Guide Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs

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Not assumption, but usurpation, say the quietists. And so on, ad infinitum.


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Homa Katouzian, an Iranian scholar long resident in England, is not daunted by these historical quarrels. A poet, and a superb critic of poetry, he brings to the story of his country a species of literary learning that is all but extinct outside Iran.

Recognising, no doubt, that there is small appetite among western readers for the sectarian struggles of the early Shia, the revolving dynasties of medieval Khorasan and the civil wars of the 18th century, Katouzian devotes more than half the book to the period after Here he uncovers sources all but unknown to non-Iranians and still has time and breath for a close analysis of the disputed presidential election last June.

Katouzian shows traces of youthful European intellectual influences, such as Marxism and political economy, but they are no more than mud on a traveller's duster.

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The first he now finds quite useless. The Soviets misunderstood Reza in as comprehensively as Khomeini in As for political economy, Muhammad Reza's later agricultural policy or Ahmadinejad's subsidies and hand-outs are drawn from a world beyond the reach of mere intellect. It is the old revenue thing, but in reverse: not shortage, but futile superabundance. What Katouzian has in strong measure is a peculiarly Persian dialectic, which is often illuminating, as when he shows that "traditional" women, at the revolution, became modernised while "modern" women were forced to become traditional, at least in public.

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For Katouzian, what unites these 3, years of history and makes them intelligible is arbitrary government, short-term, violent and insecure. There was never a feudal system, or a hereditary aristocracy.

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What is permanent is impermanence. For all their frantic air of timelessness, institutions such as the Qom seminary rise and are destroyed in two generations. Tradition is manufactured as easily as modernity, and the only authenticities are His Excellency the Executioner and the mole on the Beloved's face. State and society are at perpetual daggers drawn.

Iran Takes on the World

Takeyh was recently senior adviser to the special adviser for the Gulf and Southwest Asia at the U. Department of State. In this book, he explains that the task at hand is to create a situation where Iran sees benefit in limiting its ambitions. Politics and Government.

Tracing the course of Iranian policy since the revolution, Takeyh explores four distinct periods in his book: the revolutionary era of the s; the death of Ayatollah Khomeini and the end of the Iran-Iraq war in ; the "reformist" period from to under President Mohammad Khatami; and the policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei. From this account, Takeyh illustrates that Iran's policies are, in reality, a series of compromises between conservatives and moderates.

Looking ahead, Takeyh says that "Iran has entered the twenty-first century in an enviable position…[and] has now emerged as a leading power of the Middle East, whereby its preferences and predilections have to be taken into consideration as the region contemplates its future. Further, Takeyh posits that an engagement strategy with Iran need not jeopardize the United States' relationships with other nations.

Such a framework can involve a treaty that pledges the inviolability of the borders, arms-control pacts that proscribe certain categories of weapons, a common market with free-trade zones, and a mechanism for adjudicating disputes. Anyone who wants to understand what's going on in Iran must read the terrific Guardians of the Revolution An excellent way to take the measure of revolutionary Iran today is to read this up-to-date, well-researched, and perceptive history of its foreign policy since Anyone wishing to understand why restored American-Iranian ties are so elusive, but also so critical, should turn to this important work, a riveting and consistently insightful study of revolutionary Iran and its still troubled place in the world.

Guardians of the Revolution is a 'must read' for policy makers in Iran, in the United States, and throughout the world.

Iran Takes on the World - by Jamsheed K. Choksy

Tracing the course of Iranian policy since the revolution, Takeyh identifies four distinct periods: the revolutionary era of the s, the tempered gradualism following the death of Khomeini and the end of the Iran-Iraq war in , the "reformist" period from under President Khatami, and the shift toward confrontation and radicalism since the election of President Ahmadinejad in Takeyh shows that three powerful forces--Islamism, pragmatism, and great power pretensions--have competed in each of these periods, and that Iran's often paradoxical policies are in reality a series of compromises between the hardliners and the moderates, often with wild oscillations between pragmatism and ideological dogmatism.

The U. With its clear-sighted grasp of both nuance and historical sweep, Guardians of the Revolution will stand as the standard work on this controversial--and central--actor in world politics for years to come. Customer Reviews. Write a review.

Guardians of the Revolution

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