A few weeks ago during another one of my frequent library visits I happened to spot yet another anthology from Greenhaven Press. I admit, at first I wasn’t excited to read yet another book about Iran, but after remembering I’d always had good luck with Greenhaven’s books I decided to take a chance and grab it. After finishing it last night at the pub while waiting for my friends to join me I concluded that for the most part, I’m glad I read it. While it wasn’t as enjoyable to read as Iran: Opposing Viewpoints, I thought these particular essays were slightly more sophisticated and in-depth. Of course, when one is dealing with a nation as complex and dynamic as Iran, a finding a collection of sophisticated and in-depth essays like this is never a bad thing.
Published by Greenhaven Press in 2011, Iran: Current Controversies is divided into four chapters with each chapter assigned to a controversial question. Specifically:
- Is Iran’s Nuclear Program Peaceful ?
- Does Iran Want to Dominate Iraq ?
- Will the Iranian Green Revolution Succeed ?
- What Approach Should the United States Take Towards Iran ?
Just like all the other books in Greenhaven’s Current Controversies and Opposing Viewpoints series the opinion pieces chosen for Iran: Current Controversies come from a variety of sources. While some come from traditional sources such as The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor and the conservative newspaper The Washington Times, many have been gleaned from web pages, position papers and policy/think tanks. A few of the opinion pieces have been taken from foreign publications including Canada’s Macleans, Gaza’s The Palestine Telegraph and Germany’s Der Spiegel. Several strikingly partisan selections can be found as well, with contributions from far-right American presidential candidate Pat Buchanan, socialist Keith Jones, and Islamically-oriented activist/scholars Habib Siddiqui and Kayhan Barzegar. Lastly, I was happy to see included in the collection essays from Hooman Majd and George Friedman.
Like I mentioned earlier, the best essays happened to be the ones which I thought discussed the various questions in-depth while judiciously weighing the evidence for and against a particular position. Well reasoned while taking into account multiple considerations, the best pieces shied away from black/white polemics and instead attempted to wrestle with the varying shades of gray. George Friedman’s “The United States Must Redefine the Iran Problem”, Hooman Majd’s “The Green Movement is a Viable Civil Right’s Movement”, Max Singer’s “Iraq is Unlikely to Be Controlled by Iran” and Joseph Felter and Brian Fishman’s “Iran Has a Robust Plan to Exert Influence in Iraq” were great examples of intelligent, analytical and reasonable discussion. The inclusion of such pieces brought a welcomed depth and sagacity to the collection.
While not as enjoyable as Iran: Opposing Viewpoints, this anthology I found a bit more sophisticated and nuanced. And when one is dealing with a nation as contradictory, confusing and enigmatic as Iran can be to most Westerners, an essay collection like this is seldom a useless commodity.