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Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States Hardcover – October 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


"This is an important piece of work. It is original and fills a much needed gap in the literature. For anyone working in this field it would be essential."—Gary Sick, Columbia University

(Gary Sick)

"This book is outstanding and important."—Nikki Keddie, author of Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution

(Nikki Keddie)

“In Treacherous Alliance, Trita Parsi makes a persuasive case that since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran has consistently used ideology to achieve hardheaded national interest objectives, rather than sacrifice national interest on the altar of extremist ideological goals. This is an extremely important point to bear in mind as Iran's relations with US and Israel deteriorate and the prospect of yet another Persian Gulf conflict looms. This work, based on extensive interviews with decision makers in three countries, contributes both to our historical understanding and our current policy debate.”—Francis Fukuyama, author of America at the Crossroads
(Francis Fukuyama)

“A penetrating, provocative, and very timely study that deciphers how U.S. policy in the Middle East has been manipulated both by Iran and by Israel even as relations between these two oscillated between secret collusion and overt collision.”— The Honorable Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter
(The Honorable Zbigniew Brzezinski)

“A brilliant interpretation of one of today’s most enigmatic conflicts. In a sober and original analysis, Dr. Parsi unearths the true nature of the tension in the triangle Iran-Israel-USA as a manipulation by all parties—especially the Israelis and the Iranians—of ideological differences to conceal what can be a solvable strategic dispute. This is a study about the manipulation of ideology and religion in the struggle for mastery in the Middle East.”—Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s former foreign minister and author of Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Israeli-Arab Tragedy
(Shlomo Ben-Ami)

“Trita Parsi has written an outstanding book, filled with fascinating detail and trenchant analysis. Treacherous Alliance discusses Iran and Israel in dispassionate and smart ways, which is rarely done in the United States.”—John Mearsheimer, University of Chicago
(John Mearsheimer)

"Parsi writes a timely, engaging narrative, capturing colorful detail. . . . By focusing on national interests, Parsi refreshingly and provocatively sees relations among the three nations as not necessarily at odds. . . . Parsi's valuable, informative study finally inspires a fundamental question about American prospects in the long sweep of history."—Donald W. White, The Historian
(Donald W. White The Historian)

From the Author

Q: What is new about your book?

A: It’s about how geopolitical struggles in the Middle East are fueling the tensions between Iran, Israel, and the United States, and how a failure to address the root causes of these struggles has made an already bad situation worse. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the book shows that Iran's and Israel’s enmity is not about ideology—even though both states find it useful to portray it as such. And it shows how even under the worst of circumstances, these two former allies—Iran and Israel—have kept communicating behind the scenes.

Q: What have been the main causes of the breakdown between Iran, Israel, and the United States?

A: The major transformations of Israeli-Iranian relations have all coincided with geopolitical—and not ideological—shifts in the region. The common threats Iran and Israel faced back in the 1980s—the Soviet Union and Iraq—pushed the two countries closer to each other, and Israel lobbied Washington to talk to Tehran. In the early 1990s, Iran and Israel’s common foes were eliminated, and they suddenly found themselves facing each other in the process of establishing a new regional order. In this new geopolitical reality, Iran and Israel were no longer uneasy security partners, but fierce rivals.

Q: What in your view is the best path the U.S., Israel, and Iran can take to avoid a war?

A: The risk for such a conflict is significant as long as all three states look for maximalist goals. The underlying problem is that the Middle East lacks a sustainable order, one in which all states are given a stake in the region’s security. Both Israel and Iran have been efficient spoilers, but neither has been able to implement its own vision of the Middle East. Only a common vision for the Middle East—one based on collective security—can tame the Israeli-Iranian rivalry.

Q: What unique qualifications do you bring to this study?

A: The book is based on my interviews with the top leadership in all three countries. The state of the triangular relationship between the U.S., Israel, and Iran has been extensively discussed in penetrating interviews that go well beyond the public talking points. As a result, the book reveals perspectives and strategic calculations that so far have been hidden from Western audiences.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300120575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300120578
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,068,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Trita Parsi has written a compelling book, cutting thorough ideological and political propaganda emanating from the three countries he has focused on (US, Israel, and Iran), and going right through the core issues involving geopolitical and regional hegemony aspirations of the three governments. What is fascinating is that Parsi reveals that such political calculations transcend the particular ideology of the governments in these three countries. Whether it is Likud or Labor in Israel, Democrats or Republicans in the US, or The former Shah's regime or the reformists or hardliners of the Islamic government in Iran, the decision making process remarkably follows more or less the same logic, and the same priorities are at play. When a shift in policy takes place, Parsi reveals that again the political faction of the government involved is irrelevant. In fact, amazingly, the very same people who were advocating one set of policies, often advance a diametrically opposite set a few years later. Parsi underlines this point by revealing how Israeli Labor leaders, the late Itzhak Rabin and Shimon Perez were lobbying the Reagan administration to disregard virulent rhetoric from Iran and try to open up channels of communication with them, while just a few years later these two men were warning about the Iranian menace in every domestic and international speech. He points out how the neo-conservatives dominating the Bush administration were the very same people who were advocating supporting Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and opening channels in the eighties in the Reagan administration. And how the former hostage takers in Iran are now mostly leading liberals advocating negotiations and moderation in Iranian policies.Read more ›
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106 of 124 people found the following review helpful By Clayton E. Swisher on August 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Based on exclusive interviews, new information, and gritty investigative work, Trita Parsi's book provides the evidence anyone on President George W. Bush's team should look at to rationally understand why confrontation between the US and Iran is NOT inevitable.

This masterpiece demonstrates fresh analysis and keeps up with Dr. Parsi's proven credibility here in Washington for objectively and (at times) unconventionally calling out developments in the US-Iranian relationship, regardless of which neoconservatives or pro-war hawks might cringe.

Treacherous Alliance is tightly written and readable for all levels of the public who are moderately informed and interested in foreign policy. Academics will mine through the numerous exclusive quotes provided and timeless high-level quotes obtained, as well as the many pages of footnotes (and even leaked documents!) for those looking to do spinoff research and analysis.

At a time when drumbeats by DC policy dead-enders persist for a new military confrontation with Iran, finally a credible, air-tight book arrives to preempt their arguments for the next global disaster.

For those who don't read Dr. Parsi's book, fortunately the major American and international news outlets, including CNN, BBC, and al-Jazeera are on to him and host him as a frequent guest expert.

This book deserves a Pulitzer.
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57 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Babaktalebi on September 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Unlike the first reviewer who obviously didn't even skim the book, I would attest that this revealing and insightful book is brimming with historical facts, anecdotes, and analysis that simply can not be found elsewhere. (The author interviewed dozens of high-ranking Israeli, American, and Iranian officials inside Israel and Iran - the analysis never comes across as conjecture)

The basic premise of the book, based on over 130 first-hand interviews with the highest ranking officials in all three countries, is that the basic geo-political and national interest concerns of Iran and Israel have guided their foreign policy from one of convergence to divergence.

It further paints a clear picture of why the conventional wisdom regarding the dominance of an ideological driving force in their bilateral dealings is a false one - and shows how it can and has lead to miscalculations in the United States' foreign policy in the region.

The book is also a very easy read for those unfamiliar with the intricacies of international relations yet manages to provide a ton of new facts and anecdotes for even the most ardent student of modern middle eastern political history.

I highly recommend this book to any and all who are curious about Iran and Israel's role in the middle east over the next few decades, particularly with the heightened tensions that seem to point to a military conflict in the near term.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful By John T. Weed on November 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States

I am a registered Republican who supported/s both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But after reading Trita Parsi's book I find I am opposed to any strike/attack on Iran at this time.

I enjoyed the cultural and geopolitical history of Persia/Iran and their relationship with Persian Jews. I also enjoyed reading about the historical events and dealings between Israel, Iran, and the US during the Shah, Khomanei and current Islamic Theocracy including the Iran/Contra time period.

Most interesting are the sections of the book where he discusses Iran's help to the US during the outbreak of war in Afghanistan in terms of Intel on the Taliban and when we took Baghdad during OIF in terms of their (Iran's) request to open diplomatic talks with Iran who was willing to put "everything" on the table including their ending aid to Hezbollah in southern Lebabnon and Hamas in the West Bank and open monitoring of any and all nuclear/biological/ and/or chemical sites we might be concerned about. Those requests were made to senior current Administration folks through the Swiss Embassy which was ignored.

Essentially this book reveals that war with Iran is not inevitable and how Dipolmacy with Iran could even aid both current wars. Definitely worth a read.

I have written my Congressman and both Senators to ask them or their Staff to read the book.
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