Revolutionary guards chanting against the Great Satan, Bush fulminating against the Axis of Evil, Iranian support for Hezbollah, and President Ahmadinejad blaming the U.S. for the world's ills-the unending war of words suggests an intractable divide between Iran and the West. But as Ray Takeyh shows in this accessible and authoritative history of ...Read MoreRevolutionary guards chanting against the Great Satan, Bush fulminating against the Axis of Evil, Iranian support for Hezbollah, and President Ahmadinejad blaming the U.S. for the world's ills-the unending war of words suggests an intractable divide between Iran and the West. 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. Takeyh explodes many of our simplistic myths of Iran as an intransigently Islamist foe of the West. He shows that three powerful forces-Islamism, pragmatism, and great power pretensions-war against one another in Iran, and that Iran's often paradoxical policies are in reality a series of compromises between the hardliners and the moderates, often with wild oscillations between pragmatism and ideological dogmatism. The U.S.'s task, Takeyh argues, is to find strategies that address Iran's objectionable behavior without demonizing this key player in an increasingly vital and volatile region. Updated with an afterword that covers the momentous protests following the 2009 Iranian elections, Guardians of the Revolution will stand as the standard work on this controversial-and central-actor in world politics for years to come.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2009-03-23 Since the 1979 revolution that transformed Iran, some U.S. decision makers have treated the Islamic Republic as a political monolith, ignoring internal disagreements and political factions in favor of broadly painting Iran's leadership as "evil." Takeyh (Hidden Iran) argues credibly that this approach has been to our own peril, as the foreign policies of Iran are often an expression of domestic politics, no matter how opaque these politics may seem to outsiders. Rather than continue to try to contain Iran by means of "a broad-based Arab alliance," an approach that's been failing for decades, Takeyh argues that the U.S. must instead "conceive a situation whereby Iran... sees benefit in limiting its ambitions." In his previous book, Takeyh expressed an unassailable optimism that "Iran will change" and was on an inexorable path to greater openness-almost regardless of who was in power. Takeyh is more pessimistic in his predictions now, writing that Iran has "confounded the West's anticipation of a forward historical progression." By failing to acknowledge his own shifting understanding of the situation, Takeyh misses an opportunity to provide a genuinely honest-however inconsistent-assessment. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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