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Taking on Iran: Strength, Diplomacy, and the Iranian Threat, by Abraham D. Sofaer

201 pages3 hours


“The prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran is the most daunting challenge to international order. Abe Sofaer has put forward a serious analysis of the issue, together with a thoughtful diplomatic scenario for overcoming it. He has made a significant contribution to improving the prospects of peace and security in the Middle East and the rest of the world.”
~Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

"In this book, Abe Sofaer presents an alternative to preventive attack or containment that should have been implemented long ago. The lawful use of defensive strength against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps could, in addition to deterring aggression, provide important diplomatic leverage. Strength is the key to getting Iran to negotiate in earnest, and the U.S. should apply diplomatic practices in negotiating with Iran similar to those the U.S. used successfully in negotiating with the Soviet Union."
~ Former Secretary George P. Shultz

"Abe Sofaer has a jurist's eyes for details, a scholar's stamina for depth of research and a diplomat's ears for nuances of policy. His long experience in directly dealing with the Islamic Republic of Iran makes his observations on the vagaries of American policy on Iran a must read for all interested in the problems and prospects of the vexing challenge of US policy on Iran."
~ Abbas Milani, Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University


The threat posed by Iran to international peace and security is approaching a crisis. After compiling a thirty-year record as the world’s most active state supporter of terrorism, led by its Pasadran, or Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which together with its Quds [Jerusalem] and Basij Forces, Iran seems determined to develop nuclear weapons. Its aims are not merely defensive or solely based on national pride. Iran’s rulers do seek to preserve their Islamic system, but they also plan to lead an Islamic resurgence in which Western powers would be driven from all Islamic countries. Iran has intervened in many states in pursuing these objectives. It has also attacked and threatened the US and other states that interfere with its aspirations. And it calls repeatedly for wiping Israel off the face of the Earth while providing weapons to Israel’s enemies to advance that end.

The situation between the US and Iran cannot be equated with what the US faced in dealing with the Soviet Union. But the policy of combining strength and diplomacy is universally valid. Both elements are necessary for success. We must not let our natural aversion to war lead us to oppose every use of force, however legitimate and essential to establish credibility; and we must not allow our natural impatience with deception and duplicity lead us to oppose every diplomatic effort, however properly prepared and promising. The US needs, first and foremost, to defend itself and its interests consistently against IRGC aggression. It then needs also to respond effectively to the opportunities to engage Iran successfully which are more likely to result. This book explains how US policy can achieve both these objectives, and thereby reduce the Iranian threat without the risks of launching a preventive war or attempting to contain a nuclear-armed Iran.

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