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."