Forever Enemies? American Policy and the Islamic Republic of Iran
By Geoffrey Kemp
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1994, 144 pp.
Iran's National Security Policy: Capabilities, Intentions and Impact
By Shahram Chubin
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1994, 106 pp.
These two policy-oriented essays are welcome additions to the discussion of how to deal with Iran. Kemp does not argue for a fundamental overhaul of policy, and he foresees continuing conflicts between the United States and Iran. He does, however, question the wisdom of having no contact with Iran, and he feels that fears of Iranian hegemony in Central Asia or the Persian Gulf are exaggerated.
Like Kemp, Chubin takes seriously the policy differences between Iran and the West, but is not particularly impressed with Iran's military capabilities. The Iranian economy is in such bad shape that eventually Iran will be obliged to abandon its hard-line policies and seek some assistance from those it now attacks. Meanwhile, Iran's bark is worse than its bite, and its nuclear capability is thankfully many years off. On the whole, these two publications invite the reader to think beyond the slogan of "dual containment" and to look at Iran in realistic terms as a country too important to ignore and less threatening than often portrayed.