Ch. 3: Iran’s Place in the GreaterMiddle East.
History, culture, ideology,demography, and religion are at play inIran in multiple spheres (Persian Gulf, ArabEast, Eurasia) (59-60). Iran’s self-conceptas natural hegemon is based on history(61-63). In the Persian Gulf it has movedfrom radicalism to a “good neighbor”policy (63-70). In the Arab East, oppositionto Israel and hostility to Egypt have beenenduring (70-76). Its strategy in theEurasian region is dictated by pragmaticnational interests (82).
Ch. 4: Turning Points in U.S.-IranianRelations.
An account of the U.S.overthrow of Mossadeq that mitigates U.S.culpability (85-95). Account of the hostagecrisis emphasizes that it violated Shiiteprinciples as well as international law (95-103). Iran-Contra (103-10). The U.S. failedto respond to Khatami’s 1998 “Dialogue of Civilizations” initiative (110-16).
Ch. 5: Under the Shadow of September 11.
In the aftermath of 9/11,Iran readjusted its policy toward the U.S.(118-24). But in the U.S. hardliners tookthe position that Iran was beyond the pale,which was “nearly inevitable,” given thesituation (124-30). But the youngergeneration of conservatives in Iran doesnot share their elders’ preoccupation withthe U.S. (131-34).
Ch. 6: Along the Nuclear Precipice.
Takeyh begins his discussion by asking“Why does Iran want the bomb?” (135,also 140, in caps as section heading; thisassumes Iran is lying in its denials, which Takeyh doesn’t bother to report. So his useof the expression “nuclear ambitions” willbe read by most as referring to weapons asopposed to its civilian nuclear program. Takeyh believes Iran is committed toseeking the bomb and he doesn’t bothertrying to demonstrate why―you learn littlefrom him about Iran’s nuclear program.His sources are press accounts and a fewout-of-date books. He contents himself with this assertion: “it is customary tosuggest that Iran is determined tomanufacture the bomb” (140), and speakswithout qualification of “Iran’s quest fornuclear weapons (140); cf. “For many of the Islamic Republic’s reactionary leaders,the only way to safeguard Iran’s interestsis to develop an independent nucleardeterrent” (149)). Early program (135-40). The rationality of Iran’s quest for nuclearweapons (140-46). Internal debate in Iran(146-54). Iranian public opinion supportsthe nuclear program (154-58). Iran is at acrossroads; Takeyh calls for “a realisticengagement strategy” on the part of theU.S., and does not discuss at all thepossibility of a military attack on Iran (158-60).
Ch. 7: Iran’s New Iraq.
Paradoxically,Iran and the U.S. now have convergentinterests in Iraq (161-63). Iran-Iraqrelations before the Revolution (163-67). The Iran-Iraq war; Takeyh suggests that itwas the shooting down of an Iranianairliner by the USS
in July 1988that let Iran to end the war (174; 167-77).Iran’s attitude toward Iraq is principallystrategic and pragmatic (177-87).
Ch. 8: Israel and the Politics of Terrorism.
“It is Iran’s opposition to theState of Israel that has entangled it in theunsavory world of terrorism” (190; 189-91).Early on Israel engaged Iran, stimulatingopposition within in Iran as well as anti-Semitism (191-95). Khomeini’s animositybecame Iranian policy and its incendiarynature produced terrorism (195-202).Islamic Jihad (202-04); Hezbollah (writtenbefore the outcome of the Lebanon warwas clear) (204-06). Khatami’s presidencyraised the hope that Iran would renounceterrorism (207-15).
Conclusion: Getting Iran Right.
Complex history since the IranianRevolution of 1979 (217-19). Iran is “astate that is neither revolutionary nor fullypragmatic” (219). Regime is a “chimera”that must be set aside (220). U.S. policiesof containment and “linkage” have failed(220-21). Argues for a “paradigm shift”and a comprehensive approach (221-22). Three-track negotiating strategyrecommended: nuclear program,