Defending Iran: From Revolutionary Guards to Ballistic Missiles, Gawdat Bahgat and Anoushiravan Ehteshami
Much has been written on Iran’s domestic politics and foreign policies to help guide policymakers. Nevertheless, the country often remains poorly understood. This book by Gawdat Bahgat and Anoushiravan Ehteshami, both respected experts, offers a timely and relevant synthesis of what is known and not known about Iran’s defense policy; it should become essential reading for scholars, students, and practitioners.
The book covers extensive grounds. It dives into the domestic sources of Iran’s conduct, especially ideology and threat perceptions. It explains the structure of Iran’s security forces and, usefully, of its military-industrial complex—the target of much investment before and after the 1979 revolution. It also offers detailed chapters on the tools in Iran’s portfolio to deter its adversaries and project its power, especially its missile and space programs, its cyber capabilities, and its naval and drone forces.
Several themes emerge. Often neglected in public debates, one of these is the issue of continuity in Iranian foreign policy. Much changed after 1979; Iran suddenly went from close partner to adversary to the United States. But as Bahgat and Ehteshami clearly explain, it is possible to identify important elements of continuity because of the permanent impact of structural pressures; the authors show that
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