Open to Debate and the Council on Foreign Relations Taping Iran Debate January 25, In-Person in DC and Online

January 22, 2024

National Security Council and State Department veterans debate Biden’s diplomacy, Israel’s reaction, and whether Iran poses a threat to the global order


On January 25, nonpartisan debate series Open to Debate (formerly known as Intelligence Squared U.S.) in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations is taking a closer look at Iran in a post-October 7th world. Its presence in the Middle East—and on the world stage—is growing stronger, many say, given its nuclear ambitions and its ability to fund terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including Hamas and most recently disrupting shipping in the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Its regional dominance is expanding, but is it also emerging as a global threat as it aligns with other authoritarian regimes?

The “Unresolved: The Iran Threat” debate will use Open to Debate’s Unresolved format, where debaters will debate three different questions, and partnerships and alliances can change depending on which position each debater takes. The three questions will be:

1) Has Biden’s Iran Diplomacy Failed?

2) Can Israel Live with a Nuclear Iran?

3) Does Iran Pose a Threat to the Global Order?

Debating these will be Michael Doran, who while at the National Security Council, State Department, and Pentagon helped to devise and coordinate U.S. strategy on a variety of Middle East issues, including Arab-Israeli relations and U.S. efforts to contain Iran and Syria; Barbara Slavin, former director of the Future of Iran Initiative now a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center; and Ray Takeyh, the Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations who has served as a senior advisor on Iran at the State Department.

The debate will tape in front of an invite-only audience on January 25, 2024 at the Council on Foreign Relations’ office in Washington D.C. and will be offered virtually via Zoom for invitees who cannot attend in-person. Media can email for virtual access.



* Michael Doran: Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East at the Hudson Institute

Michael Doran is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., where he specializes in Middle East security issues and co-hosts the foreign policy-focused “Counterbalance” podcast. Doran previously served as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and was a senior director on the National Security Council where he was responsible for helping to devise and coordinate U.S. strategy on a variety of Middle East issues, including Arab-Israeli relations and U.S. efforts to contain Iran and Syria. He also served as a senior advisor in the State Department and was a deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Pentagon. Doran has testified before Congress, written two books, “Ike’s Gamble: America’s Rise to Dominance in the Middle East” and “Pan-Arabism Before Nasser: Egyptian Power Politics And The Palestine Question”, and published articles in Foreign Affairs, the American Interest, Commentary, Mosaic, the Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

* Barbara Slavin: Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center

Barbara Slavin is a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center, where she is an expert on the Middle East & North Africa. She is also a lecturer in international affairs at George Washington University. Before joining the Stimson Center, she was director of the Future of Iran Initiative and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. She is the author of “Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S., and the Twisted Path to Confrontation.” She is a regular commentator on U.S. foreign policy and Iran on NPR, PBS, and C-SPAN. Previously, Slavin served as a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Slavin is a former career journalist and previously wrote as a columnist for, the assistant managing editor for world and national security at The Washington Times, a senior diplomatic reporter for USA Today, the Cairo and Beijing correspondent for The Economist, and an editor at The New York Times Week in Review.

* Ray Takeyh: Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

Ray Takeyh is the Hasib J. Sabbagh senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). His area of specialization are Iran, U.S. foreign policy, and modern Middle East. Takeyh is, most recently, the author of “The Last Shah: America, Iran and the Fall of the Pahlavi Dynasty” and three other books, “Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs,” “Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic,” and “The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The US, Britain and Nasser’s Egypt, 1952-1957.” He is the co-author of “The Pragmatic Superpower: Winning the Cold War in the Middle East” and “Revolution & Aftermath: Forging a New Strategy toward Iran.” He has written more than three hundred articles and opinion pieces for various news outlets including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Foreign Affairs. Takeyh has testified more than twenty times in various congressional committees. Before joining CFR, he served as a senior advisor on Iran at the State Department, a fellow at Yale University, the Washington Institute of Near East Policy, and the Middle East Center at the University of California, Berkeley. He is on the editorial board of Survival: Global Politics and Strategy and Orbis: Journal of World Affairs. Takeyh has a doctorate in modern history from the University of Oxford.



Open to Debate addresses a fundamental problem in America: the extreme polarization of our nation and our politics. We are the nation’s only nonpartisan, debate-driven media organization dedicated to bringing multiple viewpoints together for a constructive, balanced, respectful exchange of ideas. Open to Debate is a platform for intellectually curious and open-minded people to engage with others holding opposing views on complex issues. We know debate works to find common ground: On average, 32% of the Open to Debate audience changes their mind on contentious topics after hearing a debate. That’s the power of debate done right, and at scale, it can change the direction we’re headed in America. Open to Debate is broadcast as a weekly public radio program, carried on NPR stations including WNYC (#1 in the nation). Open to Debate is made available as a podcast, video series, and digital platform, and records episodes with live audiences nationwide. Visit to become a member, access an archive of more than 220 debates, and attend live events.



The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. CFR takes no institutional positions on policy issues and has no affiliation with the U.S. government. All views expressed in its publications and on its website are the sole responsibility of the author or authors.


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