Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

Raising the Stakes: The Need for a More Ambitious American Policy Towards Iran

Barbara Zanchetta

April 2010

Finnish Institute for International Affairs


The election of Barack Obama unleashed unprecedented hopes around the world for a renewed leadership of the United States. Due to the controversial foreign policy record of the previous presidency and because of Obama's widespread appeal, deriving from both his personal life story and from his exceptional oratory skills, the inauguration of the first African-American president seemed, indeed, to represent a new beginning. The President himself, after campaigning on a platform of change ("yes we can"), repeatedly underscored the notion of a renewed America in his Inaugural Address. Referring not only to the repercussions of the economic crisis but also to the US global role, Obama called for a "new era of responsibility." The United States, stated the President, "are ready to lead once again," but in a rapidly evolving world order in which responsibilities have to, necessarily, be shared.