From Publishers Weekly
As the war of words over Iran's nuclear ambitions threatens to spiral into violent conflict, objective analysis of the Islamic Republic's policies, intentions, and capabilities has never been more necessary-or more difficult to find. The Leveretts, who since leaving government service have become increasingly enthusiastic proselytizers on behalf of Tehran, offer an analysis, but not one easily classified as objective. Fashioning their latest polemic as a shot across the bow of the prevailing orthodoxy regarding "the most critical country in the world's most critical region," they call for a reset in relations and substantial engagement rather than saber-rattling and sanctions. Although some of their points are well-taken, they cast every assertion by an Iranian official in glowing terms-Ahmedinejad, they say, could not possibly be seeking nuclear weapons, since, in his view, they violate Islamic morality. They accuse the American government of "shameless duplicity" but their celebration of Iran's "significant progress toward the integration of Islamic governance and participatory politics" obfuscates the difficulties standing in the way of rapprochement. Illus. Agent: Andrew Stuart, The Stuart Agency.
Most libraries will want this book—but be prepared for polarized reader response. The Leveretts have served key foreign-policy institutions: the State Department and National Security Council (both), and the CIA (Flynt). Flynt Leverett is an international-affairs professor at Penn State; Hillary, a senior lecturer at American University. Their analysis of U.S.-Iran relations challenges Washington’s conventional wisdom. Going to Tehran maintains the U.S. has misunderstood the Islamic Republic of Iran since its 1979 revolutionary inception, erecting myths (of irrationality, illegitimacy, and isolation) as the basis for a foreign policy that ill serves U.S. interests. The authors address each myth in detail, arguing that Iran’s government is neither irrational nor illegitimate, and that U.S.-led isolation will never produce the pro-U.S., pro-democracy government its supporters promise. In fact, they argue, the best analogy for U.S.-Iran relations today is U.S.-China relations in the 1970s; what we need, the Leveretts suggest, is twenty-first-century equivalents of Kissinger and Nixon, traveling to Tehran to take steps toward a sound relationship to replace a half-century of mythmaking. --Mary Carroll
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