The dramatic secret history of our undeclared thirty-year conflict with Iran, revealing newsbreaking episodes of covert and deadly operations that brought the two nations to the brink of open war
For three decades, the United States and Iran have engaged in a secret war. It is a conflict that has never been acknowledged and a story that has never been told.
This surreptitious war began with the Iranian revolution and simmers today inside Iraq and in the Persian Gulf. Fights rage in the shadows, between the CIA and its network of spies and Iran’s intelligence agency. Battles are fought at sea with Iranians in small speedboats attacking Western oil tankers. This conflict has frustrated five American presidents, divided administrations, and repeatedly threatened to bring the two nations into open warfare. It is a story of shocking miscalculations, bitter debates, hidden casualties, boldness, and betrayal.
A senior historian for the federal government with unparalleled access to senior officials and key documents of several U.S. administrations, Crist has spent more than ten years researching and writing The Twilight War, and he breaks new ground on virtually every page. Crist describes the series of secret negotiations between Iran and the United States after 9/11, culminating in Iran’s proposal for a grand bargain for peace-which the Bush administration turned down. He documents the clandestine counterattack Iran launched after America’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, in which thousands of soldiers disguised as reporters, tourists, pilgrims, and aid workers toiled to change the government in Baghdad and undercut American attempts to pacify the Iraqi insurgency. And he reveals in vivid detail for the first time a number of important stories of military and intelligence operations by both sides, both successes and failures, and their typically unexpected consequences.
Much has changed in the world since 1979, but Iran and America remain each other’s biggest national security nightmares. “The Iran problem” is a razor-sharp briar patch that has claimed its sixth presidential victim in Barack Obama and his administration. The Twilight War adds vital new depth to our understanding of this acute dilemma it is also a thrillingly engrossing read, animated by a healthy irony about human failings in the fog of not-quite war.
About David Crist
Dr. David Crist is a senior historian for the federal government and frequent adviser to senior government officials on the Middle East. As an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, Crist served two tours with elite special operations forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and was part of the first U.S. military forces inside Afghanistan who overthrew the Taliban. He received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a master’s and doctorate in Middle Eastern history from Florida State University.
Since the fall of the shah in 1979, Iran and the United States have been thorns in each other’s sides. Iran seeks recognition as a regional power and as a champion of Shia Muslims throughout the Middle East, but its policy toward America has often been driven by a “paranoia that the real goal behind U.S. actions was the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.” America, for its part, has consistently “helped perpetuate the animosity [by displaying] a callous disregard for Iranian grievances and security concerns.” The result has been an ongoing “shadow war” in which each side has inflicted grievous casualties on the other without quite falling into open belligerence, while missing numerous opportunities for rapprochement. In a monumental debut, senior government historian Crist presents a comprehensive narrativeof this conflict from the ascendancy of the Ayatollah Khomeini to the present day. Drawing on extensive access to American government leaders and documents, Crist surveys his topic in thorough, if sometimes ponderous, detail, including coverage of the bombing of the Marine base in Beirut, the Iran/Iraq war, the arms-for-hostages scandal, the naval battles of the “tanker wars,” Iran’s involvement in post-Hussein Iraq and its present pursuit of nuclear ambitions. Completely in command of the competing interests and personalities at the highest levels of American policymaking, Crist has an equally impressive grasp of the ebb and flow of diverse viewpoints in Iranian religious, political and military councils. The battle scenes are edge-of-the-seat gripping, and the author is keenly insightful on the Byzantine diplomatic maneuvers, by turns farcical and dismaying, and the motivations of the politicians, clerics, Cold Warriors and con artists who have stoked the ongoing tensions between the two nations in spite of important common interests. – Kirkus Reviews
Inside America’s 30-Year Conflict With Iran
NPR Book Review – July 18, 2012 (Excerpt)
Iran Says It Has Plan To Close Strait Of Hormuz. Iran Reports Long-Range Missile Launch Exercise. New Sanctions Targeting Iranian Oil. All these headlines appeared on NPR.org over the past month, but if they give you a sense of deja vu, there’s a reason. According to David Crist, the United States and Iran “have been engaged in a largely unknown quasi-war” for over three decades — and despite occasional glimmers of optimism, the two nations have been consistently unable to break out of the old, internecine patterns that have dominated their relationship since the Carter administration.
It wasn’t always this way, of course. Although it may seem like ancient history now, Iran was once one of America’s biggest allies in the Middle East. That ended with the 1979 Iranian Revolution, when the U.S.-friendly Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was deposed and replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, an Islamist dictator who loathed the West. What followed was a series of low points — deadly acts of malice and incompetence on both sides, and a seemingly endless parade of squandered opportunities for rapprochement and peace.
In The Twilight War, his first book, David Crist offers a fascinating, detailed history of American-Iranian foreign relations in the years since the revolution. Crist is perhaps uniquely qualified for the subject matter — not only is he the senior historian for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a veteran of both Gulf Wars and the war in Afghanistan, but he is the son of former CENTCOM commander George Crist, a Marine Corps general who dealt extensively with Iran in the 1980s. [Read the full article...]
Three Decades of Mistakes and Mistrust
The New York Times Book Review – July 30, 2012 (Excerpt)
For the United States and Iran the 1979 Iranian revolution — which replaced an American-allied monarchy with a virulently anti-American theocracy — has proved to be the geopolitical divorce from hell. For over three decades, as the two sides have engaged in an ugly battle for patronage over a volatile Middle East, Washington has hoped in vain that Tehran would change its ways. “The Twilight War,” David Crist’s painstakingly researched and elegantly written account of the United States-Iran cold war, is an earnest chronicle of this shadowy history.
Mr. Crist’s position as a government historian and adviser to the United States Central Command, which oversees all American combat forces in the Middle East and which his father used to lead, has afforded him unique access to government officials and classified intelligence. Nonetheless he proves himself a dispassionate narrator. While no apologist for the Iranian regime, Mr. Crist pulls no punches in pointing out America’s strategic and sometimes moral failings in dealing with Iran.
Other books, notably Kenneth Pollack’s “Persian Puzzle” and David Sanger’s “Confront and Conceal,” have ably covered American foreign policy toward Iran. Mr. Crist’s stands out for its focus on the troubled relationship’s military context. For much of the 20th century, including the first decade after the 1979 revolution, Washington’s chief concern was that Iran could fall sway — or prey — to the Soviet Union. Mr. Crist reveals military contingency plans to occupy and even use nuclear weapons on Iranian soil in the event of a Soviet incursion. As one C.I.A. official observed, “We now had a plan to defend those who don’t want to be defended against those who are not going to attack.” [Read the full article...]
The Once and Future War - ‘The Twilight War,’ by David Crist
The New York Times Book Review – August 17, 2012 (Excerpt)
Revolutionary regimes, in the grip of a universalist faith, are often prepared to use violence to export their ideology. France did so after 1789, Russia after 1917 and Cuba after 1959. Only one revolutionary state currently poses a serious threat to world order: Iran. Like 18th-century France and 20th-century Russia, Iran has fused the expansionary impulse of an imperial power with an ideological attack on the status quo. But that only makes Iran harder to deal with, above all for the United States, the chief pillar of that status quo.
“The Twilight War” explains the baffled and sometimes hapless and often contradictory response of American policy makers to the Iranian revolution over the last 33 years. We all know the basic outlines of the story: the hostage crisis under Jimmy Carter, the bungled arms-for-hostages deal under Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush’s “axis of evil,” Barack Obama’s “engagement” policy followed by a tightening vise of sanctions. David Crist, a historian for the federal government and a Marine veteran, has tied all these clanking tin cans together. As adversaries go, Iran has proved to be much more bewildering, if until now far less dangerous, than the Soviet Union, its predecessor as America’s Public Enemy No. 1. [Read the full article...]
The Twilight War The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran By David Crist
The Washington Post Book Review – August 17, 2012 (Excerpt)
Even a cursory examination of newspapers and television programs will show that U.S.-Iran relations have once more collapsed into mutual accusations and threats of conflict. Iran’s growing nuclear appetite, its attachment to terror as an instrument of statecraft and America’s persistent sanctions policy suggest a conflict that does not yield easily to diplomatic mediation. This most complicated of relationships is the subject of David Crist’s lucid and thoughtful new book, “The Twilight War.”
Crist is entering well-traveled terrain, as U.S. policy toward Iran has been the subject of many scholarly and popular accounts. However, his attention to detail, engaging prose and extensive research should set his book above many of its counterparts.
Amid the acrimony and tension, it is easy to miss the fact that every U.S. president since the inception of the Islamic republic in 1979 has reached out to the Iranian clergymen who hold power there in the hope of rekindling a lost alliance. As a close friend of the United States, the shah patrolled the Persian Gulf on behalf of his superpower patron and considered intimate relations with the United States a central pillar of his foreign policy. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
FrogenYozurt.com may generate ad income and accept advertising/ads and links. Paid entries are marked as “Paid Articles.” Entries describing a product (book reviews, etc.) may contain descriptions provided by the manufacturer or other sources (Amazon.Com, etc.).
All entries marked as "Satire" may refer to actual persons or events, however, the content is of a satirical nature based on the writers' personal views and should not be taken seriously. All other entries reflect personal opinions on various topics.
All content on this website has been posted under the impression that they do not infringe any copyrights. However, if this site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner, we believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Should you suspect a copyright infringement or any other legal issues with posts on this website, please contact the editor through the contact form as indicated on the top navigation bar, and we will remove the post immediately. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.