In This Review

Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran
Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran
By Kenneth M. Pollack, Daniel L. Byman, Martin Indyk, Suzanne M
Brookings Institution Press, 2009, 220 pp

Which Path to Persia? presents four possible approaches for U.S. policy toward Iran: a diplomatic solution, a military response, regime change, and containment. Diplomacy breaks down into two options, persuasion or engagement. The three military options are an all-out invasion, U.S. air strikes, or allowing an Israeli strike. Regime change also comes in three varieties: supporting a popular uprising, inspiring an insurgency, or backing a military coup. The fourth approach, containment, is described as the United States' customary default position. None, the authors insist, is unambiguously better than the others, and none has a clearly higher chance of success. Having offered nine policy options bundled into four categories, the authors state in their short conclusion that policymakers will (and should) embrace a number of different options. This book is the work of a group of impressive experts on Iran and the Middle East. They know, and probably reflect, the mindset of U.S. policymakers. All the more reason to be disturbed that they place military strikes and regime change on a par with diplomacy and containment.