Global Security Watch—Iran
A Reference Handbook
by Thomas R. Mattair
June 2008, 224pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-99483-9
$85, £66, 74€, A117
eBook Available: 978-1-56720-757-6
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Mattair analyzes Iran’s relations with its immediate neighbors and major world powers. He covers Iran’s foreign relations from the time of its ancient founders, through the rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, which ended with the revolution of 1978–1979, and through the years of the Islamic Republic of Iran that have followed.

This book explains the foreign policy decisions of Iranian leaders, as well as the foreign policy decisions of its neighbors and major world powers. Iran is not treated primarily as a problem to be dealt with by the United States and its friends. There is an effort to understand not only the concerns and policies of the United States and its allies, but also to understand Iranian concerns and policy. Thus, this book is better able than many others to explain the actions, reactions, and interactions of all the relevant actors and to explore the prospects for future war or peace.

Mattair provides a comprehensive analysis of Iran’s relations with its neighbors and major world powers. He begins with a review of Iran’s foreign relations from the time of Iran’s founding in the 5th century B.C. through the Islamic era beginning in the mid-600’s A.D., and the native dynasties that ruled in more recent centuries as Iran faced challenges from foreign powers such as the Ottoman Empire and Western colonial empires. The rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, from 1941 until 1979, is analyzed in detail, covering his efforts to deter aggression by the Soviet Union, forge an alliance with the United States, assert Iran’s power in the Persian Gulf, and exercise Iran’s economic power, particularly through its oil wealth. The bulk of the book, however, focuses on the foreign relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1979, during the time in which Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors have ruled. The reasons for Iran’s early revolutionary activism, its antagonism toward the United States and Israel, and its war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988, are carefully examined. The reasons for international efforts to contain Iran, particularly efforts by the United States, are also analyzed. Iran’s more pragmatic policies are explained, as well, including its close relations with Russia and China, its efforts to repair relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states of the Gulf, its cooperation with U.S. efforts to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, and its offer of comprehensive negotiations with the United States in May 2003. Finally, Mattair analyzes the current global debate about whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action are appropriate responses to Iran’s nuclear programs, its role in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and its resistance to Israel.


"This volume in the 'Global Security Watch' series makes an excellent attempt to explain the reasoning behind the foreign policy decisions of the Iranian leadership, and those of its neighbors and major world powers that have contributed to the current state of affairs...This work is a must read for policy makers, Middle East scholars and students, and those wishing to have a better understanding of the US's relationship with Iran...Includes biographical profiles, a chronology, glossary, and pertinent documents...Highly recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above in history and political science."—Choice, July 1, 2009

"Dr. Mattair has written a superb, insightful work that thoroughly lays out the issues, history, and options regarding our relationship with Iran. It is a must-read for those interested in this critical problem and for those decision-makers who will decide our course of action."—General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.), Former Commander in Chief, U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000 and former Special Envoy to Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 2001-2002

"Thomas Mattair's volume on Iran is a valuable addition to the shelf of anyone seeking to understand the perplexing policy issues involving that country. Mattair provides, in a concise package, a wealth of information that is essential background for addressing those issues. The policy implications he extracts are on the mark."—Paul R. Pillar, Visiting Professor, Georgetown University, Former Deputy Director of the CIA's Counterterrorist Center from 1997 until 2000 and former chief National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 until 2005.

"This is a remarkably timely book-a meticulously researched and highly readable benchmark study of Iran that will reward readers with a comprehensive understanding of the major questions arising from Iran's past and present interactions with the United States and other major powers in the Middle East, culminating in a very fairly presented, but sobering discussion of current American policy options."—The Honorable Chas. W. Freeman, Jr., President, Middle East Policy Council, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989 to 1992 and former Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1993-1994

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