Saved Anthologies

Foreign Affairs Anthology Series

Best International Relations Books of 2013


All anthologies are free when you subscribe

Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy

In This Review

Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy
By Kenneth Pollack
Simon & Schuster, 2013
560 pp. $30.00

This book will be read carefully in Tehran, Washington, and Tel Aviv. Pollack lays out the strategic factors the United States must take into account when deciding how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program, covering nearly all contingencies, including military action. He argues forcefully that, should negotiations fail, Washington should opt for containment instead of military action. His case is lucid and compelling; he reminds readers that a U.S. air campaign that failed to set back Iran’s nuclear development for more than several years would probably lead to a U.S. ground invasion that would make the Iraq war look relatively simple. More provocatively, Pollack advocates combining containment with efforts at regime change, arguing that Iran does not moderate when the pressure is off but rather when it is high. He dismisses the idea that so long as Iran’s supreme leader believes the United States seeks to end the Islamic Republic, he and his supporters will have little incentive to reach agreement with Washington on the nuclear issue. Iran, Pollack argues, is aggressive but rational. It would not use nuclear weapons unprovoked. It would not share them with third parties such as Hezbollah. It would only use them to defend itself.

Enjoy more high quality articles like this one.

Become a Subscriber

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles posted daily online and almost a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.