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It is with a heavy heart that we must pass along the news that Marvin passed away November 15th after a brief illness, and that this will be the last email you will receive from this list.

Marvin felt very lucky to have met so many of you in person, and to have had so many fascinating conversations as a result of these interactions.

Thank you for all your comments and feedback over the years.

Under President Trump, relations between Iran and the U.S. have never been worse. Trump has imposed new sanctions choking Iran and Iran has responded with renewed commitment to nuclear enrichment. President Biden is widely expected to commit to change this situation. But there are severe limitations to both Iran’s and the U.S.’s freedom of action.
——Marvin Zonis

This “Leader” from The Economist articulates a powerful case for the election of Joe Biden.
——Marvin Zonis

Breaking down socio-economic data by county in the U.S. allows a reliable election forecast.
——Marvin Zonis

Ambrose Bierce, an American journalist (1842-1914) said that “War was God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” Well, here’s another war and another geography lesson.

Nagorno Karabakh is an enclave entirely within the territory of Azerbaijan but inhabited by some 150,000 Armenians. Azerbaijan has exercised no control over the region since 1988 and the onrushing collapse of the Soviet Union. The two countries fought a war in 1994 and have been engaged in endless peace talks ever since.

Fighting broke out again in September 2020 — this time with far graver consequences. Cities in the enclave have been shelled and outside powers have been drawn in.

Turkey has come to the aid of Azerbaijan with militias flown in from Syria and with weaponry, specially drones produced by a Turkish firm owned and run by President Erdogan’s son-in-law. Erdogan’s newly aggressive stance in the Caucasus marks a new level of Turkish engagement in countries formerly the exclusive prerogative of President Putin. Turkey’s entering the conflict on the side of Armenia’s enemies raises the specter of the murder of 1.5 million Armenians carried out in Turkey at the end off WWI. Globally recognized as a genocide, Turkey refuses to accept that term.

Israel has also come to the aid of Azerbaijan, restocking its drones and other modern weapons. Azerbaijan and Iran have been uneasy geographic neighbors since Azerbaijan achieved its independence in 1991. Northwest Iran is inhabited by Azeris and each country fears the other will use that group to seize each other's territory. Israel has managed to establish deep ties with Azerbaijan which has allowed Israel to use its territory as a base against Iran.

President Putin has responded to the conflict by warning that Russia would come to the aid of Armenia if fighting reached Armenian territory and by trying to establish a cease fire.

A cease fire was worked out in Moscow but quickly collapsed. Fighting has broken out again with both sides now shelling civilians.

The U.S. has no presence in the conflict and has not brought diplomacy to bear.
--Marvin Zonis

A widespread fear suggests that because of the vast increase in absentee ballots, the results of the presidential election will not be know for days — or even weeks — after the polls close. Here is an analysis that suggests those fears are completely misplaced.
——Marvin Zonis

October 05, 2020

President Trump, who describes himself as a great dealmaker, characterized his “phase one” trade deal with China as “the biggest deal ever seen.” The consequences of that deal are now available for all to see: the largest U.S. trade deficit in goods and services in recent memory.

As Ryan Hass and Abraham Denmark reported in a recent study of Trump’s trade war with China:

A September 2019 study by Moody’s Analytics found that the trade war had already cost the U.S. economy nearly 300,000 jobs and an estimated 0.3% of real GDP. Other studies put the cost to U.S. GDP at about 0.7%. A 2019 report from Bloomberg Economics estimated that the trade war would cost the U.S. economy $316 billion by the end of 2020, while more recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Columbia University found that U.S. companies lost at least $1.7 trillion in the price of their stocks as a result of U.S. tariffs imposed on imports from China.

[Ryan Hass and Abraham Denmark, "More Pain Than Gain: How the US-China Trade War Hurt America,” https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2020/08/07/more-pain-than-gain-how-the-us-china-trade-war-hurt-america/]
——Marvin Zonis

September 22, 2020

In a conversation with David Axelrod today, he said the following:

September 11, 2020

By David E. Sanger, Helene Cooper And Eric Schmitt

September 03, 2020

An American graduate student imprisoned for three years in Iran while doing PhD thesis research on Iranian history explains why no improvement in U.S.-Iran relation should be expected — no matter who wins the coming presidential elections in the U.S. and Iran.
--Marvin Zonis



The Kimchi Matters: Global Business and Local Politics in a Crisis Driven World,
co-authors Daniel Lefkovitz and Sam Wilkin, Chicago: Agate Press, 2003

The Eastern European Opportunity, A Complete Guide and Sourcebook,
co-author Dwight Semler, New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1992

Majestic Failure: The Fall of the Shah,
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1991

Khomeini and the Islamic Republic of Iran,
co-author Daniel Brumberg, Cambridge: Harvard Middle East Papers
, 1987

The Political Elite of Iran.
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976


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GSB Magazine
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to Iran, Nightline, and the GSB"
Part One [PDF]
Part Two [PDF]
January, 2006