The George H.W. Bush Administration
- The Bush administration’s policy on Iran was shaped largely by three factors: Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, American hostages held by Iranian allies in Lebanon and a new round of Arab-Israeli peace talks.
- The U.S. strategic priority after Iraq’s invasion was liberating Kuwait and making sure that Saddam Hussein could not dominate the oil-rich region. Iran was an indirect beneficiary of the war, which was a by-product of U.S. policy, but not an objective. The administration was mindful of the threat posed by Iran and worked to ensure any gains from Iraq’s defeat would be distinctly limited.
- The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference – the first face-to-face meeting between Israeli and Arab authorities – was a signal accomplishment for U.S. foreign policy. But Iran viewed it as a major threat to its regional standing and interests.
- Iran’s failure or inability to bring about the release of the American hostages held in Lebanon until mid-1991 (and its continuing support for acts of terrorism) squandered much of the “good will” offered in President Bush’s inaugural address.
- The U. S.–Iran relationship was largely stagnant during the Bush administration, with little contact and less progress.
- Iran and its support for terrorist groups posed a significant threat to efforts designed to promote peace and secure Israel’s place in the region.
- U.S. opposition to Iraq after Operation Desert Storm—a hostility that lingered for more than a decade until the 2003 war and Saddam Hussein’s removal—did not translate into better U.S. ties with Iran. In the Middle East, the enemy of your enemy can still be your enemy.
- Many of the same issues that had dogged U.S.-Iranian relations before President Bush took office in 1989—including differences about Israel, the use of terrorism as a tool of policy, and Iraq—were still problems when President Bush was succeeded by President Clinton.
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The Islamists Are Coming
The Islamists Are Coming, edited by Robin Wright, surveys the rise of Islamist groups in the wake of the Arab Spring. Often lumped together, the more than 50 Islamist parties with millions of followers now constitute a whole new spectrum—separate from either militants or secular parties. They will shape the new order in the world’s most volatile region more than any other political bloc. Yet they have diverse goals and different constituencies. Sometimes they are even rivals.
"The Iran Primer"--Book Overview
“The Iran Primer” brings together 50 top experts—Western and Iranian—in comprehensive but concise overviews of Iran’s politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and nuclear program. Each link connects to a complete chapter on one of 62 subjects in 10 categories. Printable PDF attachments also are at the bottom. Timely analysis is added weekly. The book also chronicles U.S.-Iran relations under six U.S. presidents. It probes five policy options. And it offers timelines, bios of top leaders, and data on nuclear sites and specific sanctions resolutions. And it provides context and analysis for what lies ahead. Click here to order the book.