Iran's Military Forces in Transition: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction

Greenwood Publishing Group
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Iran today is still struggling with the legacy of its own Islamic revolution, and is deeply divided between the moderates who enjoy broad public support and the conservatives who control the levers of power. The mixed policies that result are reflected in Iran's ambivalent military posture. In recent years, Iran has only conducted a limited build-up of its armed forces and has cut defense spending and arms imports. On the other hand, Iran has developed a carefully focused program that threatens shipping in the lower Gulf and the world's oil exports. It has strengthened its capability for unconventional warfare and continues to be a significant proliferator, setting up indigenous military industries and developing a greater ability to import weapons. In this authoritative analysis of interest to Middle Eastern specialists and military affairs experts alike, Anthony Cordesman concludes that the continuation of Iran's current defensive security posture depends as much on these economic factors as on the outcomes of domestic political rivalries.

Iran may eventually limit any military expansion to a necessary defensive strength and set strategic goals for itself that are compatible with the legitimate interests of other nations, or it may choose a more aggressive course. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, argues Cordesman, it does no good to either demonize or excuse Iranian policies. Instead, the United States and other nations with interests in the Middle East and Central Asia need to deal realistically with Iran as a reemerging regional power.

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About the author

ANTHONY H. CORDESMAN is Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a military analyst for ABC News. A frequent commentator on National Public Radio, he is the author of numerous books on security issues and has served in a number of senior positions in the US government.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Greenwood Publishing Group
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Published on
Dec 31, 1999
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Pages
432
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ISBN
9780275965297
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / General
Political Science / Comparative Politics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This book explains the foreign policy decisions of Iranian leaders, as well as the foreign policy decisions of its neighbors and major world powers. Iran is not treated primarily as a problem to be dealt with by the United States and its friends. There is an effort to understand not only the concerns and policies of the United States and its allies, but also to understand Iranian concerns and policy. Thus, this book is better able than many others to explain the actions, reactions, and interactions of all the relevant actors and to explore the prospects for future war or peace.

Mattair provides a comprehensive analysis of Iran's relations with its neighbors and major world powers. He begins with a review of Iran's foreign relations from the time of Iran's founding in the 5th century B.C. through the Islamic era beginning in the mid-600's A.D., and the native dynasties that ruled in more recent centuries as Iran faced challenges from foreign powers such as the Ottoman Empire and Western colonial empires. The rule of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, from 1941 until 1979, is analyzed in detail, covering his efforts to deter aggression by the Soviet Union, forge an alliance with the United States, assert Iran's power in the Persian Gulf, and exercise Iran's economic power, particularly through its oil wealth. The bulk of the book, however, focuses on the foreign relations of the Islamic Republic of Iran since 1979, during the time in which Ayatollah Khomeini and his successors have ruled. The reasons for Iran's early revolutionary activism, its antagonism toward the United States and Israel, and its war with Iraq from 1980 to 1988, are carefully examined. The reasons for international efforts to contain Iran, particularly efforts by the United States, are also analyzed. Iran's more pragmatic policies are explained, as well, including its close relations with Russia and China, its efforts to repair relations with Saudi Arabia and the other Arab states of the Gulf, its cooperation with U.S. efforts to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, and its offer of comprehensive negotiations with the United States in May 2003. Finally, Mattair analyzes the current global debate about whether diplomacy, sanctions, or military action are appropriate responses to Iran's nuclear programs, its role in Iraq and the Persian Gulf, and its resistance to Israel.

With continuing instability in Iraq, the threat of a nuclear Iran, and the ever-present reality of further terrorist attacks within its own borders, Saudi Arabia has been forced to make some hard decisions. The current structure of the Saudi security apparatus is only one pathway to improved security. Economic and demographic threats may well be the hardest hurdles to overcome. What has been accomplished since 2001 and what are the real prospects and implications of further reform? To what extent should the kingdom continue to rely on the US to protect its interests?

Cordesman and Obaid argue that it is time to put an end to client and tutorial relations. Saudi Arabia must emerge as a true partner. This will require the creation of effective Saudi forces for both defense and counterterrorism. Saudi Arabia has embarked on a process of political, economic, and social reforms that reflects a growing understanding by the governing members of the royal family, Saudi technocrats, and Saudi businessmen that Saudi Arabia must reform and diversify its economy and must create vast numbers of new jobs for its young and growing population. There is a similar understanding that economic reform must be combined with some level of political and social reform if Saudi Arabia is to remain stable in the face of change. With Gulf security, the war on terrorism, and the security of some sixty percent of the world's oil reserves at stake, the real question is how quickly Saudi Arabia can change and adapt its overall approach to security, and how successful it will be in the process.

The proliferation of ballistic missiles that can deliver weapons of mass destruction halfway across the world is a matter of growing urgency and concern, as is the fate of agreements limiting the development of such deadly weapons. The Bush administration�s scrapping of the ABM Treaty and pursuit of a huge National Missile Defense initiative are dramatic evidence of this concern. Yet there remains much uncertainty about the viability of missile defense. If defenses fall short, strong security regimes will be necessary to contain missile proliferation.

Since 1987, more than thirty states have agreed to restrict their transfer of missiles and related technologies under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). During the MTCR�s first decade, several regional powers were thwarted from advancing their missile ambitions. Subsequently, however, states such as North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, India, and Israel have tested medium-range missiles and others have expanded their missile arsenals.

Dinshaw Mistry critically examines the successes and limitations of the MTCR, and suggests five practical ways to strengthen the regime. The author�s exhaustive research offers new and detailed insights on the technology and politics of missile programs in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Israel, Egypt, South Korea, Taiwan, and other countries. Mistry also shows how international cooperation, security regimes, and U.S. foreign policies of engagement and containment with these states can halt their missile programs.

Mistry�s book is the first comprehensive study of the MTCR and of international efforts to contain missile proliferation. Policymakers, scholars, and the general reader will find this book a valuable contribution to the subjects of arms control, ballistic missile proliferation, multilateral cooperation, and international security regimes.

For the author's update, go to http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/books/UpdateApril2009.pdf

In the bestselling tradition of The World Is Flat and The Next 100 Years, THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER will be a much discussed, contrarian, and eye-opening assessment of American power.

Near the end of the Second World War, the United States made a bold strategic gambit that rewired the international system. Empires were abolished and replaced by a global arrangement enforced by the U.S. Navy. With all the world's oceans safe for the first time in history, markets and resources were made available for everyone. Enemies became partners.

We think of this system as normal-it is not. We live in an artificial world on borrowed time.

In THE ACCIDENTAL SUPERPOWER, international strategist Peter Zeihan examines how the hard rules of geography are eroding the American commitment to free trade; how much of the planet is aging into a mass retirement that will enervate markets and capital supplies; and how, against all odds, it is the ever-ravenous American economy that-alone among the developed nations-is rapidly approaching energy independence. Combined, these factors are doing nothing less than overturning the global system and ushering in a new (dis)order.

For most, that is a disaster-in-waiting, but not for the Americans. The shale revolution allows Americans to sidestep an increasingly dangerous energy market. Only the United States boasts a youth population large enough to escape the sucking maw of global aging. Most important, geography will matter more than ever in a de-globalizing world, and America's geography is simply sublime.

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