Over the past thirty years, while the United States has turned either a blind or dismissive eye, Iran has emerged as a nation every bit as capable of altering Americas destiny as traditional superpowers Russia and China. Indeed, one of this books central arguments is that, in some ways, Irans grip on Americas future is even tighter. As exCIA operative Robert Baer masterfully shows, Iran has maneuvered itself into the elite superpower ranks by exploiting Americans false perceptions of what Iran isby letting us believe it is a country run by scowling religious fanatics, too preoccupied with theocratic jostling and terrorist agendas to strengthen its political and economic foundations.
The reality is much more frighteningand yet contained in the potential catastrophe is an implicit political response that, if were bold enough to adopt it, could avert disaster. Baers on-the-ground sleuthing and interviews with key Middle East playerseveryone from an Iranian ayatollah to the king of Bahrain to the head of Israels internal securitypaint a picture of the centuries-old Shia nation that is starkly the opposite of the one normally drawn. For example, Irans hate-spouting President Ahmadinejad is by no means the true spokesman for Iranian foreign policy, nor is Iran making it the highest priority to become a nuclear player.
Even so, Baer has discovered that Iran is currently engaged in a soft takeover of the Middle East, that the proxy method of war-making and co-option it perfected with Hezbollah in Lebanon is being exported throughout the region, that Iran now controls a significant portion of Iraq, that it is extending its influence over Jordan and Egypt, that the Arab Emirates and other Gulf States are being pulled into its sphere, and that it will shortly have a firm hold on the worlds oil spigot. By mixing anecdotes with information gleaned from clandestine sources, Baer superbly demonstrates that Iran, far from being a wild-eyed rogue state, is a rational actorone skilled in the game of nations and so effective at thwarting perceived Western colonialism that even rival Sunnis relish fighting under its banner. For U.
S. policy makers, the choices have narrowed either cede the worlds most important energy corridors to a nation that can match us militarily with its asymmetric capabilities (which include the use of suicide bombers)or deal with the devil we know. We might just find that in allying with Iran, well have increased not just our own security but that of all Middle East nations. The alternativeto continue goading Iran into establishing hegemony over the Muslim worldis too chilling to contemplate.
From the Hardcover edition.