Monday, July 06, 2009
BOOKS: Robert Baer on the Iranian superpower ...
I’ve just finished reading a ripper-of-a-book by former CIA operative Robert Baer about Iran. The book is entitled The Devil We Know: Dealing With The New Iranian Superpower and was published in 2009.
I kept detailed notes of the book for the prologue which I’d like to share if for no other reason than that I’d like to throw them out and return the book to my shelf. So here goes:
 Iran’s war with the United States was undeclared on Iran’s part and largely ignored on the US’s part. The US at one stage was too busy fighting the Cold War.
 Iran and its proxy Hezbollah found ways of fighting an unconventional war against the US with precision-guided rockets, roadside bombs and human suicide bombs.
 The Gulf has 55% of the world’s oil reserves which Iran is now close to controlling.
 The cult of martyrdom plays a central role in Iran’s political ideology. Iranians say that no army can come in the way of martyrdom.
 Iran believes it has enough military power to challenge US interests in the Gulf. Iran is the new superpower, with unconventional warfare methods that could easily bring a conventional army to a standstill.
 Iran has all but abandoned Khomeini’s revolution. It is a rational actor which coldly and methodically pursues its national interest. Scratch at the veneer of Islam and what you get is old-fashioned nationalism.
 Iran’s proxy Hezbollah was the irst military force to defeat Israel on the battlefield since it was founded. Hezbollah defeated Israel again in the 34 day war of 2006. Israel withdrew with heavy losses achieving not a single military objective, and indeed strengthening Hezbollah’s presence in Lebanon.
 US interests in the Middle East were founded on the old Sunni order which has all but collapsed.
 This book is about defining Iran’s imperial drive.
This book is a riveting read, though at times it is prone to generalisations and a fair bit of the explanation of Sunni and Shia theology is just plain wrong. However, the basic proposition is well-argued and compelling.
You can read an excellent profile of the author by Rod McGuiness here.
Words © 2009 Irfan Yusuf
Bookmark this on Delicious