War and Peace in Qajar Persia: Implications Past and Present
Routledge, Mar 31, 2015 - Iran - 256 pages
Persia Felix could never have been a phrase coined to describe modern Iran. Her lot since the period of the Qajars has been to stand in the crossfire of great power politics. In this collection, a new debate takes place on the approach of the Qajar system (1796-1925) within the context of the wars that engulfed it and the quality of the peace that ensued. Consistent with the pattern of history, much of the material available until now on the Qajar era, particularly as regards its responses to crisis, its military preparedness and the social organization of its borderlands, was written by the victors of the wars. This volume, in contrast, throws new light on the decision-making processes, the restraints on action and the political, economic and social exigencies at play through analysis that looks at the Persian question from the inside looking out. The results are often surprising, as what they reveal is a Persia more astute politically than previous analysis has allowed, strategically more adept at spurning the multiple interventions in the face of the severe economic pressures being brought to bear by the Great Powers. Although history reconceived does not paint a purely rosy picture of the Qajars, it does offer a reassessment based on Persia's geopolitical position, the frequently unpalatable options it had to choose from, and the strategic need to protect its resources. Today events in Iran and Western Asia appear to echo many of th power plays of the nineteenth-century's Great Game. States of the region are again seeking advantage of their neighbours; the issue of oil nationalism is at the top of the agenda as it was in the early twentieth century, and great power dominance, indeed intervention, has become a central theme. The essays in this volume make it clear that an understanding of how policies were formulated during the Qajar era can provide historical dimension to current analysis of the region, as similar circumstances today may be engendering like responses. This volume makes an important contribution to the effort of rewriting the historical record. It is a revisionism that is overdue not only in respect to an era that in itself has been understudied and misunderstood, but that carries significant linkages to present-day conditions. -- Back cover.
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