Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs

Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs

Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs

Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs

Synopsis

In this exploration of the relationship between Iran and the world since the Shah was overthrown in 1979, Takeyh shows that behind the famous personalities and extremist slogans is a nation that is far more pragmatic--and complex--that many in the West have been led to believe.

Excerpt

“The late Imam was the greatest political and military analyst and a great politician. Imam Khomeini was the best possible pattern for all people in all ages and eras,” declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2008. It is rare for a revolutionary leader to exercise such influence over the imagination of his successors two decades after his passing. However, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was no ordinary leader, as his vision and words continue to resonate with generations of Iranian politicians. All of this raises the following questions: What kind of a state is the Islamic Republic of Iran? Is it still a revolutionary regime bent on upending the prevailing order, or is it prepared to accommodate the mandates of the international community? The truth lies somewhere in between. More than any other Middle Eastern country, Iran defies easy characterization. The best way of understanding the Islamic Republic’s priorities is to expand the canvass and assess its foreign policy over the entire duration of its existence. Only through such an exercise can we come to terms with the complexities and contradictions that have shaped Iran’s approach to the world.

Iran is an intact, ancient nation that has sought for centuries to define its place in the Middle East. Successive dynasties perceived that by virtue of its advanced civilization, location, and demography Iran had the right to dominate the region. The notion that Iran’s hegemonic claims began with the revolution is a misreading of history. The shahs were just as adamant about pursuing Iran’s national aspirations as the mullahs who displaced the monarchy. To the hubris of preeminence one must add the insecurity of isolation. As a Persian, Shiite nation struggling in an Arab, Sunni Middle . . .

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