For over a quarter-century, Iran has been one of America's chief nemeses. But as Ray Takeyh shows in this accessible and authoritative history of Iran's relations with the world since the revolution, behind the famous personalities and extremist slogans is a nation that is far more pragmatic—and complex—than many in the West have been led to believe.
A groundbreaking book that reveals how the underappreciated domestic political rivalries within Iran serve to explain the country's behavior on the world stage. A leading expert explains why we fail to understand Iran and offers a new strategy for redefining this crucial relationship.
Ray Takeyh examines examples of foreign policy failures turned success, including "the shift in U.S. containment policy during the early stages of the Truman presidency; the changed U.S. approach to the Vietnam War after Richard Nixon's 1968 election; and George W. Bush's surge in Iraq."
In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, Ray Takeyh discusses Iran's political history and how it influences the Islamic Republic's commitment to its nuclear program and radical ties.
Asked by Aaron Marks, from Staten Island, New York
Since the discovery of illicit Iranian nuclear facilities in 2002, the United States has sought to mobilize an international coalition to address the Iranian nuclear challenge through various coercions and incentives. UN member states agree that Iran is entitled to a civilian nuclear program for purposes of energy generation, but they require assurances that such a program is not going to be misused for military purposes.
In the nuclear dispute between Iran and the United States, a grand bargain is unlikely given the level of mistrust between the two parties. What's more realistic is a modest compromise that breaches the wall of mistrust and potentially sets the stage for further-reaching arms control measures, says Ray Takeyh.
Ray Takeyh says, "Ali Khamenei may not want a deal with America, but increasingly he cannot afford not to have one. Ironically, a more circumscribed agreement that allows him to sustain the essential character of his nuclear program and his slogans of resistance may be his path out of the dilemma of his own creation."
Ray Takeyh argues, "The United States will make genuine progress with Iran only when moderate leaders assume greater control of the state. An interim accord may provide time, but that time must be used to broaden the contours of Iran's political system."
Staff: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies September 5, 2008—8:30 am to 1:30 pm
On September 5, 2008, the Council on Foreign Relations convened some of the country's top experts on Iran. Over the course of three sessions, the symposium sought to understand Iran as a global player and identify policy options for the next U.S. administration.
This symposium was made possible through the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Director: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies February 1, 2007—Present
The United States is faced with an array of serious challenges in the Middle East, perhaps unprecedented in the past fifty years. An attempt to provoke a revolutionary change in the Middle East has collapsed with a large U.S. land army lodged in the heart of the region. The United States now confronts a Middle East that features an imploding Iraqi state, an aggressive Islamic Republic about to cross the nuclear threshold and a Palestinian state broken into two failed entities.
The Roundtable on the U.S. and Middle East will seek to develop strategies for the next administration. Should the United States attempt to recoup its position by pressing forward, albeit more prudently and with international cooperation, or should the United States go "back to the future," and place "stability over freedom," to use President Bush's phrase? Is it time to create an alliance with Sunnis to stave off the immediate threat of Iranian encroachment? What should the United States' grand strategy be in the Middle East? These and other questions will be the focus of monthly discussions.
Staff: Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies January 1, 2006—Present
Academic Conference Call
Deterring a Nuclear Iran
James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Irina A. Faskianos, Vice President, National Program & Outreach, Council on Foreign Relations
The Emerging Shia Crescent Symposium: Is Shia Power Cause for Concern?
Steven A. Cook, Douglas Dillon Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Toby C. Jones, Mellon Post Doctoral Fellow in Middle East History, Swarthmore College, Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow, Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Ethan S. Bronner, Deputy Foreign Editor, The New York Times
Negotiating Iran from the European and Russian Perspectives
Charles A. Kupchan, Senior Fellow and Director for Europe Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Stephen Sestanovich, George F. Kennan Senior Fellow for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Ray Takeyh, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and adjunct professor at Georgetown University. His areas of specialization are Iran, political reform in the Middle East, and Islamist movements and parties.
Prior to joining the Council on Foreign Relations, Dr. Takeyh was Senior Advisor on Iran at the Department of State. He was previously a fellow at the Washington Institute of Near East Policy and has taught at National War College, Yale University, and University of California, Berkeley.
Takeyh is the author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran'sApproach to the World (Oxford University Press, 2009). He is also the author of two previous books, Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in theIslamic Republic (Henry Holt, 2006) and The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The U.S., Britain and Nasser's Egypt, 1953-1957 (St. Martin's Press, 2000). Dr. Takeyh has published widely, including articles in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, National Interest,Survival, World Policy Journal, Washington Quarterly, Orbis, Middle East Journal and Middle East Policy. His commentary has also been featured in many newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Financial Times and International Herald Tribune.
Takeyh has testified frequently in front various congressional committees and has appeared on PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer, Charlie Rose, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, FOX and CSPAN.
Dr. Takeyh has a doctorate in modern history from Oxford University.
Persian (fluent); Arabic (working knowledge)
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