Share this
PREVIOUS ARTICLE ALL CONTENTS Next ARTICLE

Understanding Shiite Leadership: The Art of the Middle Ground in Iran and Lebanon, Shaul Mishal and Ori Goldberg

Reviewed by Michael M.J. Fischer

BUY

 

The art of “middle ground” politics—strategic, institutional, philosophical—offers an alternative language for understanding the politics of Iran.

Strategically, middle ground politics is “friction-based, dynamic equilibri­um” (p. 58) management. Opposed to absolute ideas or clear-cut power relations, it rejects victory/defeat claims in favor of engaging and managing all goals, factions, and players. It is pragmatic but involves brinkmanship and active cultivation of “friction” to keep multiple goals and options in play. “The focus [of Iran’s nuclear policy] does not seem to be on acquisition or detona­tion. Rather, Iranian policy seems to leverage the friction caused by nuclear negotiations into diverse global influence” (p. 7). This can be useful for minorities, as in Hezbollah’s growth to a majority in the Lebanese parliament while continuing to jockey between loyalties to Lebanon and Syria, attacks on and understandings with Israel, and always seeking positions from which it can undermine the party it is also supporting. Shiism has always seen itself as a minority. The true Muslims (egoless lovers of God) are always a minority and feel oppressed by the corruptions of the world.

Institutionally (and historically), middle ground politics has a habitus in the split betwe

To continue reading, see options above.

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

Primaries and Conventions for 2020

On To the Convention, Again
Caroline Monahan and Robert Y. Shapiro

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

THE PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Extending the U.S. Umbrella and Increasing Chances of War   THE PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS: EXTENDING THE U.S. UMBRELLA AND INCREASING CHANCES OF WAR

CONFERENCES & EVENTS

The Greater Good Gathering: Technology, Community, and the Greater Good
February 6–7, 2019
New York, NY

The Greater Good Gathering conference explored the future of public policy and how best to advance the greater good in the 21st century in light of technological innovation, economic disruption, ideological polarization, and governance challenges.

MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT VIEW ALL EVENTS

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS