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Iran Deal: Experts Available to Discuss President Obama’s Speech at American University

WHO: American University experts 

WHAT: Discussion and analysis before and after Iran Deal and foreign policy speech

WHEN: Aug. 4 - ongoing  

WHERE: Via telephone, email, in-studio, or at American University

Contact: American University Communications at 202-885-5950 or via e-mail at  

BACKGROUND: President Barack Obama will deliver a speech addressing a signature foreign policy achievement of his presidency, the Iran Deal, and foreign policy Wed., Aug. 5, from American University's School of International Service. The White House chose American University, because it is where President John F. Kennedy made his famous 1963 speech on nuclear disarmament and world peace. The following AU professors listed below are available for comment.

Foreign affairs, policy and Iran

James Goldgeier, dean of AU's School of International Service, served on the National Security Council Staff and at the State Department during the Clinton administration. Goldgeier specializes in U.S. national security issues and is an expert on the modern history of presidential foreign policy efforts. Goldgeier penned an opinion piece ( about J.F.K.'s strategy of peace speech at AU and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and can discuss similarities to Obama's speech.

Guy Ziv, School of International Service assistant professor of U.S. foreign policy, focuses on foreign policy decision-making and is the author of Why Hawks Become Doves: Shimon Peres and Foreign Policy Change in Israel.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, is among the world's leading experts on Islam, tribal Islam, and post-9/11 treatment of Muslims. Ahmed was the Pakistan High Commissioner (Ambassador) to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is the author of over a dozen award-winning books, including Discovering Islam, which was the basis of a six-part BBC TV series called "Living Islam";the critically acclaimed Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization;Suspended Somewhere Between, a book of verse;and Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

Pedram Partovi is an expert on modern Iranian history and can discuss how the Iran Deal addresses concerns of the international community while ensuring Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy. "To be sure, implementation of the deal will be a challenge. However, we cannot simply dismiss out of hand the efforts made over the past two years by the political leadership in Tehran to end the country's isolation as a cynical money-grab. ISIS, Sunni extremism, and growing sectarianism in the region, which Iranian policies in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere helped to nurture, have forced the leadership in Tehran to rethink their priorities (and even their revolutionary principles)."

Boaz Atzili, associate professor School of International Service, focuses his research on the politics of the Middle East.

David Mislan, assistant professor in SIS, teaches and writes on U.S. foreign policy with an emphasis on decision-making. Mislan can discuss how presidents perceive threats to national security.

Carola Weil joined AU in September 2012 as the inaugural dean of the newly established School of Professional and Extended Studies. A scholar of international affairs, armed conflict, and human security, she held teaching and research appointments in international relations and public diplomacy at USC, George Washington University, and the Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was senior program officer in the US Institute of Peace's grants and fellowship program and the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation's D.C. office. She can comment on foreign policy and public diplomacy.

Political communication and presidential history

Barbara Romzek, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at AU, is well-recognized in the world of public affairs for her expertise in the area of accountability. She can comment on how tracking accountability is critical to a deal that involves significant complexities and levels of trust.

Vicky M. Wilkins is the Senior Associate Dean in the School of Public Affairs and Professor of Public Administration and Policy at AU. Wilkins can comment on how Congressional members are working to understand the complex deal and sell it to their constituents. 

Patrick Griffin, director of the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute for the Center for Congressional & Presidential Studies, served as one of President Clinton's legislative directors. In the U.S. Senate, Griffin held the position of Secretary for the Democrats, and the positions of professional staff member on the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and the Senate Budget Committee. Griffin can discuss the political challenges of winning support from Congress and the American people for the Iran Deal.

Anita McBride, School of Public Affairs executive in residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, previously served as assistant to President George W. Bush and chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush. McBride supported Mrs. Bush's efforts involving U.S. foreign policy objectives in human rights, women's empowerment, global health and human freedom. McBride also served in the George H.W. Bush and Reagan administrations.

Allan Lichtman, distinguished professor of history, is an expert on the presidency, American political history, presidential campaigns, voting behavior, and public opinion. Lichtman, renowned for his "13 Keys" system, predicted in 2010 that President Obama would win a second term in 2012. Lichtman can discuss the impact that the Iran Deal will have on the presidential election for 2016.

Media, politics and speeches

Robert Lehrman, public communication professor, is a former chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore, is author of the book The Political Speechwriter's Companion: A Guide for Speakers and Writers. Lehrman also writes and speaks about politics and language. Lehrman is available to discuss political speech writing;past and present presidential speeches;and the effect speeches have in the polls.

Richard Benedetto, professor of journalism, served as a White House correspondent and columnist for USA Today and political columnist for Gannett News Service. Benedetto covered the White House from Reagan through George W. Bush and can speak to how U.S. Presidents use speeches during their terms of office.

Leonard Steinhorn, public communication professor, is an expert in American politics, culture and media, strategic communication, the presidency, and recent American history. He often serves as a political analyst for Fox 5 News in Washington, D.C.

Jane Hall, journalism and media studies professor, specializes in media and politics, particularly issues of special interest to young people, and popular culture. She is moderator and executive producer for the long-running American Forum radio and TV series in Washington, D.C., interviewing prominent newsmakers on WAMU public radio, NBC4 and at the Newseum. She is also a regular commentator on media and politics on cable TV and in print. Hall is available to discuss media coverage of the president and political messaging strategy.

Rhonda Zaharna, public communication professor, specializes in public diplomacy, intercultural and international strategic communication, with an emphasis on culture and communication in the Arab and Islamic regions. She has taught strategic communication for nearly 20 years, and advised on communication projects for multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, diplomatic missions, and international organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and USAID.