With the Iranian revolution as her focal point, Seliktar offers a systematic analysis of predictive failure in foreign policy at the paradigmatic, policy, and intelligence levels. Seliktar first examines how social science paradigms determine conceptualizations of political change, and then applies that analysis to understanding New Internationalism, the Carter administration's foreign policy philosophy at the time of the Shah's fall from power. Based in part on classified documents seized during the takeover of the American embassy, Failing the Crystal Ball Test is a valuable addition to Middle Eastern studies, international relations, and comparative politics collections.
Seliktar engages in a general discussion of the problems entailed in correctly assessing the political legitimacy of foreign regimes, and describes the origins of New Internationalism as influenced by the New Left dependency theories. Examining President Carter's application of New Internationalism to Iran, Seliktar presents an account first of political influences on the predictive process during the early stages of revolution, and then of the administration's misreading of the likelihood of a fundamentalist regime in Teheran.