Book Review: Ali M. Ansari, The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran

Date01 December 2014
Published date01 December 2014
Subject MatterBook Reviews
190 Book Reviews
Jadavpur Journal of International Relations, 18, 2 (2014): 181–194
China, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and the international financial insti-
tutions together have bailed out the nation from crises. From a compara-
tive perspective the author has shown that much democratic change took
place in China, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Taiwan, and Indonesia,
and more recently in Turkey, because in these countries the army as the
chief societal protagonist was discredited, but in Pakistan, to place the
military under the control of elected civilian leaders is never possible. In
Pakistan, elected civilian rulers risk assassination or exile when they
dare to challenge or discredit the military establishment.
With the advancement of the twenty-first century, Pakistan is left with
crucial choices to make. The author has rightly remarked that if the
Pakistani army and the intelligence persist in pursuing ‘double games’
and go on supporting terrorism, it might fall apart in the long run causing
enormous damage to itself and to the world. In a highly globalized world,
a warrior state is a thing of the past. The author opines that what is imper-
ative for Pakistan today is to transform itself to tolerant, liberal and
democratic state by eschewing hyper realpolitik.
Debjani Ghosal
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Bethune College, Kolkata
Ali M. Ansari, The Politics of Nationalism in Modern Iran. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 327, £18.99.
DOI: 10.1177/0973598414563208
Iran has a rich historical and cultural pedigree since the days of the
Persian Empire. The idea of Iranianism was nurtured by the Pahlavi
dynasty and of Iranian ‘self’ was embedded in the discourse of becoming
a superior nation. Iranian nationalism has played a significant role in the
idea of Iran throughout the twentieth century. The beginning of modern
Iranian nationalism goes back to the 1905 Constitutional Revolution.
This nationalism was also the determining factor of subsequent oil
nationalization of 1951, the Islamic Revolution of 1978–79 and the

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