The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran is out at the right time.
With Iran hurrying towards becoming a nuclear power, open conflict, whether it's Israel or the United States attacking the Persian state, seems likely. How did we get here? Federal government historian David Crist, who spent ten years writing this volume, explains
Iran has been a headache for every US president since Jimmy Carter. It arguably ended his presidency and the Iran-Contra scandal was the biggest blemish of the Reagan administration.
Naïveté, unfortunately still dominates America's Iranian policy. Carter's indecisiveness hastened the fall of the Shah. Reagan inherited a CIA that viewed the Iranian faceoff and Tehran's perfidies in places such as Lebanon as proxy struggles of the Cold War.
Crist largely praises President Obama's approach with Iran. However, I have to point out that Obama could have rallied the 2009 Green Revolution protesters with one of his great speeches. But as we've learned, Obama prefers to utilize his rhetorical flourishes for situations when he knows he's going to win--or when he's raising money. Supporters of Democratic governor Tom Barrett shook their heads when Obama flew over Wisconsin between some Minnesota and Illinois campaign fundraisers four days before the Scott Walker recall election . Barrett, however, did get a show of support from a Tweet the day before the election, which is more than the Iranian protesters got from Obama.
Crist superbly recounts the brutality of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. For instance, after the Iranians advanced into a march near Basra, the Iraqis electrocuted hundreds of enemy soldiers. Their bodies were later used to build roads.
My lesson from the Twilight War is that our national security apparatus needs to be on guard for the unexpected. With few Middle Eastern experts in senior positions within our intelligence community in the 1970s--our Iranian missteps, which continue to this day, are the predictable outcome.
Technorati tags: Politics books cultureterrorism farsi iran Persian current affairs