Booklist | ‘The Twilight War,’ by David Crist – NYTimes.com

This book, The Twilight War, offers helpful perspectives into the military challenges facing US/Iran relations:

Other books, notably Kenneth Pollack’s “Persian Puzzle” and David Sanger’s “Confront and Conceal,” have ably covered American foreign policy toward Iran. Mr. Crist’s stands out for its focus on the troubled relationship’s military context. For much of the 20th century, including the first decade after the 1979 revolution, Washington’s chief concern was that Iran could fall sway — or prey — to the Soviet Union. Mr. Crist reveals military contingency plans to occupy and even use nuclear weapons on Iranian soil in the event of a Soviet incursion. As one C.I.A. official observed, “We now had a plan to defend those who don’t want to be defended against those who are not going to attack.”

Since radical Islam replaced Communism as America’s chief ideological foe, Washington’s concern is no longer Iran’s vulnerabilities but its nefarious capabilities. Mr. Crist’s assessment that policies meant to counter Iranian influence, most notably the 2003 removal of Saddam Hussein, have often had the opposite effect isn’t a novel argument.

What distinguishes “The Twilight War” is its granularity — the book is based on more than 300 interviews and has 45 pages of endnotes — which will reward careful readers with revealing anecdotes. When the former United States ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker expresses surprise that the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, considered by many to be an Iranian lackey, doesn’t speak Persian, Mr. Maliki responds, “You don’t know how bad it can be until you’re an Arab forced to live with the Persians!”

via ‘The Twilight War,’ by David Crist – NYTimes.com.

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