This book features some interesting insights into Iran's foreign policy, particularly dynamics inside the US government that shaped its reaction to Iran over the years. Unfortunately, the book's bright spots are marred by sloppy editing that include grammatical mistakes and factual errors. For example, on page 202 the Asad regime's Hama Massacre is said to have occurred in 1981 instead of 1982.
The author's basic contention is that Iran is inherently disadvantaged in pursuing its foreign policy goals because it has failed to adapt to the pattern of alliances in a post-Soviet world.
Iran's present government is also said to be unable to pursue a more rational foreign policy more in-tune with its interests. Yet one weakness of this sub-argument might be that the author sees Iran as she wishes it were, rather than what it is. In other words, she presumes that Iran's rational interests are tied up in the same sort of secular system that prevailed under the Shah's more secular governance, rather than the current system of an Islamic republic. In this, the author succumbs to a blind spot plaguing many in Washington -- the failure to credit the salience of religion in the Middle East.
For the Islamic Republic of Iran, supporting the Palestinian struggle is rational and in its national interests because this is what the government of Iran values. So in this way it is an eminently rational policy based on Iran's present identity and how it defines its interests. Do most Iranians support their own government and would they define Iran's true interests this way? Certainly there are many in Tehran who don't appear to -- we saw that in 2009. But it may also be true that the majority of Iranians do in fact support the present system of government and its Islamic character.
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