- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (October 28, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300143117
- ISBN-13: 978-0300143119
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #511,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States 1st Edition
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"'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 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.
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Top customer reviews
This book is an account of dealings between Israel, Iran, and the US from the accession of the Shah in 1954 up to 2007. The author has interviewed many of the people involved. This is an important book but I feel its conclusions are misleading.
Under the Shah's reign, Iran disdained Israel, a country to which it gave no official recognition while at the same time secretly providing it with oil in exchange for military and technical training. For Israel, this policy was in agreement with a "doctrine of the periphery" according to which relations with nations outside its immediate neighbors should be cultivated. Consequently Israel chose to endure the disdain even when Iran voted for the "Zionism equals racism" resolution at the UN.
The Revolution caused a complete breakoff but only briefly. Shortly after Khomeini came to power, the Iran-Iraq war broke out. But Iran remained dependent on Israel for military aircraft parts and training. The author speaks of "a multilevel strategy that continues to bewilder political analysts and foreign leaders alike. Instead of opting to balance the Arabs by aligning with Israel, or to seek accommodation with the Arabs by taking the lead against Israel, Tehran chose to do both by differentiating between its operational policy and its rhetoric." (p. 100) Of course this is duplicity; but Iran engaged in it constantly. The hostages seized by Hezbollah "provided Iran with a valuable negotiating tool with the United States" (p.122). The purpose of Iran-Contra, in which Israel was a frequent intermediary, was to reestablish Iranian relations with Washington.
At the time of the Madrid peacemaking conference, a complex pattern of events unfolds. Israel did not want Iran to be present there because of its sponsorship of Hezbollah. Iran was excluded. It would seem to me that Iran's habit of constantly seizing U.S. hostages and then trying to use them as negotiating tools would naturally lead to her exclusion anyway. Iran's reaction was to organize a counter-conference in opposition to Madrid, which was not a great success, but it was followed by Oslo, which was a success. "Convinced that Washington wouldn't grant Iran its legitimate role in the region, " the author states, "Tehran concluded that it was left with no choice but to make America's nonrecognition as costly as possible by sabotaging its policies," and became a supporter of militant Lebanese and Palestinian groups. Israel began a new campaign to demonize Iran. This campaign is presented by the author as merely the result of an Israeli fear of being abandoned by the U.S. and he sees it as the cause of the current public image of Iran.
During approximately the same period, 1991-1994, Iran restarted its nuclear program, which had been suspended under Khomeini. Development of missiles began at the end of the war with Iraq, although at first they were very crude and there was no operational version of the first one, Shehab-3, until 1998. Iran has continued to conduct terrorist activities and to export weapons to Gaza and Sudan. The author pays little attention to this and suggests that the incident of the Karine-A, a freighter caught in the Red Sea carrying weapons to Gaza, was somehow a contrivance. Likewise he considers the AMIA incident in which a Jewish organization in Argentina was bombed, is also only dubiously connected to Iran. Other sources do not seem to agree with him on the Karine-A and AMIA. He does not mention other incidents, such as similar but more recent freighter incidents (the names of the ships involved are Francop, Victoria, and Klos-C). In 2011 an Iranian paramilitary forces attacked the British embassy in Tehran and the Israeli embassy in Cairo. He is focused on the relations of Iran with the U.S. in the pursuit of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and because of the cooperation that occurred in this case, argues for upgrading Iran's relations. The villains are the familiar neocons: Feith, Rumsfeld, and so on.
The current negative image of Iran is not, in my opinion, simply the result of Israeli demonization. The current problems in negotiating limits to the Iran nuclear program are consistent with past duplicitous behavior.