Iraq will test next leader, professor says

A foreign policy expert said at the Elliott School of International Affairs Thursday night that withdrawing from Iraq will be one of the greatest challenges facing the next president.

William Quandt, a Welling professor at GW and a professor at the University of Virginia, repeatedly emphasized that reshaping America foreign policy is crucial for the next administration.

“We are still deeply involved in Iraq,” Quandt said. “The new president is going to have to think about how we begin the withdrawal process in a reasonable way, in a responsible way.”

Quandt, who spoke to 80 students on behalf of the Institute for Middle East Studies, said presidential nominees Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and John McCain, R-Ariz., have surrounded themselves with a two-year campaign full of international policy rhetoric. He said whoever gets elected needs to have concrete actions.

“The president-elect, whether it is Barack Obama or John McCain, must surround himself with good advisers and be ready to face these issues,” Quandt said. “The president-elect cannot live off campaign rhetoric and bumper sticker slogans.”

His lecture, “Middle East Challenges Facing the Next Administration,” stressed the importance of developing a sound policy for dealing with Afghanistan, the Iraq War, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The Middle East is a dynamic region, and we cannot go on autopilot when addressing these issues,” Quandt said. “A temperature check is necessary in order for nations to analyze the current situation, especially after upcoming elections in Iraq and in Israel.”

Quant said the next president must have a hard-line approach, especially when dealing with Iran.

“Policy with Iran has not been seriously discussed yet,” Quandt said. “The next president is going to have to think about talking to Iran. We have to convey to the Iranian government that regime change is no longer the policy of the United States.”

Senior Sarah Shalash said Quandt’s speech pointed out several real-world issues.

“I thought Dr. Quandt’s speech was great,” Shalash said. “He is very practical, and his thoughts are tangible. He raised unique points about ways to implement democratization in the Middle East.”

Michael Day, a graduate student in the Elliott School, said the lecture was informative and similar to the professor’s writings.

“Dr. Quandt’s lecture was fantastic,” he said. “I have read articles he has written about the Middle East and enjoy hearing him speak.”

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