Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic
“Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic is a clearly written, well-researched, and scholarly work that will be of benefit to anyone with a genuine interest in this strong and influential nation.”
At the present time, the United States is increasing its already extreme and irrational rhetoric of violence against Iran. This raises two important questions: 1) What is it that President Donald Trump and his war-mongering minions fear from a nation that hasn’t invaded another country since 1798? And 2) What exactly is the Islamic Republic of Iran? In Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic, Amin Saikal answers both questions.
Saikal discusses the history of Iran, and demonstrates how both internal and external conditions led to the successful revolution of 1979. He meticulously documents the political history of the nation, including U.S. interference, most significantly, perhaps, the U.S.-sponsored overthrow of the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. The U.S. then installed its own puppet, the Shah of Iran, who danced to the U.S.’s tune as he brutally oppressed the Iranian people.
After 26 years, conditions for revolution were ripe. Saikal discusses how a diverse nation of tens of billions of people were able to unite, to face off with the most powerful and violent country on the planet, depose the leader appointed and upheld by that country, and transform the nation to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
But this is not a book about the revolution; that is just one aspect to the complex nation that is Iran. With careful and detailed research, we learn of the challenges Iran’s new governmental leaders faced once they took power. We are taught of the sources of its power today, the “soft power,” “. . . particularly its ties to subnational groups and transnational networks . . .” that “have played a major role in expanding both Iran’s real and perceived influence in the region,” as well as the hard power, including the Artesh (army) responsible for the defense of the nation’s territorial sovereignty, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), responsible for “the defense of the revolution, the Islamic order, and national security.”
Iran’s foreign relations are discussed and detailed, and it is here that we find the key to U.S. hostility. The United States is “. . . seriously discomforted by Iran’s role in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Syria, where Tehran’s support for the Bashar al-Assad regime has undermined the U.S.’s position and influence and demonstrated America’s increasing impotence to shape the region in the face of changing circumstances.” Iran’s strengthening alliance with Russia, another cause for U.S. concern, is also detailed.
The book is a fascinating study of a nation vilified by the West, which would, it seems, prefer to invent Iranian crimes rather than face its own and that of its allies. But Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic doesn’t unequivocally praise modern day Iran or its leaders. Saikal states that the challenges of a government in transition from a brutal dictatorship to a theocracy with strong democratic components, with an extremely large and diverse population, were not always successfully handled.
For example, he points out three issues that have stymied economic development: 1) a two-tiered political system “. . . which has given birth to a multitude of competing and sometimes conflicting institutions;” 2) A focus on full employment and social welfare, which has led to inefficiency in employment, and 3) “. . . the size and dominance of the public sector, which has produced a restricted environment for foreign investment.”
But Iran is too large and too important a nation to dismiss, or to leave to the disposal of an unstable U.S. president. The European Union, a signatory to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, shares significant interests with Iran, including a desire to see stability in the Middle East, along with the EU’s view that Iran can serve as a key player in resolving regional conflicts. Additionally, the EU and Iran share economic interests, which can serve to benefit the people of Europe and the people of Iran.
Iran Rising: The Survival and Future of the Islamic Republic is a clearly written, well-researched, and scholarly work that will be of benefit to anyone with a genuine interest in this strong and influential nation.