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The Persian Puzzle: Deciphering the Twenty-five-Year Conflict Between the United States and Iran
In his highly influential book The Threatening Storm, bestselling author Kenneth Pollack both informed and defined the national debate about Iraq. Now, in The Persian Puzzle, published to coincide with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis, he examines the behind-the-scenes story of the tumultuous relationship between Iran and the United States, and weighs options for the future.Here Pollack, a former CIA analyst and National Security Council official, brings his keen analysis and insider perspective to the long and ongoing clash between the United States and Iran, beginning with the fall of the shah and the seizure of the American embassy in Tehran in 1979. Pollack examines all the major events in U.S.-Iran relations–including the hostage crisis, the U.S. tilt toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, the Iran-Contra scandal, American-Iranian military tensions in 1987 and 1988, the covert Iranian war against U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf that culminated in the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, and recent U.S.-Iran skirmishes over Afghanistan and Iraq. He explains the strategies and motives from American and Iranian perspectives and tells how each crisis colored the thinking of both countries’ leadership as they shaped and reshaped their policies over time. Pollack also describes efforts by moderates of various stripes to try to find some way past animosities to create a new dynamic in Iranian-American relations, only to find that when one side was ready for such a step, the other side fell short.With balanced tone and insight, Pollack explains how the United States and Iran reached this impasse; why this relationship is critical to regional, global, and U.S. interests; and what basic political choices are available as we deal with this important but deeply troubled country.read more
If you are interested in the history of Iran but don't know where to start, this book could be for you. Interesting, informative and readable.read more
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When Pollack, formerly director for Gulf affairs at the National Security Council and a military analyst for the CIA, wrote The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq in September 2002, he both shaped the debate over the imminent invasion and helped persuade many reluctant Democratic policy makers to support the war. This time around, he is much more cautious, concluding that although "Iran is on the wrong path and marching down it quickly," invasion would be a serious mistake. Part history lesson, part current affairs primer and part party policy memo, Pollack's new book about the second Axis of Evil member revolves around an extremely pressing question: would the acquisition of nuclear capabilities prompt the Iranians to disregard the threat of American intervention and pursue a more aggressive, destabilizing and dangerous foreign policy? Pollack cautions that there are two ticking clocks: the first is internal regime change in Iran and the second is how long it will take Iran to go nuclear. Ultimately, and with many codicils, Pollack decides that the U.S. can live with a nuclear Iran, postulating that through strong multilateral engagement we can effectively deter Iran, if not yet welcome the country into the world community. Analyzing the assumptions behind both American and Iranian foreign policy, Pollack reminds us that behind Iran's tendency to blame "everything but the weather on foreign subversion" lies a kernel of truth. The CIA did, in fact, overthrow Mossaddeq in 1953, although Americans, conveniently, "are serial amnesiacs; as a nation, we forget what we have done almost immediately after doing it." For anyone wanting to understand the stark choices the U.S. faces concerning Iran, and how to respond to them, this is the place to start. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved