Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Iran and the United States: An Insider's View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Iran and the United States: An Insider's View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace

Article excerpt

Iran and the United States: An Insider's View on the Failed Past and the Road to Peace. By Seyed Hossein Mousavian with Shahir Shahidsaless. New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 344 pp. $35.

Just what do Iranian leaders think about the United States and the ongoing disputes over Tehran's nuclear program and the Middle East peace process? If Mousavian, former spokesman for Iran's nuclear negotiating team and a polished Iranian diplomat, is to be believed, the Islamic Republic is a pragmatic, rational actor misunderstood by a generation of U.S. policymakers.

Impediments to reconciliation, however, do not lie in misunderstanding. The problem is that Americans know the Islamic Republic all too well. They know of its support for terrorism, the "Death to America" rallies, and the missiles draped with banners promising to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Although a succession of former U.S. officials-Obama appointee Vali Nasr, former Carter aide Gary Sick, and career diplomat Thomas Pickering-testify to the book's importance in elucidating the Iranian perspective, what they and Mousavian actually do is promote a sanitized and perverted narrative of history.

The truth about the 2002 seizure of the Karine-A, a ship carrying fifty tons of Iranian weaponry destined for the Palestinian Authority? Simply an Israeli disinformation plot, Mousavian claims. Never mind that the ship had been tracked from the moment of its loading at an Iranian port. The Khobar Towers truck bomb that killed nineteen U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia? The real tragedy, it seems, was that the Clinton team wrongly fingered Iran, which sidetracked real opportunities for diplomacy. Forget the fact that U.S. intelligence conclusively showed Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps training the terrorists who carried out the attack. …

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