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 ideologyeven though both states find it useful to portray it as such. And it shows how even under the worst of circumstances, these two former alliesIran and Israelhave 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 geopoliticaland not ideologicalshifts in the region. The common threats Iran and Israel faced back in the 1980sthe Soviet Union and Iraqpushed 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 Eastone based on collective securitycan 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.