Book Review: Iran and the United States: An Insider’s View of the Failed Past and the Road to Peace

There cannot be progress toward a worthwhile cooperative security architecture for the Middle East region unless the Iranian system, in all its multi-faceted complexity, arrives at the conclusion that such outcomes are to Iran’s overall strategic advantage, or at least are compatible with Iranian interests. Building a reasonably predictable basis for engagement between Iran and the United States on regional security issues, including of course in regard to the search for an agreed outcome on the Iranian nuclear program, Iraq and Syria, is among the major challenges facing the regional outlook. Iranian perceptions of the United States and US regional agendas need to be understood in considerable depth.

The publication by Iranian diplomat and negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian of an analysis, from an Iranian perspective, of past failures in the management of the US-Iran relationship is therefore noteworthy. As could be expected from a seasoned foreign policy practitioner, Mousavian’s account of the relationship with the United States is far from balanced: in some respects it is at least as much a matter of advocacy or gentle chiding of US approaches as it is of history. It is, nevertheless, a significant insight into the world view of a senior Iranian official with considerable exposure to both western interlocutors and the Iranian leadership.

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“Iran and the United States: An Insider’s View of the Failed Past and the Road to Peace,” Bob Bowker, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, The Australian National University, June 12, 2015.