Top Books to Read Ahead of the July 7th Deadline for an Agreement with Iran
A day doesn’t go by that Iran is not mentioned in the news. But for the majority of Americans, U.S.-Iran relations remain a mystery. With the deadline on a nuclear deal fast approaching, I’ve compiled a list of books that I find most useful in explaining the major sticking points in relations, and point out opportunities in moving forward.
Iran and the United States: An Insider’s View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace, by Seyed Hossein Mousavian
There is no book that tells the troubled story of U.S.-Iran relations from the Iranian perspective better than this insightful account by Seyyed Hossein Mousavian. An Iranian diplomat with over 30 years of experience in U.S.-Iran relations, Moussavian offers a thought-provoking account of missed opportunities and mutual mistrust. His own experiences add a rich and personal dimension, and Mousavian remains hopeful that the two countries can bury the hatchet. Clearly outlining what each side stands to gain from an improvement of relations, Mousavian prescribes a way forward.
Iran in World Politics: The Question of the Islamic Republic, by Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
If we are to understand the worldview of Iran’s leaders, the environment that informs their relationship with the west, and their sense of Iran’s role in the world, Adib-Moghaddam’s book is a critically important one. This in-depth analysis warns the reader against dangerous simplifications and caricatures of Iran, and goes beyond the surface in explaining Iranian foreign policy. This book is central to any productive discussion of U.S.-Iran relations.
Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the U.S., by Trita Parsi
The history of cooperation, alliances, and sabotage between Iran, Israel, and the U.S. are exhaustively examined in this book by Trita Parsi. In order to understand Washington’s antagonistic relationship with Tehran, it’s important to cut through to the important Iran-Israeli rivalry for dominance in the region. Parsi argues that antagonism between Iran and Israel is not ideological but a practical one regarding dominance of the Middle East. This book is important in showing that cooperation between the two countries is not only eminently plausible, but to the benefit of both.
All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle Eastern Terror, by Stephen Kinzer
The United States’ support for authoritarianism has landed it in trouble across the world. Nowhere is this more evident than in Iran. The U.S.-orchestrated coup that overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953, and its subsequent support for the Shah planted the seeds of mistrust between the two nations. The revolution that overthrew the Shah brought about a government that took as its rallying cry independence from foreign intervention. This episode haunts U.S.-Iran relations to this day, and contains the roots of current hostilities. America’s role in Iranian politics during the coup and its support for the Shah’s authoritarianism is critical in understanding the relationship between the two countries. Kinzer’s authoritative account illuminates this critical period of relations between the two countries.
Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iranian Nuclear Scare, by Gareth Porter
This book addresses the elephant in the room regarding U.S.- Iran relations: Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program. Porter does an important job in this book of examining the veracity of allegations that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon, providing detailed documentation to the contrary. Anyone who advocates for war with Iran because of its nuclear program must read this book.