In This Review

Treacherous  Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States
Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States
By Trita Parsi
Yale University Press, 2007, 384 pp.

This is much more than a now-it-can-be-told story of treachery and alliances, as the title would suggest. It is a well-constructed history of the strategies Iran and Israel have adopted toward each other from the time of Iran's last shah to the present -- and the ongoing dealings of each with the United States. Iran's close relations with Israel during the Pahlavi period came to an abrupt halt with the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979. But Israeli efforts to rebuild ties with Iran began immediately, as Islamic Iran developed a strategy much more focused on maintaining a balance of power in the Middle East than its public rhetoric supporting Islam and the Palestinian cause would suggest. Many maneuvers by each have followed since. Well researched and enriched by a hefty number of interviews with U.S., Iranian, and Israeli officials who explain what their governments were thinking and doing at the time, this book offers a judiciously balanced account. There is, of course, no need to stress the utility of viewing Middle Eastern politics from the perspective of Iran and Israel. This is also a useful way to tie together such discrete issues as Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Iran-contra affair, the 1981 Israeli bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear site, and much more -- including the present Israeli push for forceful action against Iran's nuclear plans.