In the Shadow of Mistrust

The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations

Part of the Iran from the Pahlavis to the Present series
May 2022 9781787387119 336pp
Available as an eBook Available from Oxford Scholarship Online
EU Customers


Since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the normalisation of relations between Iran and America has appeared unrealistic if not inconceivable, given that the Iranian state has vigorously pursued an anti-American ideology. This account of US-Iranian relations examines the efficacy of external pressure such as sanctions, as well as domestic grassroots reform movements within the Islamic Republic.

The Obama presidency marked a rare high point in the Washington-Tehran relationship, as negotiations between the two countries and other powers produced an unprecedented nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, the Trump administration’s unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, and re-imposition of new sanctions in pursuit of ‘maximum pressure’, had devastating economic consequences, undermining the Iranian middle class, which has consistently been the voice of political moderation and supported Iran’s integration into the global economy. Crucially, sanctions have also driven Iran further into the arms of China, while rendering it an even more recalcitrant and aggressive adversary.

Monshipouri’s central conviction is that negotiations are pivotal to dismantling the mistrust that has long characterised US-Iranian relations, and to seeking détente between Iran and its Arab neighbours–a critical priority, since gradual US withdrawal from the region is all but certain.


‘Surveying the tumultuous relationship between Iran and the United States, In the Shadow of Mistrust offers a clear roadmap on how to resolve the existing tensions between the two countries. Timely, well researched and meticulous.’ — Nader Entessar, Professor in the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, University of South Alabama, and co-author of Iran Nuclear Negotiations: Accord and Détente since the Geneva Agreement of 2013

‘Monshipouri takes the reader on a detailed, exceptionally well-argued and comprehensive tour of Iran’s relations with the USA. An important contribution to the scholarship for those who want to take a deep-dive into this pressing geo-political conundrum.’ — Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, author of What is Iran?

‘Monshipouri’s excellent new book takes the bold position that the US and Iran could and should end hostilities for their mutual benefit, as well as that of the greater world. Deeply researched and empirically rich, it tackles contentious issues and offers a way forward.’ — Arzoo Osanloo, Professor, Law, Societies & Justice, and Director, Middle East Center, University of Washington

‘Media coverage of US–Iran relations has been shrouded in bias, misinformation and misunderstanding. This volume is a much-needed corrective, providing a nuanced perspective on the complexities of this relationship. Monshipouri explores the factors animating mutual antagonism, while examining political blunders and missed opportunities for rapprochement. Essential reading.’ — Manochehr Dorraj, Professor of International Relations, Texas Christian University, and author of From Zarathustra to Khomeini: Populism and Dissent in Iran



Mahmood Monshipouri is Professor and Chair of International Relations at San Francisco State University; he also teaches at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include the edited volume Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran, also published by Hurst.

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