Scott Powell's Islamist Entanglement lectures (also available as individual lectures) help set the historical context for an understanding of the Middle East and last week's lecture on Iran was no different. Beginning briefly with ancient Persia, Scott traces the development what became Iran as part of the various Islamic empires. Important in this regard is that most of Iran, unlike much of the rest of the Muslim world, is Shia. Its religion has thus always put it somewhat at odds with the rest of the Muslim world. After the usual confrontations with the West, Iran began to modernize a little and by the early 20th century some of its intellectuals were attempting to enact constitutional reforms. Unfortunately those reforms failed. Iran has a long history of having an alliance between a military and the religious leadership. The leader is supposed to follow the sacred path and if he does not he deserves to be overthrown. When the leader starts to endorse Western ideas, that is usually when he is regarded as having betrayed his office. Ultimately this is what happened to the American-supported Shah in 1979. Also of note is that Scott presents a somewhat different perspective on the whole Mossadegh-CIA affair of 1953. All in all, this is a highly recommended lecture.