Abbas Milani

Abbas Milani

Research Fellow

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


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."


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.

Analysis and Commentary

How To Support Iran's Protesters

by Abbas Milanivia NY Daily News
Thursday, January 4, 2018

Iran is in the throes of arguably the most serious challenge faced by its clerical regime. What to do about it?


Don't Oversimplify The Protests In Iran

by Abbas Milanivia NPR
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

For years, Washington's thinking on Iran has fallen into two oversimplified opposing camps. Regime apologists insist the Islamic Republic is strategically invulnerable and the United States must not only accept, but appease, the status quo. On the other side are American jingoists who rightly point to the Iranian regime's egregious behavior — human rights abuses at home and proxy bating of the U.S. and its allies regionally — and then wrongly conclude that no negotiation with the regime is warranted and that the only prudent policy is regime change in Iran.

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Ayatollah Online

by Abbas Milanivia Hoover Digest
Monday, October 23, 2017

The mullahs call it sin; activists call it liberation. The battle for Iranians’ hearts and minds rages in social media. 

Analysis and Commentary

Trump Is Strengthening Iran’s Radicals

by Abbas Milanivia Project Syndicate
Friday, October 13, 2017

US President Donald Trump’s decision to pursue a more aggressive Iran policy underscores his administration’s misunderstanding of the Iranian regime. Shelving the 2015 nuclear deal would not only heighten regional tensions; it would also embolden the very hardliners that the US has been seeking to contain.

Analysis and Commentary

Who Rules In The Digital Age?

by Larry Diamond, Abbas Milanivia Stanford Alumni
Friday, September 15, 2017

How do we balance the right to free speech on digital platforms with other important values—security, civility and privacy? How have authoritarian regimes in the Middle East responded to the Arab Spring, and what role is social media currently playing the region? In these two recent Stanford event recordings, faculty and academic experts explore these timely, complex topics.

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A Trench War In The Digital Age: The Case Of Iran

by Abbas Milanivia The Caravan
Monday, June 12, 2017

A trench war, fought in our labyrinthine digital world, has been raging in the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than two decades. On one side is a youthful internet-savvy society—adept at the gender-neutral, hierarchy-averse pluralism of platforms and networks—a society craving to join the 21st century. On the other side is a clerical despotic regime with a claim to divine legitimacy, a parallel male-dominated septuagenarian elite, enamored of gender-apartheid and of ideas more than a millennium old—a power structure that is retrograde, passé and stale, compared to the vibrancy of Iranian society at large.  


The Rouhani Factor

by Abbas Milanivia Project Syndicate
Monday, May 22, 2017

Iran’s presidential election on May 19 was paradoxical and potentially pivotal. It began as a sleepy affair – a likely victory for the incumbent, Hassan Rouhani, running against a motley crew of conservative has-beens or upstarts. Moreover, a two-term presidency has been the default in the Islamic Republic since 1981. Early attacks on Rouhani were thus seen as efforts by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, his conservative clerical allies, and the Revolutionary Guards to weaken and contain the incumbent in his second term.


A 'City On A Hill' As A Fortress In A Moat

by Abbas Milani, Larry Diamond, Michael McFaulvia The Atlantic
Friday, February 3, 2017

The notion that one form of prejudice can defeat another is an illusion.