January 4, 2008


Beyond the bombast: a review of The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran by Yossi Melman and Meir Javedanfar (David Isenberg, 1/05/08, Asia Times)

The authors, Yossi Melman and Meir Javedanfar, have the distinction of being two of the best-informed observers you've never heard of. Melman is an investigative reporter with Israel's Ha'aretz newspaper. To those who follow the doings of spy agencies he is known worldwide for his reporting on Israel's intelligence operations. Meir Javedanafar is an Iranian-born Middle East analyst specializing in Iranian affairs.

As much of the debate over Iran is driven by the fear, or paranoia, that Iran might someday have and use nuclear weapons against Israel, having both Israeli and Iranian perspectives from people who know each country intimately is invaluable.

When it comes to a subject like a nation's possible nuclear weapons, parsing technical capabilities is not enough. One must also consider the background and personality of the political leaders, their life experiences and world view, their geopolitical ambitions, the county's relations with other nations, and the domestic politics of the country.

In all these areas this book stands out. The first chapter tracing Ahmadinejad's life from birth through school and university studies, duties during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, through his time as mayor of Tehran to when he declared his candidacy for president, gives invaluable insights into his personality and psychology.

Chapter three, detailing his religious beliefs and how they affect his views on both governing Iran and dealing with the greater world, notably Israel, is equally valuable.

Chapter four details some of the domestic economic issues Ahmadinejad is confronting as president and his battles with political rivals such as former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. Economically, most Iranians are embattled enough, so it is far from certain that Ahmadinejad can continue to count on popular support.

...the Iranians will take care ofAhmedinejad.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 4, 2008 10:52 AM
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