Engaging Iran: The Rise of a Middle East Powerhouse and America's Strategic Choice

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Iran is poised to re-emerge as the powerhouse of the Middle East in the 21st century. Already taking on massive export and energy diversification projects and working to acquire a nuclear weapons arsenal, Iran is likely to attain the stature of regional power in the coming years, thanks in no small measure to the vacuum created by the chaos in Iraq, which for many years served as a counterweight to Iran in the region. Gonzalez illuminates the path toward a new approach to engagement with Iran. Only then can the United States reap the benefits of a new Middle East.

But is a nuclear-armed Iran a direct strategic threat to the United States? While post-revolutionary politics have harnessed anti-Americanism as a matter of policy, Gonzalez argues that this is only a sign of a larger enterprise of democratization; a trajectory of independence, as the author calls it. This trajectory has led Iran to release itself from the shackles of foreign power intervention and has put it closer to home-grown democracy than any other nation in the Muslim Middle East. This promise of democracy, set in the wider scope of Iranian Shi'i jurisprudence and practice, is set to elevate the largest segment of Iranian society—its educated and pro-American youth—to the forefront of Iranian politics.

The Middle East is in crisis, and within every crisis lies opportunity. America must not repeat the myopic mistakes of the past. A far-sighted and grand-strategic approach to engagement with Iran promises to open doors to regional stability and political development. Only then can America, as the global superpower, reap the benefits of a new Middle East, with the Islamic Republic of Iran at the helm.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gonzalez (founder, Nationandstate.org, an open-source foreign policy think tank) calls for a new approach for US foreign policy towards Iran grounded in a more sophisticated understanding of Iran's trajectory of independence, a trajectory that may have led to violent resistance to foreign intervention but also has brought Iran closer to homegrown democracy than any country in the neighboring Arab world. He argues that this trajectory of independence has been developing for roughly the past one and a half centuries and that it is set to place Iran's increasingly educated and pro-American youth at the forefront of Iranian politics. He sets this argument next to an analysis of the legacies of recent Presidents Ahmadinejad, Khatami, and Rafsanjani and concludes his discussion with a proposal for engaging Iran and enlisting it as an American ally in the Middle East."


Reference & Research Book News

"Gonzalez deserves credit for reflecting Iranians' sentiments, self-image, national aspiration, and historical awareness. Such understanding, although essential for negotiating with Iran, is perhaps most lacking among commentators vociferously prescribing confrontation. The author's recognition of Iran's ancient cultural institutions, the effective progressive role of women from ancient times to the present following Iran's constitutional revolution, and the impromptu vigil in Tehran's streets to express sympathy for 9/11 victims is both helpful and inspiring…. Recommended. All levels."



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275997427
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/30/2007
  • Series: Praeger Security International Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.39 (w) x 9.56 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

ADAM DOLNIK is Director of Research Programs and Senior Fellow of the Centre for Transnational Crime Prevention (CTCP) at the University of Wollongong in Australia. He has served as chief trainer at the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research in Singapore, and as a researcher at the Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Project at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California and at the United Nations Terrorism Prevention Branch in Vienna, Austria. Dolnik regularly lectures for various governmental and nongovernmental organizations and agencies around the world, and has conducted field research on terrorist networks in conflict zones such as Afghanistan and the North Caucasus. He is the author of Understanding Terrorist Innovation: Technologies, Tactics, and Global Trends (2007) and contributed to James J. F. Forest's The Making of a Terrorist (Praeger, 2006).

KEITH M. FITZGERALD is Managing Director of Sea-Change Partners and Director of the Asian Programme on Negotiation and Conflict Management (APNCM) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. He is a former Associate of the Harvard Negotiation Project at Harvard Law School and at the Conflict Management Group in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a former Teaching Fellow at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He is also a member of the Council for Emerging National Security Affairs (CENSA), a virtual policy advisory think-tank based in Washington, D.C. Fitzgerald lectures widely on negotiation, conflict management, crisis leadership, and negotiating with "terrorists." As a practitioner, he has trained and advised parties and facilitated negotiationsin dozens of peace processes, hostage, barricade, and crisis negotiations in over 65 countries worldwide.

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Table of Contents

Foreword   Gary Noesner     ix
Acknowledgments     xv
Introduction     1
"New Terrorism" and the Dynamics of Barricade Hostage Crises     9
The Changing Face of the Threat     26
Nord-Ost     60
Riyadus-Salikhin Suicide Batallion     93
Beslan     109
Negotiating with the "New Terrorists"     137
Epilogue     162
Notes     165
Selected Bibliography     197
Index     199
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2007

    A Quick and interesting Read

    I found this book to be very helpful in laying out the myths of perception we in the west have about Iran. This book gives a concise grounding in the history of Iran, as a pawn in great power struggles and the growth and changes in Shi'a and Islamic faith in the region. I believe the grounding is complete enough that explanations of issues around today's geopolitics are easier to understand and judge. I like the reminder that we need to plan for 'long term end states' that we desire in any political conflict. This was so clearly a failure in the U.S. adventure in Iraq. And we need to remember this in our dealings with Iran. It is important, as the author points out to us, to paint real images of those we think of as enemies, instead of dealing in stereotypes. The last section, Part III, is devoted to detailing and proposing new policy approaches between the U.S. and Iran . These include a modified 'Nixon Doctrine', approaches to maintaining 'American Hegemony' and theories about democracies not going to war against each other. Some conclusions left me questioning some underlying assumptions but I recommend this books for its illuminating and provocative ideas.

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