by Gareth Porter
WASHINGTON -- "Going to
Tehran" arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran
relations to be published thus far.
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett* tackle not only U.S. policy toward Iran but
the broader context of Middle East policy with a systematic analytical perspective
informed by personal experience, as well as very extensive documentation.
More importantly, however, their expose required a degree of courage that may be
unparalleled in the writing of former U.S. national security officials about issues
on which they worked. They have chosen not just to criticise U.S. policy toward Iran
but to analyse that policy as a problem of U.S. hegemony.
Their national security state credentials are impeccable. They both served at
different times as senior coordinators dealing with Iran on the National Security
Council Staff, and Hillary Mann Leverett was one of the few U.S. officials who have
been authorised to negotiate with Iranian officials. . . .
In an analysis of the roots of the legitimacy of the Islamic regime, they point to
evidence that the single most important factor that swept the Khomeini movement into
power in 1979 was "the Shah's indifference to the religious sensibilities of
Iranians". That point, which conflicts with just about everything that has appeared
in the mass media on Iran for decades, certainly has far-reaching analytical
significance. . . .
They view Iran's nuclear programme as aimed at achieving the same status as Japan,
Canada and other "threshold nuclear states" which have the capability to become
nuclear powers but forego that option.
The Leveretts also point out that it is a status that is not forbidden by the nuclear
non-proliferation treaty - much to the chagrin of the United States and its anti-Iran
In a later chapter, they allude briefly to what is surely the best-kept secret about
the Iranian nuclear programme and Iranian foreign policy: the Iranian leadership's
calculation that the enrichment programme is the only incentive the United States has
to reach a strategic accommodation with Tehran. . . .
The central message of "Going to Tehran" is that the United States has been unwilling
to let go of the demand for Iran's subordination to dominant U.S. power in the
region. The Leveretts identify the decisive turning point in the U.S. "quest for
dominance in the Middle East" as the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they say
"liberated the United States from balance of power constraints". . . .
*Flynt Leverett served at the National Security Council, State Department, and CIA and is
currently a professor of International Affairs at Penn State. Hillary Man Leverett served at
the National Security Council and State Department and negotiated for the U.S. government
with Iranian officials; she is now senior professional lecturer at American University.
Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S.
national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for
2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Fifty years ago, in a bold and far-reaching covert operation, the CIA
overthrew the elected government of Iran. Although the coup seemed
successful at first, its "haunting and terrible legacy" is now becoming
Operation Ajax . . . restored Mohammad Reza Shah to the Peacock Throne, allowing
him to impose a tyranny that ultimately sparked the Islamic Revolution of 1979.--Stephen Kinzer, "All The
Shah's Men," NPR On Point, August 20, 2003]
"Are Iran Election Protests U.S. Orchestrated?,"
The Wisdom Fund, June 21, 2009
Gordon Prather, "The U.S. Is
Violating the NPT -- Not Iran," Antiwar.com, September 26, 2009
Pepe Escobar, "Surrender Now or
We'll Bomb You Later," Asia Times, April 11, 2012
Jack Straw, "Even if Iran gets the Bomb, it won't be worth
going to war," telegraph.co.uk, February 23, 2013
Shafaat Shahbandari, "Iran's nuke threat is overhyped: UN official,"
gulfnews.com, March 6, 2013
Jonathan Steele, "In this nuclear standoff, it's the US that's the rogue state,"
guardian.co.uk, April 9, 2013