Abbas Milani
Expertise: 

Abbas Milani

Research Fellow
Biography: 

Abbas Milani is a research fellow and codirector of the Iran Democracy Project at the Hoover Institution. In addition, Milani is the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of Iranian Studies at Stanford University. His expertise is US/Iran relations and Iranian cultural, political, and security issues.

Before coming to Hoover, Milani was a professor of history and political science and chair of the department at Notre Dame de Namur University and a research fellow at the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, in addition to being an assistant professor in the faculty of law and political science at Tehran University and a member of the board of directors of Tehran University's Center for International Studies from 1979 to 1987. Milani was also a research fellow at the Iranian Center for Social Research from 1977 to 1978 and an assistant professor at the National University of Iran from 1975 to 1977.

His most recent publication is The Shah (2012). He is the author of The Myth of the Great Satan: A New Look at America's Relations with Iran (Hoover Institution Press, 2010); Eminent Persians: Men and Women Who Made Modern Iran, 1941–1979, 2 vols.( Syracuse University Press, November 2008); King of Shadows: Essays on Iran’s Encounter with Modernity, Persian text published in the United States (Ketab Corp., spring 2005); Lost Wisdom: Rethinking Persian Modernity in Iran (Mage, 2004); The Persian Sphinx: Amir Abbas Hoveyda and the Riddle of the Iranian Revolution (Mage, 2000); Modernity and Its Foes in Iran (Gardon Press, 1998); Modernity and Its Foes in Iran (Gardon Press, 1998); Tales of Two Cities: A Persian Memoir (Mage 1996); On Democracy and Socialism, a collection of articles coauthored with Faramarz Tabrizi Pars Press, 1987); and Malraux and the Tragic Vision (Agah Press, 1982). Milani has also translated numerous books and articles into Persian and English.

Milani's articles have been published in journals, magazines, and newspapers. He has been interviewed for national and international radio and television programs.

He is a member of the American Association of Political Science, the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and the Association of Iranian Studies.

Milani received his BA in political science and economics from the University of California at Berkeley and his PhD in political science from the University of Hawaii.

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Recent Commentary

In the News

Panel Addresses Demographics, Technology And Challenges In The Middle East

featuring Abbas Milani, George P. Shultz, Arye Carmon, Hoover Institutionvia The Stanford Daily
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz convened the ninth installment of his panel series “Governance in an Emerging World” on Monday by underscoring the importance of the Middle East in what he called “a globe on a hinge of history.” The afternoon’s discussion centered around changing demographics throughout the region, the roles of technology within government and society and challenges for the Middle East to overcome in the future.

Essays

Islamic Republic of Iran in an Age of Global Transitions: Challenges for a Theocratic Iran

by Abbas Milani, Roya Pakzadvia Governance In An Emerging New World
Monday, April 22, 2019

For the last 150 years, Iran, like most countries in the industrializing world, has experienced the tumults of two epochal global revolutions—the industrial revolution that changed the nature of labor and now the advent of the “second Machine Age,”2 which is changing the nature of not just labor, but life and leisure, knowledge and information. In the same period, Iran has gone through the travails of two domestic revolutions—the first in 1905-07 when the country’s elite tried to introduce democracy and modernity  to the country, and the second in 1979 when a democratic mass movement overthrew the monarchy but eventually begot the rise of a theocratic despotism keen on dismantling as much of modernity as possible.

Interviews

Abbas Milani: Why Trump Declared Iran's Revolutionary Guard Terrorists

interview with Abbas Milanivia KCBS Radio
Monday, April 8, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow Abbas Milani explains the implications of the United States declaring Iran's Revolutionary Guard a "foreign terrorist organization." The designation is the first time that America has categorized a part of another country's government as terrorists.

Policy BriefsFeatured

Abbas Milani Explains How Authoritarian Regimes Use Fear To Stay In Power

by Abbas Milanivia PolicyEd
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

In spite of systematic gender discrimination at every level, Iranian women have continued their fight for inclusivity. As a result, Iranian women have become harbingers of a movement of civil disobedience. The women’s movement is not just about the veil – it is about breaking the authority of a repressive regime.

In the News

Khomeini's Return To Iran: Broken Promises And Breaking Alliances

quoting Abbas Milanivia Radio Farda
Friday, February 1, 2019

On February 1, 1979 Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini returned to Iran after 15 years in exile as the leader of a revolution that had sent Iran's last monarch, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to exile.

Featured

Iran Must Free Farhad Meysami, A Nonviolent Fighter For Human Rights

by Abbas Milani, Larry Diamond, Francis Fukuyama, Michael McFaulvia The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 5, 2018

In recent weeks, moral outrage has been stirred by the barbaric war that Saudi Arabia has waged in Yemen, by the Saudi government’s brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and by President Trump’s failure to condemn and sanction these offenses, out of concern for damaging economic interests, real or exaggerated. At the same time, however, another human tragedy has been gathering in Iran, and it is one we might still avert, before it is too late.

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A Deal Worse

by Abbas Milanivia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 29, 2018

President Trump’s scrapping of the joint nuclear deal is a godsend to Iran’s beleaguered leaders. It will also breed more Russian and Chinese interference

Featured

The Iranian Paradox Made More Complex By Erratic US Behavior

by Abbas Milanivia The Hill
Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Iranian regime is in turmoil and its sole salvation might well be a controlled confrontation with the United States. Giddy minds, Shakespeare tells us, are best kept busy with foreign wars.

Featured

Why Trump’s Plans For Regime Change In Iran Will Have The Opposite Effect

by Michael McFaul, Abbas Milanivia The Washington Post
Wednesday, May 30, 2018

After President Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, many analysts wondered whether he was primarily motivated by the desire to undermine yet another of his predecessor’s foreign policy achievements. Among the rationales Trump gave for abandoning the deal were that "it didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will."

Featured

The Imprudence Of Unilateral US Withdrawal From The Iran Nuclear Deal

by Abbas Milanivia The Bulletin
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The much-rumored and long-expected announcement by President Trump that he will order the United States to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal—officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA­—is arguably the worst policy option for addressing problems in what was the least-bad possible deal when it was signed. Contrary to what candidate and then-President Trump often repeated (with his penchant for hyperbole), it was not the worst deal in history.

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