Synopses & Reviews
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 Americas hope for stability in Iraq and for peace in Israel is futile without a correct understanding of the Israeli-Iranian rivalry.
Parsis behind-the-scenes revelations about Middle East events will surprise even the most knowledgeable readers: Irans prime minister asks Israel to assassinate Khomeini, Israel reaches out to Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, the United States foils Irans plan to withdraw support from Hamas and Hezbollah, and more. This book not only revises our understanding of the Middle Easts recent past, it also spells out a course for the future. In todays belligerent world, few topics, if any, could be more important.
About the Author
Q: What is new about your book?
A: Its 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 Israels 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 Israels 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 regions 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.