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  • Speakers' Series: Roxane Farmanfarmaian '77

Speakers' Series: Roxane Farmanfarmaian '77

  • 23 Mar 2006
  • 6:30 PM
  • The Frontline Club, 13 Norfolk Place, W2 1QJ. Nearest tube: Paddington

Iran, the Bomb, and the East/West Standoff


A discussion of Anglo-American options in the face of the atomic threat and Iran’s politics of Islam



The special relationship between the Shah and the West devolved rapidly into a relationship of mutual hatred and fear with the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A primary driver of what Samuel Huntington has called ‘the clash of civilizations’, Iran’s radical regional politics have brought the two sides into their most dangerous phase yet with its current programme of nuclear development. How the United States and Britain project their own vision of democracy and international power into the heated arena of the Gulf will play a large role in determining the nature of the confrontation, the impact on energy supplies, and the export of terrorism into the West. Important within this discussion will be an examination of Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his effective and unexpected leadership in expressing the sentiments of the ‘Arab street’.

 

Roxane Farmanfarmaian of the Centre of International Studies at Cambridge University and author of Blood and Oil has been asked to discuss these issues for the HYP Speaker Series in March.  Half American half Iranian, she published a newsmagazine in Tehran during the Revolution, and approaches these issues as both a journalist and academic. She has served as a briefer to the British military, providing insight on Iran and the Gulf to officers posted to Iraq.  Her  opinions and perspectives are vibrant and incisive and can be quite divisive, in that her viewpoints include an understanding of the mentality at work in Iran, from the cultural, social and political angles (e.g. she argues that the image Iran has gained as an irascible, extremist, undemocratic and ‘terrorist’ state is neither true nor useful, and by so viewing it, the West closes the many possible openings for negotiation with its complex and highly educated regime on the premise that it is unacceptable to negotiate with ‘terrorists’.) 

 

This is a MUST DO for anyone concerned about the direction in which American and British relations with Iran are proceeding, and the dangers inherent to our own security which that entails.   Trying to sort out the substance and the politics in many of these issues is difficult.   Roxane Farmanfarmaian gives a brilliant, well-grounded insight into the background, the risks, the costs, and the ramifications of the current standoff, and suggests alternatives that are not widely discussed.


Roxane Farmanfarmaian’s book, co-written with her father, entitled Blood and Oil: A Prince’s Memoir of Iran, from the Shah to the Ayatollah has just appeared in its fourth edition from Random House with a new introduction. Arthur Schlesinger described it as ‘Remarkable… presented against the backdrop of Iranian history, it touches on the errors of the Shah, the perfidies of Albion, the clumsiness of the US, and the drama of oilundefineddown through the role of Khomeini.’ It is available from bookstores and amazon.com.

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