IRAN: Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos

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IRAN Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos, by Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2005. ix + 162 pages. Notes p. 195. Index to p. 203. $24.95.

In Eternal Iran, Patrick Clawson and Michael Rubin discuss the history of modern Iran, focusing on the strengths and deficiencies of its leaders and institutions, in addition to the views of the regime's defenders and critics. Known for their strong policy background, the authors concentrate on the causes and effects of the Iranian policymaking machine's interacting with a number of domestic and international variables. The book concludes with a summary of the main arguments followed by three scenarios about Tehran's prospects for the future.

Clawson and Rubin divide this book into nine easy-to-read chapters, which are aimed for the general public. Eternal Iran begins by highlighting the uniqueness of Iran in comparison to its neighbors as well as its significance as a regional power and for the West. They correctly point to the contradictions that have existed in Iranian society for centuries and that have continued and widened under the Islamic Republic. In chapter 1, the authors examine Iran's social history in order to uncover the roots of Iranian politics and policies. In chapter 2, they trace the historical development of Iran from the establishment of the Persian Empire (559 BC) to the end of the Safavid Empire in 1736. The next chapter covers the Qajar period (1781-1925), which is often associated with Iran's decline, though the authors cleverly claim that the Qajar Kings were not given enough credit for starting the modernization process. Chapter 4 examines the Pahlavi Dynasty from Reza Khan's emergence in 1921 as the preeminent political figure in Iran to the CIA-supported 1953 coup (p. 65) against Prime Minister Muhammad Musaddiq.

In chapter 5, the authors discuss Iran's rapid economic development process during the period 1953-1978, when the Shah both modernized and Westernized the country. However, as the authors emphasize, the Shah failed to match such efforts with political modernization (p. 85). In chapter 6, Clawson and Rubin investigate the Khomeini era (1979-1989), known as the "First Islamic Republic," a period that includes significant events from the Islamic Revolution to the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), which devastated the economy. The next chapter concentrates on the "Second Islamic Republic" (1989-2005), when Khomeini's successors attempted to put their own stamp on Iranian politics, although they did not enjoy either Ayatollah Khomeini's charisma or his legitimacy (p. …