after another. But the Obama Administration's response to the latest flashpoint -- Libya...

Read Post

Soros Is Wrong: The Isamic Republic of Iran Will Survive and Benefit From the Arab Awakening

(1) Comments | Posted February 24, 2011 | 9:52 AM

We take billionaire financier George Soros up the bet he proffered to CNN's Fareed Zakaria this week that "the Iranian regime will not be there in a year's time." In fact, we want to up the ante and wager that not only will the Islamic Republic still be Iran's government...

Read Post

Palin Beats War Drums, But Other Tea Partiers May Argue Against Obama's Slippery Slope to War With Iran

(150) Comments | Posted December 23, 2010 | 5:46 PM

Sarah Palin -- former governor of Alaska and Senator John McCain's running mate in the 2008 U.S. presidential election -- published an op-ed in USA Today, that takes the most fanciful neoconservative myths about the Islamic Republic and turns them into a tortured argument for "truly 'crippling' sanctions",...

Read Post

Listening Posts on Iran Produce the Same Sort of Bad Intel as Iraqi Defectors

(43) Comments | Posted December 10, 2010 | 9:18 AM

It seems like a bad Bush-era joke today that U.S. officials relied on information solicited from Iraqi defectors with code names like "curveball" to make their case for invading Iraq (and leaving at least 100,000 civilians dead). A significant portion of that information was funneled through the Defense Department's Office...

Read Post

Why Should Iran Trust President Obama?

(176) Comments | Posted December 3, 2010 | 12:13 PM

In the run-up to a new round of nuclear talks between the P5+1 and Iran on Monday, Western commentators are re-hashing old arguments that the Islamic Republic is either too politically divided or too dependent on hostility toward the United States for its legitimacy to be...

Read Post

Iran's "Soft Power" Increasingly Checks U.S. Power

(140) Comments | Posted October 15, 2010 | 10:51 AM

Twenty years ago, Harvard's Joseph Nye famously coined the term "soft power" to describe what he saw as an increasingly important factor in international politics -- the capacity of "getting others to want what you want", which he contrasted with the ability to coerce others through the exercise of "hard"...

Read Post