Parthian Shot

Iran was a glorious empire, but has also been a conquered nation. This complex mixture of pride and insecurity continues to define the Republic.

Issue: May-June 2009

From the May/June 2009 issue of The National Interest.


Ray Takeyh, Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World in the Age of the Ayatollahs (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 328 pp., $27.95.

Steven R. Ward, Immortal: A Military History of Iran and Its Armed Forces (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2009), 380 pp., $29.95.


IN AN episode in Ray Takeyh's newest book, a government contemplates invading Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Saddam cannot be trusted, argue several of the decision makers. "Given the slightest opportunity Saddam will continue his aggression," says one of them. The most senior decision maker declares that the oppressed Iraqi people would, if freed from tyrannical rule, opt for a political system in line with his own values. Moreover, people throughout the Middle East would choose such a system if given the chance. The government decides to launch the invasion-with little planning for what would follow a defeat of Saddam's army, no expectation of a prolonged and costly occupation, and a belief that Iraqis would welcome the invaders as liberators.

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