For more than twenty-five years, the United States and Iran have been diplomatically estranged, each characterizing the other t only as a political adversary, but also as devious, threatening, and essentially evil. According to William O. Beeman, such demonization is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as both countries have embraced exactly the policies and rhetoric that would particularly threaten or insult the other. Drawing on his experience as a linguistic anthropologist, Beeman parses how political leaders have used historical references, religious associations, and the mythology of evil to inflame their own citizens against the foreign country and proposes a way out of this dangerous debacle.
William O. Beeman is professor and chair of anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He has also worked as a consultant to the United States Department of State and Department of Defense. He is the author of Iraq: State in Search of a Nation and Language, Status and Power in Iran.