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Dancing With The Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes AUDIO TRACK AVAILABLE | Print |  E-mail





Date: Thursday, November 13,  2014

Time: Membership Social at 7:30
Program at 8:00 p.m.

Location: Coastal Georgia Center, 305 Fahm St. (behind the Visitor's Center) Directions and Map
Access: Open to the public and free for members, students and accompanying family members, educators and active military and their dependents. $10.00 charge for non-members.


Dr. Michael Rubin

The world has seldom been as dangerous as it is now. Rogue regimes—governments and groups that eschew diplomatic normality, sponsor terrorism, and proliferate nuclear weapons—threaten the United States around the globe. Because sanctions and military action are so costly, the American strategy of first resort is dialogue, on the theory that “it never hurts to talk to enemies.” Seldom is conventional wisdom so wrong.

If the history of negotiations with North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, the Taliban’s Afghanistan, and Pakistan is considered, it is clear that engagement with rogue regimes is not cost-free. Terrorist groups, such as the PLO in the 1970s and 1980s, or Hamas and Hezbollah in the last two decades, also challenge traditional diplomacy. 

While soldiers spend weeks developing lessons learned after every exercise, diplomats generally do not reflect on why their strategy toward rogues has failed, or consider whether their basic assumptions have been faulty. Nor do Americans often consider how rogues debate and construct their own strategies. While every rogue is different, they all have one thing in common: they pretend to be aggrieved in order to put Western diplomats on the defensive. Whether in Pyongyang, Tehran, or Islamabad, rogue leaders understand that the West rewards bluster with incentives and that the U.S. State Department too often values process more than results. 

Rubin will discuss the history of rogue regimes and, using their own internal debates and drawing upon a wide variety of interviews conducted with the Taliban, Pakistani intelligence, inside Iran and Iraq, and with Korean negotiators, will describe how rogues work to checkmate the United States at the negotiating table.

Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engagement examines a half century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.


  • Senior Lecturer, Naval Postgraduate School, 2007-present
  • Lecturer, Johns Hopkins University, 2010
  • Editor, Middle East Quarterly, 2004-2009
  • International Election Observer, Bangladesh, 2008
  • Political Adviser, Coalition Provisional Authority (Baghdad), 2003-2004
  • Staff Adviser, Iran and Iraq, Office of the Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), 2002-2004
  • Editorial Board, Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, 2001-2002, 2004
  • International Affairs Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, 2002-2003
  • Fellow, The Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, Hebrew University (Jerusalem), 2001-2002
  • Fellow, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, 2000-2001
  • Visiting Lecturer, Universities of Sulaymani, Salahuddin, and Duhok (Iraqi Kurdistan), 2000-2001
  • Lecturer, Department of History, Yale University, 1999-2000
  • Assistant Editor, Iranian Studies, 1994-1997


Ph.D., history, Yale University
M.A., history, Yale University
B.S., biology, Yale University

Sponsor of this Month’s Program - HunterMacLean

This program is being sponsored by HunterMaclean, the largest law firm in the state of Georgia outside of Atlanta. HunterMaclean represents a wide variety of companies and individuals throughout GeorgiaSouth Carolina, the Southeast and the United States. We appreciate its support!

Upcoming Programs

Dec. 11, 2014 - Putting Russia and the Ukraine in Context - Dr. Stephen Blank

Jan. 22, 2015 - Sadanand Dhume

Feb. 12, 2015 - The World in Crisis: America's Place as a Great Power - Ambassador William H. Bellamy

March 12, 2015 - Gulfstream Aerospace and The World

April 16, 2015 - Time to Attack Iran - Dr. Mathew Kroenig

May 7, 2015 - Turkey and the EU - The Context Changes Again - Dr. Yale Ferguson