Which Path to Persia?: Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran

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Crafting a new policy toward Iran is a complicated, uncertain, and perilous challenge. Since it is an extremely complex society, with an opaque political system, it is no wonder that the United States has not yet figured out the puzzle that is Iran. With the clock ticking on Iran's pursuit of nuclear capabilities, solving this puzzle is more urgent than ever.

In Which Path to Persia? a group of experts with the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings lays out the courses of action available to the United States. What are the benefits and drawbacks of airstrikes? Can engagement be successful? Is regime change possible? In answering such questions, the authors do not argue for one approach over another. Instead, they present the details of the policies so that readers can understand the complexity of the challenge and decide for themselves which course the
United States should take.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this straightforward and jargon-free book, six American commentators and policy analysts offer a menu of options that Washington can pursue in its dealings with Tehran." — Library Journal

"Pollack, research director for the Saban Center, collaborates with five colleagues for this timely and cogent analysis of U.S.-Iranian relations.... [they] carefully identify the potential missteps facing policymakers in this valuable-if wonky-primer." — Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Pollack (A Path Out of the Desert), research director for the Saban Center, collaborates with five colleagues for this timely and cogent analysis of U.S.-Iranian relations. Dismissing past U.S. policy as “not particularly impressive,” the authors point to “an emerging consensus... that the Obama administration will have to adopt a new policy toward Iran.” To that end, they identify nine approaches ranging from diplomacy to military action and containment (“the default U.S. policy toward Iran since the Islamic Revolution”) and lay out the objectives, costs, pros and cons for each. Avoiding advocacy, the authors lament that all the alternatives are “unpalatable” and “no course is unambiguously better” than the others. They further acknowledge that Iran's nuclear ambitions represent an “existential threat” to Israel and that Israel remains a “wild card” in any consideration of Iranian policy. U.S.-Iranian relations have long been a minefield, and Pollack and his collaborators carefully identify the potential missteps facing policymakers in this valuable—if wonky—primer. (Sept.)
Library Journal
As President Obama embarks on a path of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and other foreign policy issues, there remain many uncertainties. In this straightforward and jargon-free book, six American commentators and policy analysts offer a menu of options that Washington can pursue in its dealings with Tehran. They focus on four types of policy options—diplomatic, military, regime change, and containment—analyzing substrategies under each of these broad policy variables and assessing the pros and cons of each course of action. The book is useful in laying out in clear terms the varying Iran policies that have been promoted by Washington insiders. Those who have been following U.S.-Iranian relations recently will be familiar with the options discussed here, but may appreciate the clear overview, Recommended for interested general readers and students.—NE
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815703419
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 7/13/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 241
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Kenneth M. Pollack is director of research at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. His books include A Path out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East (Random House).

Daniel L. Byman
is a senior fellow at the Saban Center, director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University, and author of The Five Front War: The Better Way to Fight Global Jihad (Wiley).

Martin Indyk
is director of the Saban Center, former U.S. ambassador to Israel,
and the author of Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East (Simon & Schuster).

Suzanne Maloney
is a senior fellow at the Saban Center. She has worked on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff where she provided analysis of Middle East issues.

Michael E. O'Hanlon
is a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies at Brookings and author of Budgeting for Hard Power (Brookings).

Saban Center Senior Fellow Bruce Riedel served as chairman of President Obama's Strategic Review of U.S. Policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan and is the author of The Search for al Qaeda (Brookings).

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Table of Contents

Introduction The trouble with Tehran : U.S. policy options toward Iran 1

1 An offer Iran shouldn't refuse : persuasion 31

2 Tempting Tehran : the engagement option 57

3 Going all the way : invasion 87

4 The Osiraq option : airstrikes 103

5 Leave it to Bibi : allowing or encouraging an Israeli military strike 125

6 The velvet revolution : supporting a popular uprising 143

7 Inspiring an insurgency : supporting Iranian minority and opposition groups 157

8 The coup : supporting a military move against the regime 170

9 Accepting the unacceptable : containment 183

Conclusion Crafting an integrated Iran policy : connecting the options 201

Notes 217

Authors 227

Index 231

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