Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic

Categories: Book Talk
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“Takeyh asserts that Americans have grossly misunderstood the complex realities of Iranian political life. As opposed to the image frequently shown in America—a monolithic government controlled by clerical fanatics—Takeyh presents a far more nuanced picture. Despite the recent electoral triumphs of conservative ideologies, Iran remains torn between those who seek a more secular, pluralistic state and those who hope to maintain rigid authoritarianism. The outcome is far from certain, but Takeyh insists the hostile tone emanating from the Bush administration only undermines reformers.”–Jay Freeman, Booklist

“In this well-constructed sketch of American-Iranian relations, Takeyh critiques the United States’ unnuanced approach to Iran since its 1979 revolution as well as the failure of successive administrations to note that decades of sanctions and containment haven’t significantly changed Iranian behavior. A picture emerges of a complex society marked by cultural struggle and compromise, as Takeyh criticizes the perception of Iranian politics as monolithic. He concludes that the ‘chimera of regime change’ must finally be rejected, and pointedly observes that ‘it is rare … for a state that views nuclear weapons as fundamental to its security interests to dispense with such weapons under relentless threats.’ Takeyh urges America to look beyond President Ahmadinejad to such institutions as Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council and Foreign Ministry, each of which distanced themselves from Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric. Takeyh even suggests areas in which Iran and the United States might forge a ‘selective partnership’—not least their shared need for a stable Iraq…. Takeyh provides a well-argued, seldom-heard viewpoint.”

—Publishers Weekly

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