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11 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Thorough - if imbalanced - history offers expert background8 janvier 2007
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This slightly convoluted book provides tremendous background to help advanced readers understand the complex motives and machinations that shape U.S.-Iranian relations. Unfortunately, professor Ali Ansari has a definite point of view that affects his presentation about Iran's stated nuclear threats and terrorist financing, even as he chides the "trigger-happy Americans" in Iraq. He may be right that the U.S. missed several opportunities to reduce tensions with Iran, but he admits that Iran's overtures were oblique and unpopular. His baroque interpretations of Iran's motives and the relationships among its factions is dizzying, and open to question - ultimately adding to Iran's mystery. Despite its biases, we consider this important for those seeking a comprehensive overview of Iran and its complex U.S. relations. The book goes well beyond any discussion available in the mass media.
8 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A largely unorganized and unfocused rehashing of conventional wisdom1 août 2008
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Although Confronting Iran has some merits (albeit only a few), the shortcomings of this book are what unfortunately stand out. Had I not just finished Trita Parsi's book Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States, I would have reacted more favorably to Ansari's book, but at the end of the day, if you're only going to read one book concerning Iran and the U.S., there is absolutely no excuse to pick up Confronting Iran.
To begin, the title is somewhat misleading. It implies a history of the interaction between the U.S. and Iran, which is not necessarily what you'll find. A little more than halfway through the book, it seems as if the title was merely an attempt to grab attention in order to sell more copies since Iran is in the news as much as it is. A large part of the book focuses on domestic Iranian politics. This is only problematic because it strays from what the book allegedly sets out to do, and in any case, the author doesn't convincingly connect the domestic parts of the book to the overall theme. One of the highlights of the book is the context provided behind Ahmadinejad's election and that it was not the result of the Iranian public overwhelmingly choosing him, but rather that fraud was rampant, and that with four reformist candidates also running, the splitting of their votes helped a hard-liner come to office.
Something that made me wary of the domestic Iranian portions of the book though, is that Ansari's narrative of the relationship between the U.S. and Iran was nothing more than a rehashing of conventional wisdom. Again, had I not just read Parsi's book, this would not have seemed as glaringly obvious, but the contrast between the two books are nothing short of stunning. One of the reasons for this is the absence of much in the way of cited sources in Ansari's book. He seems like he's just taking the accepted narrative of these events and not really examining them. Parsi, on the other hand, went to great lengths to interview as many participants as possible, providing a much more complete picture of the subject in about the same amount of pages. I felt as if I learned something important on every page of Parsi's book. Confronting Iran however, couldn't be farther from that feeling. I felt as if I learned very little new information. Considering the complexity of the subject, it seems pointless to provide such a bland narrative.
The only real audience for this book is the type of person that knows absolutely nothing about the subject, and kind of wants to get a basic idea of how things unfolded. People well-versed in the subject will find very little of interest in this book unfortunately. Ansari deserves credit for trying to foster a dialogue or a greater understanding of the subject, but the bulk of the book fails to live up to these aims. The only place where he attempts to go beyond conventional wisdom is his comparison of some of the hard-line elements in Iran to the neoconservatives in the U.S. It's kind of a lazy comparison, that isn't really accurate in anything other than a very broad context. This approach unfortunately is characteristic of the book as a whole. For a book that is more or less the same length, Confronting Iran fails to even remotely compare to Parsi's Treacherous Alliance.
28 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
We've Made Some Serious Errors!16 juillet 2006
Loyd E. Eskildson
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Iran possesses the second-largest reserves of oil in the world, as well as the second largest natural gas reserves. Thus, their importance is hard to overestimate.
U.S. recent involvement in Iran began with our participation in the overthrow of its democratically-elected leader on 8/19/53 because of his decision to nationalize the oil industry - with payment and the intent to retain most/all workers. Subsequently, we further aggravated our relationship by pushing for exempting U.S. citizens from Iranian laws, and our support for land reform as a defense against Communism.
In 1974 the U.S. signed a ten-year agreement to supply Iran with enriched uranium, while Iran planned to order 5 nuclear power plants from France. Meanwhile, the U.S. supported Shah eventually turned the populace against him by stifling dissent, and when the U.S. allowed the deposed Shah into the U.S. for medical treatment (Britain had prohibited), the U.S. began to be viewed as the Great Satan and the Iranian hostage situation followed.
Our alliance with and support of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War became another problem, while U.S. political support for Iran was undermined by the Iran-Contra affair (weapons and parts to Iran for hostages being released in Lebanon and cash - the cash was then funneled to Nicaraguan Contras). The Vincennes affair (guided missile destroyer that negligently shot down an Iranian airliner), followed by our initial efforts to cover-up the error and Reagan's awarding the Captain a medal further soured our relationship.
Other problems included the Navy ship Stark - hit by an Iraqi missile, the U.S. initially blamed Iran and President Reagan made some very derogatory and inappropriate remarks aimed at Iranians), opposing a pipeline through Iran (made economic sense), refusing to allow Conoco to contract with Iraq because of Israeli lobbying, and the perception that U.S. foreign policy was made in Israel. (Bush I had complained in 1991 about the 1,000 Jews simultaneously lobbying Congress to allow American aid money to be spent enlarging settlements; his remarks punctured their effort, but he heavily lost Jewish counties in the next election. Currently many Christian fundamentalist goups also lobby for Israel.)
Relations improved late in the Clinton Administration when Secretary Albright expressed regret regarding our involvement in the 1953 regime change and supporting Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. Unfortunately, according to Ansari, the Iranians decided to wait for a Republican president to move forward.
Bush II immediately shifted into reverse by reworking old allegations about Iran's involvement in the '96 Khobar (Saudi Arabia) towers bombing in '96. (Clinton dropped the matter in light of positive developments, his belief that the evidence was weak, and Saudi Arabia's failure to cooperate.)
Nonetheless, after 9/11, Iran's President and others were among the first to offer condolences, and many citizens demonstrated against terrorists. Despite the U.S.'s rude approach, it was agreed to support rescue missions from Iranian soil, and Iran did arrest fleeing Taliban and al Qaeda (though they did refuse to turn them over to the U.S.)
This cooperation was followed by Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech, and Israel's interception of a ship carrying arms from Iran to the Palestinian Authority. The result was that Iranian "hard-liners'" hand was strengthened. The Religious Council banned many Reformists (even incumbents) from running, and hard-liner Ahmedinejad was elected (made economic sense to the general public on the basis of his reform promises).
"Confronting Iran" closes with a summary of the nuclear standoff with the U.S. vs. Iran. Unfortunately the details are not clear; however, what is clear is that Iran was not without fault in this area. Regardless, Ansari makes a good point by stating that the U.S. has very few Iran experts, and rotating them out every three years is not a good idea.
Bottom Line: "Confronting Iran" provides a good understanding of the history of U.S.-Iran relations. However, it is sometimes hard to follow, due to sparse details and/or out-of-order material.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Not a Bad Read on a Complex Subject23 mars 2007
Justin D. Siebenhaar
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This book was good for both its take on current events with regards to Iran, and also for the historical dealings layout. I've read various authors on the history of the Middle East, but when dealing with the Middle East as a whole, anyone is bound to overlook key details just because of necessity. Writing about the unique nations is important because Iranians don't look at themselves as just another one of the Middle Eastern nations that the west thinks are all the same.
Ansari's analysis seems very fair to me. America has made some mistakes and they shouldn't deny that. But he is upfront about the mistakes Iran made also
It is difficult to read any book on this subject without forming an opinion one way or another. The fact that anyone is reading it suggests they already have an opinion on Iran. Ansari portrays a country whose leaders are, as of 1979, relatively hostile to the West/USA, and have very little desire to amend themselves with Americans. But it also shows contrasting citizenry who respect the West and want to patch things up.
The question now becomes what to do about Iran. Ansari didn't touch on this much, and that probably wasn't the intention of his book. This book is good for getting a solid reference point and then working from there. More knowledge about this complex nation and region would not hurt anyone, and such ignorance seems to be rampant among talking heads today.
The one area I would criticize the book is in its characterization of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It seems Ansari purposely avoids mentioning how completely whacko this guy is and how bad he is for Iran. Scholars cannot keep ignoring and glossing over all the "incinerate the Jews" talk and holocaust denying as simple rhetoric of Middle Eastern leaders. When every stump speech Ahmadinejad gives up and down Iran contains the underlying theme of war with the rest of the world he cannot then expect to be given visas to UN, so he can cry about being treated unfairly. Part of democratic negotiations is acting like a sane individual. If Iranian leaders can't do that any expectation of fair engagement with the west is a pie in the sky.
7 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Interesting, but not much new though11 janvier 2007
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As my title imply this book is very interesting - it is a great introduction to Iran and its foregin policy but if you are familiar with middle eastern history and politics it is not much that you probably dont already know.
Whats makes this book this inreresting is the importance of the subject as the tone between Iran and US/Israel is more harsh than ever. I especally enjoyed the last few chapters.
Overall: Must read if you want to understand Iranian foregin relations beyond what the media presents. If you already know a bit there is nothing controverial or new in this book.