BITTER FRIENDS, BOSOM ENEMIES by Barbara Slavin

BITTER FRIENDS, BOSOM ENEMIES

Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation
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KIRKUS REVIEW

What, us worry about WMDs? USA Today senior diplomatic correspondent Slavin assures that the worries are overwrought: “For all its incendiary rhetoric, Iran is the Rodney Dangerfield of Middle Eastern nations.”

That means, of course, that Iran gets no respect, or so its leaders believe, and striving for that respect and recognition can force a nation into moral, ethical and political compromises. An especially curious one, says Slavin, is Iran’s development of nuclear capability: “Iranians hoping for reconciliation with the United States saw diplomatic promise in their nuclear progress.” Huh? According to a Tehran editorialist, some semblance of parity would mean that the United States would take the Iranian government seriously, even though most of the editorialist’s compatriots were more concerned with improving the economy than spending money on a nuclear deterrent. Indeed, says one Iranian foreign-policy expert, “If we had 100 billion euros of European investment in Iran . . . Iran would never even think to divert nuclear enrichment because the damage would be huge for Iran.” Slavin allows that the mullahs and ayatollahs and reactionaries within Iran are implacably anti-American, which may make rapprochement seem unlikely. But, she adds, ordinary people and a growing number of political types have a friendly attitude toward Americans, in part because of their “links to a diaspora of nearly a million people in the United States”—to say nothing of “little regard for Arabs.” So what is to be done? The author encourages diplomacy and patience, noting that there are political divisions in play in Iran that may yield an opening should the “executives of construction” or the “Islamic Participation Front” come to power in place of the current “neoconservative” Ahmadinejad regime. The alternative would be terrible for both countries, she concludes. As one Iranian woman-on-the-street tells Slavin in an interview, “We don’t want anything bad to happen. Pray for us. We always pray for you.”

A timely read, particularly for inside-the-Beltway types who, one hopes, are paying attention.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-36825-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2007