Korinman, a professor of geopolitics at the Sorbonne, and Laughland, a British journalist, have assembled an eclectic collection of thirty-four short essays, some only a page or two long, divided into four sections. These cover Iran's external relations, the international response to its nuclear policies, the politics surrounding president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Shi‘i revival. (A fifth, labeled "Psychoanalysis and Geopolitics," contains a 3-page essay arguing that the Iranian motivation to Holocaust denial is to trade its cessation for an end to Western criticism of Islam.)
The quality of these essays predictably varies. Korinman's introduction rambles as he attempts to analyze the intricacies of the U.S. policy debate and fails to gauge the reliability of his sources (he considers New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh "well informed," however much the facts contradict Hersh's assertions). Korinman's own assertions include such canards as Vice President Dick Cheney supporting a tactical nuclear preemptive strike against Iran or that neoconservatives trusted U.N. sanctions on Iran.
Laughland's contribution amounts to a polemical rant against neoconservatives. He condemns those who criticize Iran's nuclear nonproliferation treaty violations because, he argues, the treaty unfairly allows only some states to have nuclear warheads. He attributes Ahmadinejad's hostility toward Israel to the "frustration of a man who is less powerful at home than he would like to be."
Just as unconvincing is a short essay by Mansour Farhang, a professor of politics at Bennington College and revolutionary Iran's first ambassador to the United Nations, who castigates the Bush administration for its failure to engage the Iranian president. University of Durham professors Anoush Ehteshami and Mahjoob Zweiri analyze the rise of "neoconservatives" in Iran, a disingenuous attempt to force Western terminology upon Iranian politics. This analysis errs on two levels: Not only do those in Iran whom they call neoconservatives have little interest in democracy promotion, but also, within the Iranian context, Ahmadinejad and his fellow travelers, whom the authors suggest represent a new trend of Iranian conservatism, in fact represent perhaps the oldest trend, whose roots are in the revolutionary fervor of the Iran-Iraq war years (1980-88).
Still, some essays have value, for example, a study of militarism in Iranian textbooks by Arnon Gross, director of research for the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace, and an analysis of anti-Semitism in Iran by Hebrew University scholar Eldad J. Pardo. The value of their essays highlights the lack of quality throughout most of this forgettable volume.