Takeyh, Ray 1966-

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Takeyh, Ray 1966-


Born 1966.


Office—Council on Foreign Relations, 1779 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, DC 20036. E-mail—[email protected].


National Defense University, former professor and director of studies for Near East and South Asia Center for Strategic Studies; National War College, former professor of national security studies. University of California at Berkeley, fellow at Center for Middle East Studies, 1997-99; Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, senior fellow for Middle East Studies; Yale University, New Haven, CT, fellow in international security studies; Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington, DC, fellow.


Arnold Bryce and Read Award in Modern History, Oxford University; Sir Raymond Carr Award; John M. Olin fellowship.


The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The U.S., Britain, and Nasser's Egypt, 1953-57, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Nikolas K. Gvosdev) The Receding Shadow of the Prophet: The Rise and Fall of Radical Political Islam, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2004.

Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Times Books (New York, NY0, 2006.

Contributor to periodicals, including Foreign Affairs, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, National Interest, Washington Quarterly, Foreign Policy, World Policy Journal, Orbis, and Survival. Contributing editor, National Interest.


A recognized expert on national security and the Middle East, Ray Takeyh has become a mitigating voice in the debate about war and terrorism in that region of the world. While U.S. President George W. Bush has pursued military solutions to problems with such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan, Takeyh has viewed this approach as misguided and heavy-handed. Such policies, he believes, have caused the United States and its allies to miss opportunities for peace. Western mistakes in the Middle East have been the result of fundamental misunderstandings about history, culture, and politics, Takeyh believes.

Takeyh's first book, The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The U.S., Britain, and Nasser's Egypt, 1953-57, was written while he was a fellow at the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. Takeyh discusses the reactions of France, England, the United States, and Israel toward the growing power and influence of Egypt's Gamal Abdul Nasser after Britain's withdrawal from that country. The Suez Canal crisis of 1956 forced U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower to take action as England and France threatened war. As Lawrence Davidson reported in a Middle East Policy review of what he called a "short but illuminating study," the Europeans took unwise actions as a result of their inability to recognize their own waning influence as world powers, while the U.S., too, erred in its many covert attempts to subvert Nasser's power. Davidson continued: "As Takeyh shows, these allies often went their own bloody ways, complicating an American policy that preferred covert pressure and subversion to overt warfare. The only policy judgment the Americans got right was their conclusion that blatant aggression, as in the case of the 1956 Suez invasion, would only strengthen Nasser's pan-Arabist policies throughout the Middle East, while discrediting any leader or government allied with the West." "Takeyh makes the case convincingly that there is much more to understand about this failed relationship," concluded Jon B. Alterman in the Middle East Journal. "While this book does not represent the final word on the subject, it nonetheless advances our understanding in some important areas."

In his cowritten The Receding Shadow of the Prophet: The Rise and Fall of Radical Political Islam, and the 2006 title Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, Takeyh strives to dispel many illusions Americans have about the Middle East and terrorism. In the former book, Takeyh and coauthor Nikolas K. Gvosdev argue that the political successes of radical Islamists have not been impressive. One example is Algeria, a country where Islamists tried to take power only to find themselves thwarted by the secular regime. Takeyh notes that most average Muslims in the Middle East are opposed to ultraconservative religious leadership of their nations, but their even greater opposition to interference in their affairs by the West has made it seem as if they favor radical regimes. Takeyh and Gvosdev do not pretend that radical Islam is not a problem, but they provide "a calmer, closer examination" of the situation, according to Jay Freeman in Booklist, who called The Receding Shadow of the Prophet "an important, provocative work." If the authors "are right, by pushing the rule of law and legitimate elections, the most extreme voices are likely to lose out," summarized Daniel Byman in his National Interest review.

In Hidden Iran, Takeyh sharply criticizes the Bush administration for making an enemy of a country that might have aided U.S. policy had the U.S. president not grouped it into an "axis of evil" that includes Iraq and North Korea. The author "concludes that the ‘chimera of regime change’ must finally be rejected," according to one Publishers Weekly writer; instead, Takeyh favors renewed efforts at diplomatic dialogue and a greater understanding of the Iranian people. An Economist critic felt that the "account is solid enough, but it rarely offers new insights, and his style, which occasionally strays into grandiloquence … is not very engaging." On the other hand, Foreign Affairs contributor Gary Sick remarked that "Takeyh examines these subjects without any of the hysteria that characterizes so much of what passes for political debate about Iran (and without the jargon that often clutters the writing of Washington insiders). His tone is explanatory rather than censorious. If he has any agenda at all, it appears to be the promotion of rational pragmatism—a stance unlikely to ingratiate him to ideologues on either the left or the right." Sick asserted that "Hidden Iran is a skillful policy brief, written in a smooth, graceful style that is accessible to nonspecialists."



Booklist, September 15, 2004, Jay Freeman, review of The Receding Shadow of the Prophet: The Rise and Fall of Radical Political Islam, p. 184; October 15, 2006, Jay Freeman, review of Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic, p. 12.

Bookwatch, March, 2005, review of The Receding Shadow of the Prophet.

Economist, September 2, 2006, "What to Do; Dealing with Iran," review of Hidden Iran, p. 76.

Foreign Affairs, November-December, 2006, Gary Sick, "A Selective Partnership: Getting U.S.-Iranian Relations Right," review of Hidden Iran, p. 142.

Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2006, review of Hidden Iran, p. 831.

Middle East, April, 2001, Fred Rhodes, review of The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine: The U.S., Britain and Nasser's Egypt, 1953-57, p. 40.

Middle East Journal, autumn, 2001, Jon B. Alterman, review of The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine, p. 703.

Middle East Policy, June, 2001, Lawrence Davidson, review of The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine, p. 137.

National Interest, spring, 2005, Daniel Byman, "How to Fight Terror," review of The Receding Shadow of the Prophet, p. 124; January-February, 2007, Daniel Benjamin, "Botching Iran," review of Hidden Iran, p. 75.

Publishers Weekly, August 14, 2006, review of Hidden Iran, p. 197.


Council on Foreign Relations Web site,http://www.cfr.org/ (March 28, 2007), brief profile of Ray Takeyh.

NYBooks,http://www.nybooks.com/ (March 28, 2007), Christopher de Bellaigue, "Defiant Iran," review of Hidden Iran.

PoliticalReviewNet,http://www.politicalreviewnet.com/ (May 11, 2001), Lawrence Davidson, review of The Origins of the Eisenhower Doctrine.