Bipartisan Policy Center

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Funded to the tune of over 23 million in 2009 from donors including the Rockefeller Foundation, Shell, Chevron, and PhRMA,[1] the Bipartisan Policy Center "is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2007 by former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell."[2] It claims to act "as an incubator for policy efforts that engage top political figures, advocates, academics and business leaders in the art of principled compromise." In contrast to its stated desire "to develop policy solutions that make sense for the nation" that "can be embraced by both sides of the aisle,"[2] the BPC has been described by some analysts as "ultra-hawkish" due to its foreign policy recommendations.[3] According to veteran investigative journalist Robert Dreyfuss, in this regard the BPC is "a collection of neoconservatives, hawks, and neoliberal interventionists and it "is currently campaigning for military action against Iran."[4]

Target Iran

The Roadmap to War with Iran

In 2008 the BPC released a task force report believed to be mainly authored by Makovsky and Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute[5] titled "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development"[6] which offered analysis on Iran's nuclear program and recommendations for strategic US policy response. It has been characterized by some analysts as a "Roadmap to war with Iran."[5][7] The report's listed authors included Dennis Ross and the Hudson Institute's Kenneth Weinstein. It is important to note that all the listed authors have expressed hawkish views on the US's Iran policy. Since its release the report has been updated and released in 2009 and 2010 and its main claims and recommendations have been repeatedly cited as evidence by analysts expressing hawkish views on the US's Iran policy in the mainstream press, including in op-eds written by the report's authors in well-known publications such as the Washington Post.

"Meeting the Challenge" Updated in 2009

"Meeting the Challenge" Updated in 2010

References to "Meeting the Challenge" in the News

As summarized by BPC task force members Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald in 2010, their report offers "a triple-track strategy that involves the simultaneous pursuit of diplomacy; sanctions; and visible, credible military readiness activity."[8] Robb and Wald (who incorrectly argued along with Daniel R. Coats in 2009 that Iran would be able to produce a nuclear weapon in 2010)[9] again repeat the claim that Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon within a year and push for the military option in response.[8] They add:

Contrary to a growing number of voices in Washington, we do not believe a nuclear weapons-capable Iran could be contained. Instead, it would set off a proliferation cascade across the Middle East, and Iran would gain the ability to transfer nuclear materials to its terrorist allies...An even more likely scenario, however, is that Israel would first attack Iranian nuclear facilities, triggering retaliatory strikes by Iran and its terrorist proxies. This would put the United States in an extremely difficult position. If we remained neutral in such a conflict, it would only invigorate Tehran, antagonize our regional allies and lead to greater conflict...Sanctions can be effective only if coupled with open preparation for the military option as a last resort. Indeed, publicly playing down potential military options has weakened our leverage with Tehran, making a peaceful resolution less likely.[8]

Journalist and analyst Ali Gharib accordingly observes that "from the neocon perspective, diplomacy and sanctions appear to be mere checklist items on the real agenda of a campaign to bomb Iranian nuclear sites and, perhaps not that much further down the list, a wider campaign aimed at regime change."[10]

Robert Dreyfuss also argues that

it’s important to note that the report prominently cites Dennis Ross, currently “Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for the Central Region, National Security Council,” as one of the “original task force members” of the BPC’s bomb-Iran planning group. Ross, who’s been keeping a low profile, is the inside man for the neoconservatives in the Obama administration...It’s not the first time that the BPC has issued a war-mongering report on Iran. Its first was issued in September, 2008, and that report was signed by Dennis Ross. A second report, similar to the first, was released in September, 2009.[4]

In May 2009 an article written by Makovsky and Ed Morse was published in the New Republic that "essentially says that AIPAC and other components of the lobby — such as Joe Lieberman, who published a new op-ed promoting the bill in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal — are wasting their time and should be pushing stronger measures now."[3] Daniel Luban and Jim Lope of IPS point out that Makovsky and Morse admit that sanctions on Iran won't work so they can push for a "naval blockade" instead.[3] The article repeats claims from "Meeting the Challenge". Write Makovsky and Morse:

Placing aside the issue that the U.S. government has not consistently and aggressively enforced the current iteration of the Iran Sanctions Act, ramping it up to limit Iran's gasoline imports is unlikely to have a significant impact on the country...Moreover, with so many gasoline suppliers in the world--including Russia and China, over which the United States has limited leverage--it would be difficult to enforce any embargo short of a military-backed blockade...If the United States is committed to using an energy lever, the only effective one available is to deploy a naval blockade to interdict Iran's gasoline imports, and possibly its oil exports. Since this would be tantamount to an act of war, it should only be initiated by the United States and its allies after diplomacy and financial sanctions have failed, as a last measure short of a military strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.[11]

In September 2010 former George W. Bush National Security Advisor Juan C. Zarate also cited the BPC report as supporting evidence for his military option claim in the National Review. According to Zarate: "We should pursue our Iran policy on three separate tracks simultaneously" and he references the BPC report as the last point in his article:

Maintain a credible military option, as the Bipartisan Policy Center has recently recommended. This will keep the possibility of force in the mind of the Iranian regime and reassure our allies. Credible demonstrations of U.S. military reach, such as naval exercises, become important as we push the international community to take more difficult steps — and perhaps ask the Israelis not to attack Iranian nuclear sites.[12]

Key Personnel




1225 I Street, NW Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005



  1. BPC, 2009 Annual Report, Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed on 29 November 2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 BPC, "About", Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed on 27 November 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Daniel Luban and Jim Lobe, "Shortcut On The Roadmap To War", Lobe Log, 1 June 2009
  4. 4.0 4.1 Robert Dreyfuss, Hawks, UAE Ambassador Want War with Iran , The Nation, 9 July 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jim Lobe, "Top Obama Adviser Signs On To Roadmap To War With Iran", IPS, 23 October 2008
  6. BPC, "Meeting the Challenge: U.S. Policy Toward Iranian Nuclear Development", Bipartisan Policy Center, September 2008
  7. Jim Lobe, "Accelerated Roadmap To War", Lobe Log, 9 September 2009
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Charles S. Robb and Charles Wald, "Sanctions alone won't work on Iran", Washington Post, 9 July 2010
  9. Daniel R. Coats, Charles S. Robb and Charles F. Wald, "Last Chance for Iran", Washington Post, 21 September 2010
  10. Ali Gharib, "Rubin Wants To “Forget The ‘Peace Process’” And Bomb Iran Already", Lobe Log, 16 September 2010
  11. Ed Morse and Michael Makovsky, "Morse and Makovsky: Over a Barrel: Why Congress's sanctions against Iran won't work", Bipartisan Policy Center, 29 May 2009, accessed on 26 November 2010
  12. Juan C. Zarate, "Beyond Sanctions", National Review Online, 20 September 2010
  13. BPC, "Jason Grumet", Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed on 29 November 2010
  14. BPC, "Michael Makovsky", Bipartisan Policy Center, accessed on 29 November 2010