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From 1997 until 2005, Mousavian was Iran’s lead negotiator in talks between the Islamic Republic and the international community over Iran’s nuclear program. He has produced an analysis of the situation free of hyperbole or bombast that contrasts the bargaining strategies of Iran’s pragmatists, of whom Mousavian is a proponent, and its hard-liner “principlists,” represented by Ahmadinejad. Mousavian is a staunch defender of Iran’s basic goal of mastering the nuclear fuel cycle, and his book leaves the reader with the strong impression that the West is not dealing with a set of messianic lunatics in Tehran.
Crist plumbs some declassified documents on U.S.-Iranian relations, but if his book reveals any secrets, they hardly jolt the reader upright. The book strings together a series of vignettes bereft of a master narrative, hopping between naval encounters in the Persian Gulf and policy developments in Washington. As a result, the whole is less than the sum of its parts.
Surveying U.S. Middle East policy since the era of Franklin Roosevelt, Gerges sees a constant tussle between “regionalists,” who are highly sensitive to the peculiarities of the Middle East, and “globalists,” whose approach to the region has stressed the unquestioning backing of Israel, first as a Cold War ally and later as a partner in the “war on terror.” The globalists have generally prevailed, never more so than during the George W. Bush years.
In this book, Ramadan uses the Arab uprisings of 2011 as a pretext to revisit themes raised in his earlier writings. He sees almost every event in recent Middle Eastern history as serving a neoliberal order that favors regional stability, corporate interests, and Israel’s survival -- and as the result of a neoliberal plot, a common view in the Arab world.
The book’s title issues a stark indictment; the text methodically and dispassionately sustains it. The fact that a Turkish historian with access to the Ottoman archives has written this book is of immeasurable significance.