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Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States [Paperback]

Trita Parsi
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 28, 2008 0300143117 978-0300143119 1

In this era of superheated rhetoric and vitriolic exchanges between the leaders of Iran and Israel, the threat of nuclear violence looms. But the real roots of the enmity between the two nations mystify Washington policymakers, and no promising pathways to peace have emerged. This book traces the shifting relations among Israel, Iran, and the United States from 1948 to the present, uncovering for the first time the details of secret alliances, treacherous acts, and unsavory political maneuverings that have undermined Middle Eastern stability and disrupted U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the region.


Trita Parsi, a U.S. foreign policy expert with more than a decade of experience, is the only writer who has had access to senior American, Iranian, and Israeli decision makers. He dissects the complicated triangular relations of their countries, arguing that America’s hope for stability in Iraq and for peace in Israel is futile without a correct understanding of the Israeli-Iranian rivalry.


Parsi’s behind-the-scenes revelations about Middle East events will surprise even the most knowledgeable readers: Iran’s prime minister asks Israel to assassinate Khomeini, Israel reaches out to Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, the United States foils Iran’s plan to withdraw support from Hamas and Hezbollah, and more. This book not only revises our understanding of the Middle East’s recent past, it also spells out a course for the future. In today’s belligerent world, few topics, if any, could be more important.



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Editorial Reviews


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

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300143117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300143119
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent and timely book October 7, 2007
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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104 of 122 people found the following review helpful
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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55 of 68 people found the following review helpful
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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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Iran and the US November 3, 2007
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent insight into the workings of Middle Eastern politics
It is always dangerous and risky to write a review of a book on a topic that I know little about. My interest in the middle east however and my support for Palestinians and poor... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Bob's Beekeeping
5.0 out of 5 stars Well its a book..
I bought this book for my father, so i am only going to comment regarding the packaging and so, i shipped it to saudi arabia and the book was in excellent condition!
Published 14 months ago by mindraider92
Iranian-Americans are puzzled when they see America, that once stood as the beacon of freedom and moral value, turns its back on pro democracy Iranians who poured onto the streets... Read more
Published on January 30, 2012 by Mohareb Free Iran
1.0 out of 5 stars A mouthpiece for the Iranian regime
First, the facts: the author, Trita Parsi and his organization, NIAC, represent a lobbying effort for the Iranian regime. Read more
Published on October 28, 2011 by A Teacher
4.0 out of 5 stars Important, insightful, yet lacking
I purchased this book because like many other, I am both rattled and confused about statements and moves that Iran has been making. Read more
Published on July 27, 2011 by Dr. Smoker
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
This is simply the best book in print on Iran and its relationship with Israel and the United States. This is a meticulously researched book that is also quite easy to read. Read more
Published on July 12, 2011 by ammou
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Insightful
I agree with most other reviewers that "Treacherous Alliance" is highly insightful and provides a welcome balance to many contemporary western views of Iran. Read more
Published on June 11, 2011 by ConsDemo
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent look at foreign affairs.
Trita Parsi's Treacherous Alliance is a deeply interesting book that analyzes Iran, Israel, and the United States secret dealings and behind the scenes agreement. Read more
Published on May 13, 2011 by Hayro
4.0 out of 5 stars The real name of the game
An excellent insight into the actual dealings between Israel, Iran and the USA away from the boring Iranian rhetoric of "death to america and death to israel" when in fact they... Read more
Published on May 2, 2011 by Meenaddak
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Review
This book, while it covers much ground that is already well known, is a great read regardless, because f the number of senior leaders on the US and Iranian sides who are... Read more
Published on April 1, 2010 by David W. Southworth
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