I have just finished reading Ray Takeyh’s excellent book Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the age of the Ayatollahs (Oxford University Press, 2009). Takeyh is a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic (Times Books, 2006).
Both books are well worth reading (and very readable). In today’s environment of an ongoing campaign for sanctions against Iran I am struck in particular by one paragraph in the concluding chapter of Guardians of the Revolution (page 261):
Despite occasional calls for regime change and fanciful hopes that somehow it can provoke another revolution, the basic U.S. policy toward Iran remains one of containment. In a return to its glorious past, successive administrations have taken a page from the United States’ early cold-war struggle with the Soviet Union, when the Western powers successfully frustrated Moscow’s expansionist designs. By directly projecting its own power and conceiving a broad-based Arab alliance, the United States aims to check and if possible to reduce Iran’s influence. The only intriguing aspect of this strategy is that its persistent failure has yet to disabuse the Washington establishment of its utility.
Who could disagree with that assessment?