Going to Tehran
Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
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An eye-opening argument for a new approach to Iran, from two of America's most informed and influential Middle East experts
Less than a decade after Washington endorsed a fraudulent case for invading Iraq, similarly misinformed and politically motivated claims are pushing America toward war with Iran. Today the stakes are even higher: such a war could break the back of America's strained superpower status. Challenging the daily clamor of U.S. saber rattling, Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett argue that America should renounce thirty years of failed strategy and engage with Iran—just as Nixon revolutionized U.S. foreign policy by going to Beijing and realigning relations with China.
Former analysts in both the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Leveretts offer a uniquely informed account of Iran as it actually is today, not as many have caricatured it or wished it to be. They show that Iran's political order is not on the verge of collapse, that most Iranians still support the Islamic Republic, and that Iran's regional influence makes it critical to progress in the Middle East. Drawing on years of research and access to high-level officials, Going to Tehran explains how Iran sees the world and why its approach to foreign policy is hardly the irrational behavior of a rogue nation.
A bold call for new thinking, the Leveretts' indispensable work makes it clear that America must "go to Tehran" if it is to avert strategic catastrophe.
Flynt Leverett served at the National Security Council, State Department, and CIA, and is currently a professor of international affairs and law at Penn State. Hillary Mann Leverett served at the National Security Council and State Department and negotiated for the U.S. government with Iranian officials; she is now senior professorial lecturer at American University.Their writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Politico, Foreign Policy, and Washington Monthly, among other publications. They live in Northern Virginia.
A Foreign Policy Magazine "Book to Read in 2013"
"The most important thing I can say is very brief, just three words: Read this book. You’ll find a lot of information that’s not generally available or not available at all and valuable insights that are sharply at odds with conventional views in the United States, views so unchallenged they can fairly be called a ‘party line.’ This book may help, if it’s widely enough understood, to halt a very clear drift towards what could be a terrible war."
"There is a whole slew of highly dubious assumptions and narratives about Iran and the US's relationship to it that are rarely challenged in any meaningful way in standard media circles. The Leveretts and Going to Tehran are vital to thinking critically about these claims…. Both because of their expertise and their long immersion in these issues, they (and their data-filled book) deserve a prominent voice in all serious debates about Iran."
—Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian
"A reasoned, methodical critique of the ideological folklore that prevents Washington from setting up normal diplomatic relations with Tehran. The Leveretts make an ironclad case that President Barack Obama not only can, but must, "go to Iran" to establish normal diplomatic relations…Going to Tehran is likely the most important book on U.S. foreign policy in 2013."
—The Washington Spectator
"This book sheds dramatic light on the central foreign policy of the Iranian government. The Leveretts superbly outline the true intentions of Iran and the way they are using international alliances and soft power to get there."
—The Huffington Post
"The most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations thus far…Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis to argue against those policies more effectively."
"Going to Tehran arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations to be published thus far…. Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis to argue against those policies more effectively."
"An unorthodox analysis of Iran and a scathing criticism of the US’s foreign policy….US policy-makers need to hear criticisms like these."
"The Leveretts present a long and unrelenting history of incompetence and irrationality . . . from the U.S. side"
—Let’s Try Democracy (blog)
"A sharply different deconstruction of the prevailing orthodoxy, worthy of attention."
"One needn’t agree with every word in Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett’s new book, Going to Tehran, to grasp its basic truth: U.S. Iran policy is delusional. To shatter this ‘sorry Scheme of Things,’ as the Persian poet describes it, will require a U.S. President with courage, audacity and political skill. It will also require a plan not too different from what the Leveretts lay out."
—Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell
"This brilliant book eviscerates the American case for continued belligerence toward Iran. The evidence of an Iranian bomb is just not there, the Leveretts write, and American diplomacy should be focused on resolving the conflict, and not expanding it. There is a precedent—Nixon and Kissinger's stunning reversal of policy toward China in 1971 that produced the Shanghai Communique, with its public call for mutual respect and a reduction of tensions. It is time, the book concludes, for an American president to reach for peace and go to Tehran."
—Seymour Hersh, staff writer, The New Yorker
"This courageous and important book contains the three elements that are necessary for a rethinking of US policy towards Iran: a rigorous critique of the intellectual foundations of present strategy; a devastating expose of misreporting of Iran in the Western media; and a set of bold ideas for how the present dangerous impasse in relations can be broken. It should be essential reading for policymakers and journalists alike."
—Anatol Lieven, professor of War Studies, King's College London; senior fellow of the New America Foundation
"Armchair warriors howling to have a go at Iran will denounce this book: you can count on it. Those who have had a bellyful of needless wars will have a different view. Going to Tehran is balanced, sober, impressively documented, and rich in insight. As an antidote to the warmongering that passes for analysis of Iran and US-Iranian relations, its appearance could hardly be more welcome or more timely."
—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War