In This Review

Trump and Iran: From Containment to Confrontation
Trump and Iran: From Containment to Confrontation
By Nader Entessar and Kaveh L. Afrasiabi
Lexington Books, 2019, 288 pp

Written before the assassination of the Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, this book assesses the change in the United States’ approach to Iran from the Obama administration to the Trump administration. Under Barack Obama, the United States and other major powers negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to contain Iran’s presumed nuclear ambitions. That deal, however, did little to curb the role of Iranian proxies in the wider region. Under Donald Trump—and especially following the appointments of John Bolton as national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state—Washington shifted from containment to a more hostile posture, with the goal of regime change and the possibility of military confrontation very much on the table. The Trump administration has also promoted joint Israeli and Saudi regional hegemony to counter Tehran’s influence. Entessar and Afrasiabi do a fine job of parsing the technical aspects of the nuclear deal, as well as the recent efforts of China, Russia, and European powers to dilute the effects of new U.S. sanctions on Iran. Although the authors underline the limitations of Obama’s approach to Iran, they clearly prefer it to Trump’s more coercive policy. They suggest that Iran is too big and well rooted in the region to succumb to Trump’s campaign of “maximum pressure.”